Karaga, Indian Theatrical Festival
Karaga literally means `earthen pot`, is a popular theatrical ritual of south-eastern Karnataka.
(Last Updated on : 06/05/2014)
Karaga is a popular theatrical ritual of south-eastern Karnataka, named after the pot carried on the head by the worshipper-performer. Legends trace Karaga to several episodes in the Ramayana and Mahabharata, but currently the form is prevalent as a mode of worship to the mother goddess Adishakti. This god is also known as Karagadamma i.e. 'Karaga's mother'. Variations of it are found in parts of Tamil Nadu. But as a matter of fact this is present popularity in Kolar and Bangalore districts of Karnataka suggests that it may have traveled from Tamil Nadu to these areas, possibly during the fourteenth century.
The Karaga festival runs over nine days in the first month of the lunar calendar. It begins with the sanctification of the pot and the ritualistic preparation of the Karagagudda or carrier. The climax occurs on the fourth day, when the carrier takes the pot on his head and the devotees move around the village in a ceremonial procession. The rites are interspersed with semi-theatrical events comprising recitals and presentations of situations from the Mahabharata. Meanwhile, the carrier gets possessed and performs vigorous dances as well as acrobatic acts. These features indicate that Karaga stands somewhere between religious worship and theatrical performance like other Indian Para theatrical rituals. Indeed, it belongs to a community that does not distinguish between them. Karaga remains alive as a vibrant form, with local variations.
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