The nine-day Karaga festival, beginning on March 31, attracts lakhs of devotees every year
Bengaluru: The Karaga festival is important to Bengaluru. It is celebrated over nine days with pomp and colour and distribution of ‘panaka’ a concoction of lime juice and jiggery. This year, it falls on March 31.
There has not been a year when the Karaga festival was not held. It did not stop when the plague outbreak rattled the country. It did not stop when the British imposed curfew in 1940.
So will the coronavirus stop the Karaga festival in Bengaluru this year?
Then, on April 2 and 3, Karnataka will celebrate Sriramanavami. It has statewide importance.
Will that celebration be limited to the home too?
The coronavirus scare hangs as dark cloud over both celebrations.
The organizers of the Karaga festival, the Dharmaraya Swamy Temple Management Committee, the Muzrai department and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) are worried sick, in a manner of speaking.
Several coronavirus positive cases are being quarantined in hospitals and then the death of a patient in Kalaburagi yesterday has triggered speculation that it was due to the coronavirus.
Given such a leadup, no one knows what decision will be taken by the civic authorities should the corona scare intensify in the coming days.
Rajagopal, president of the Dharmaraya Swamy Temple Committee which organizes the event in coordination with the city administration said, “I am 76 years old. I have never seen the Karaga festival stopped for any reason. We are confident it will be celebrated this year, come what may.”
He said some practices may have to be modified as a coronavirus precaution: such as stopping distribution of ‘panaka’ (sacred juice) and buttermilk to devotees. Insteam, they could be given certain fruits as prasadam.
An assistant priest at the Gaali Anjaneyaswamy temple, manoj Bhattacharya said, “The celebrations have been happening uninterrupted for 135 years.They will go ahead this year too.”