Bandi Festival: An amazing ritual

Vasantha Maasa ( falls in March-April) , the first month of Hindu year  brings  thousands of annual rural festivals . An ancient style rituals of worshipping earth, sun, nature , water can be seen  even today in the villages of India.  Every festival , ritual or observance changes its dimensions with place. Peoples, fairs, market ,shops, street shows  and some unique rituals are the features of these festival. Couple of visit and a little observation would reveal that every festival is deeply associated with elements of nature  which  imitate human practices of  stone age era. These practices range from being  fun, soft to brutal, inhuman to an extent normal people would  fear to imagine. Bandi festivals are one of such thousands of observances found in Karnataka .

The fire walk at Bandi festival in Talageri, Kumta, KA

Bandi festivals are  only seen in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka  state and even today they are one of the biggest events in the district. The whole festival  is about worshipping  Earth as god ( Bhumi Taayi)  and the whole festival is headed by Gunuga community of Uttara Kannada  but well assisted by all other communities such as Gowda, Brahmana  highlighting the communal balance in the early societies.

A devotee in trance

Mr. D . V  . Gunuga of Kumta who is a retired now as bank manager  says ” you have to come and see these events.  Though all Bandi festivals are similar , some rituals differ with places.  And some rituals are performed only in unique places ”   he has a great collection of published articles from local newspapers and magazines and even today he continues to do that.

They are called as flower child

The main god carried on head by the priest

” this festival is important for every one .  Every caste in the village have their role cut out and they do their part every year. Some families in the village performed some rituals from generations.  Everyone is important here . This shows the strong bond that used be in the society and its caste systems once contrary to current situation of castism in India. ” says Mr Gunuga.

The rolling ritual is performed by kids

cattle are brought and circled around the temple

Fire walking, farmers circling the temple with their cattle,rolling ritual , ladies circling the temple with Oil lamps , Tiger dance   are the main highlights of the festival.  Main priest here are Gunugas who carry gods decorated on their head  and they get in to a trance where one can witness a great power inside them. Many say  the people who carry decorated God’s idols weight multiplies and they can do anything as God directs them. Thousand watch with full of fear and devotion.

The shops also continue to attract people

Mr. N S Bhat of Kumta who is a retired Kannada  professor  remembers his childhood days  of Bandi festivals . He says 15-20 carts of woods are used to make fire for the firewalking events.   People used to firewalk for more than 100 meters  of burning fire without their feet get burnt such is the devotion of the people once.  I shot these photos in Talageri ( Kumta)  Bandi festival so thankful those who supported me there .

Coming Bandi Fetivals : May 3rd 2012- Kumta Bandi habba

          May  5th , 6th and 7 th Baggon , Kumta

          May  7th , 8th and 9th Ankola , Kumta

Please confirm the dates first if you want to visit these .

kids excited as the stage for fire walking getting ready

as it darkens the fire intensifies !

Devotees walk and run in the fire

Sometimes the devotees who are in trance start dancing in the fire. So the assisting people pull them off to save their feet!

 In the coming years I want to visit more and more of these festivals and document it visually  with supporting information on the rituals and practices that are performed. Thanks to those who gave me valuable information. If anyone has a good information please do reply under comments section and I would love to add to the information.

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