Fair of Maremma
Now the fair of Marikamba Devi, as scheduled, happens once in every alternate year. But in the past it was not so regularly as of now. It used to take place irregularly, once in many years. But it is not so now. It is held regularly as per schedule without fail. Fair takes place with great pomp at Bidkibail, in the heart of the town, which is reserved for Mari Jatra only. This fair of historic fame goes on for a week. Devotees not only from this village but also from far off villages, tourists in lakshs arrive at the fair. They see devi; offer the vows and gifts ; pray for the grant of time of plenty (Subhiksha) , peace, prosperity and happiness. This is an indescribable scene. The fair is held peacefully with full co-operation of Town Muncipalitry, Revenue Dept.., Police Dept.., Health Dept.., and other governments. The devotees and tourists do not face any kind of problems. The fair takes place with the co-operation of babadars of the temple and their assistants, natie citizens, voluntary institutions and volunteers. Varieties of shops , enetertainment, drama yakshagana, etc. put together double the attraction of the fair .
Two months prior to the fair , in which year the fair takes place , the religious rituals would start as per rules regulations. A meeting of babadars , respected persons of the town and public would be called for and the dates of the commencemnt and conclusion of the fair would be decided. Generally the fair commence on a certain Tuesday in shukla paksha in the month of phalguna. During these two months all the preparation of the fair are made . Invitations would be sent to the temple babadars and asadi – metri families by the temple. Babadars have their own stipulated duties in carrying out the programmes of the fair. The role babadars and farmers is very important in the fair . Some clelebrations of the fair must be performed by the special families only. Such families are called as babadars family of the temple . In accordance with the regulations of the fair such families are duly honoured and respected by the temple. The ceremonies are strictly observed in the fair. Any ceremony other than the traditional one is not observed. Each ceremony has legendary meaning and cultural backup. The story of Devi’s history is reflected in the manner and methods of the fair. It is noteworthy that peoples religious faiths, manners and methods custums and thought all these blend together in the kingdom of goddess Marikamba. It is not an exaggeration that the fair of Marikamba is an interesting , meaningful and a unique model of rural life style.
The important ceremonies of the fair are outings (horabeedu), sacrifice(bali), sacrifice on boundaries(gadi bali), service to matangi(manlangi seve), gava, festival of charit, marriage, bhoomige heppu, wearing the dress of a widow etc. During the fair various types of services are being offered by the devotees. The people offer their vows (harake) taken in the past during their great afflictions. They get condescension of the Mother. These ceremonies of the fair are the combination of both traditional method and all types of modern specialities. Tuesday prior to that, and on two Fridays in between, totally five horabeedus take place. Horabeedus mean going out at night to the five pedastrals in the outskirts of the town for worshipping Devi and then returning to the temple. According to the rule of the fair horbeedus are observed with great splendor on all the three Tuesday of horabeedu, the palanquin with the festival idol is taken in procession to the pedestal on the Eastern outskirt of the town. On Fridays the bowl (padalige) is taken to the defined pedestal in the Northern direction and there adoration takes place . During all the horabeedus, after offering Mudi(offering coconut, rice, bangles and cloth together), to Shri Devi, the night procession would start from Marikamba Temple and goes over to Marki-Durgi Temple. There ‘Udi’ would be offered. Then it would go to the pedestal of the fair. As per the tradition of horabeedu the festival idol or padalige would be placed and worshipped. On Tuesday’s horabeedu the palanquin procession comes to the last pedestal in the Eastern direction. It is the custom that Gali-Mari Jogati(female ascetic) would perform the worship of the pedestal in Northern direction. The procession would return to Marki –Durgi Temple. After worship would come back to Marikamba Temple and dissolved after the worship. Dinner would be served to the farmers and babadaras on fourth and fifth horabeedus respectively. Friday morning, the devotedes would go to the forest with musicl instruments used on auspicious occasions, to bring timber for the chariot. After the worship to the tree by the priest babadar ryots would felldown that tree. There is a rule that new chariot should be prepared for every fair. But in modern times now, that traditions is performed symbolically. On early morning of fifth horabeedu the timber for the chariot would be brought in cart along with procession. In front of the temple the cart loaded with the timber would be worshipped first. During seven days prior to the commencement of the fair the babadar carpenters, carpenters and masons(uppar) would prepare and decorate the chariot.
The fifth horebeedu is called horabeedu of ‘anke’ The next day, on Wednesday, the procession of the buffalo would go to Marki-Durgi temple first, after the worship there it would go to Marki-Durgi temple first, after the worship there it would go to the Jatra –pedestal. Asadis and metris would perform the stage (ranga) and other connected ceremonies. Anke Programme means tying the sacred thread (kankana) to the buffelo of the throne. Asadi’s role is main in the programme. On this occasion tyhey also get a konkana tied. That day the festival idol of Devi in palanquin would be brought and seated on the Jatra pedestal. Than Meti- babadars would be invited to going in precession. He comes with a pot and oil – lamp (hanate) in procession. Then Nadiga – Babadars worship Devi by lighting the lamp of prosperity. It is believed that Nadig family belongs to the dynasty of the father of Devi. We do not find any thing support of this. From the lamp of prosperity offered by Nadigs a lamp would be lit by metis. It is the dutyt of metis to see that the lamp wouldnot put of till the end of the fair. Then metis take that burning lamp to their house in procession. Coming back from the house they go to Marki- Durgi temple. Carring the palanquin. They take the idol of Marki – Durgi and arrive at Marikamba temple. Then the doors of Marikamba temple would be closed till Ugadi. On that day goddess would be re-installed. During those days the worship would be offered infront of Bhootaraja residing in the main entrance of the temple.
Country wide famous fair of Marikamba starts from Tuesday. That day early in the morning the sacred vessel (kalasha) would be adorned and installed in the cell of the Chariot. Bedar-Jogati present on that occasion would fan the chavari. The chariot would be decorated with sprout-festoons (Taliru-Torana). In the evening the idol of Devi and marki-Durgi would be seated on the pedestal in the auditorium of the temple. Marikamba Devi and Marki –Durgi are decorated with new sarees and gold ornaments. They would be given the vision (drusti). At that times a sacrifice is offered. Sacrifice now means virtuous sacrifice (Satvika bali). Numbers of such balis are offered till the end of the fair. Symbolically black pumpkins are cut as sacrifice. Animal sacrifice is totally banned.
An auspicious necklace(mangala-sootra) made for Devi would be brought that night from babadar’s house in procession. The Nadig family is invited to perform the first installation pooja. That day is wedding day. It is customary to have marriage dinner in Nadig’s house. After the first adoration by Nadigs, the second and third poojas are offered by the priests belonging to Kumbar and kedagi families respectively. The fourth pooja is offered by the priests of both these families jointly. There is a rule that these priests are summoned and sent back after the pooja in procession.
Then Marki-Durgi idols would be taken in procession to their temples and installed in their respective seats.
Sacrifice is offered at the main gate infront of Bhootaraja, at the time of lifting the magnificent idol of Marikamba Devi for ascending the chariot. Again sacrifice is offered after Devi seated on the chariot. Prominent persons and babadars break the coconuts on the wheel of the chariot. Then the priests would give the leaf of Devi’s offering (naivedya and otherthings) to Asadis. Thereafter drawing the chariot begins. That is an auspeciuos moment. On Wednesday in an auspicious moment and climate Ambe- Marikambe seated on the chariot is beautyfull to look at. The grandeur of that scene is indescribable. Two eyes are not enough to see the chariot of Devi moving majestically in the path amidst lakhs of people with this is a great fortune. While the chariot is proceeding towards the Jatra pedestal(Bidkibail)The grandeur of that scene is indescribable. Two eyes are not enough to see the chariot of Devi moving majestically in the path amidst lakhs of people with this is a great fortune. While the chariot is proceeding towards the Jatra pedestal(Bidkibail) asadis all along the way in front of the chariot go singing and dancing. The roar of drums, trumpets and musical instruments , dance with sticks etc. are unforgettable. Bedar Jogatis being on the chariot fan of chavari. When the chariot comes near the Jatra place, the procession would go to the houses of metis Galimari Jogatis , and invite them to join in. Gali-mari Jogati dressing herself with new saree presented to her and keeping the pot on head will join the procession . Descending the idol of Shri Marikamba Devi from the Chariot, and would be installed in the Jatra pedestal. The meti oil-lamp will be kept in middle of the pendal infront of Devi. Asadis perform ranga activities. Then at night arrangement will be made to offer sacrifice in 32 borders of the town. From next day, i.e. from Thursday the services, offering of fruits – coconuts, vows and such others will be started.
End of the fair
Great Mother Maremma installed for eight days in the Jtra pedestal would give vision(darshana) to the devotees. The fair would come to an end on next Wednesday. On that day devotees would go to the house of Gali-Mari – Jogati in procession and present saree-blouse piece to her. They would invite her to come to the Jatra pedestal to complete the rights of conclusion of the fair. She comes wearing the saree presented to her. The temple would provide her the articles for worship.
Nadig babadars would offer the final lamp of prosperity. Then Devi’s idolwould be lifted from the pedestal and seated down in the middle of Jatra pendal.Asadis perform ‘hulusu’ activities there. Hulusu means distribution of remaining portion of sacrifice for prosperity among hen it would be distributed to the farmers. They would go to the field and sow ‘hulusu’ in their field and cameback to the Jatra pedestal. Asadis and metrisa complete the activities of ‘gava’.
Before Devi is lifted from the middle of the pendal the priest offer oil-lamp(arati). Then Devi would be taken in procession to the pedestal near the Eastern side of the temple. Devi while returning from Jatra pendal does not go in the chariot. She will be carried seated on a special plank. Meti oil-lampers should join the procession with lamps. While the procession is leaving Jatra pendal Matangi pendal is burnt by the flame of the lamp. This is a traditional custom. While going to the pedestal of ‘heppu’ two sacrifice are offered. Asadis and Metis perform ‘heppu’ two sacrifice are offered. Asadis and Metis perform ‘heppu’ procedure there. Devi is next taken to the last pedestal in the Eastern direction. Here meti comes back to the temple with burning lamp and keeps it in sanctum sanctorum of the temple. Then near the Eastern sid pedestal asadis perform concluding procedure. At that time coconuts are broken. To the people gathered there water and jiggery will be supplied. That is the end of Jatra programme.
On Ugadi day Shri Devi will be reinstalled in the sanctum- sanctorum. The first adoration will be by Nadig. Asadi has to perform ‘ranga’ procedures on that day. Saree is given as present to asadi.
There are definite rules and regulations for observance of every procedure of Jatra. They have been followed strictly without any violation.
Shri Marikamba fair is one of the famous fairs in Karnataka. People begin to gather at Sirsi even before eight days to the fair. The devotees of Devi rush in toSirsi are especially from neighbourings states like Goa, Maharashtra, Kerala, Andra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. During eight days when Devi sitting majestically the devotees arrive at Sirsi from districts like Uttar Kannada , Dakshina Kannada, Haveri,Gadag, Dharwad, Bellary, Belgaum, Shimoga, Udupi etc. During Jatra festival lakhs and lakhs of people come to Sirsi and offer their religious service to Devi. The devotees feel gratified after offering before Devi the gifts, Udi, fulfilling the religious vows, wearing the branches of neem tree(bevin Udi) etc. taken in times of their hardships. This is a heart fillimg, sentimental and devotional atmosphere. Literally they talk with mother . They get the boon of fearlessness from Devi and feel sacred. That time of having accomplished the objects is fruitful. That time of spraying theism on hard core atheists is indescribable. All are children of Jagajjanani (mother of universe). She is Mother Tribhuvaneshwari protecting the children. The grandeur of the fair of Sirsi Maremma is nowhere else top be seen.