Karnataka, a state located in South India, is known for its rich cultural heritage and vibrant festivals. The people of Karnataka celebrate numerous festivals throughout the year, which reflect the diverse traditions and religious practices followed in the region. Here are some of the prominent festivals celebrated in Karnataka:
- Mysuru Dasara: Mysuru Dasara, also known as Navaratri, is one of the most significant festivals in Karnataka. It is a ten-day festival celebrated with great pomp and show in the city of Mysuru. The festival marks the victory of good over evil and commemorates the goddess Chamundeshwari’s triumph over the demon Mahishasura. The highlight of the festival is the grand procession known as “Jumbo Savari,” where beautifully decorated elephants march through the streets of Mysuru.
- Ugadi: Ugadi is the traditional New Year festival celebrated by the people of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It usually falls in March or April and marks the beginning of a new lunar year. The festival is observed with religious rituals, cultural performances, and special dishes like Obbattu (a sweet flatbread) and Holige (a stuffed sweet dish).
- Makara Sankranti: Makara Sankranti, also known as Pongal or Uttarayana, is a harvest festival celebrated in Karnataka and various other states of India. It typically falls on January 14th or 15th. The festival is dedicated to the Sun God and marks the transition of the Sun into the zodiac sign of Capricorn. People celebrate by flying kites, preparing special dishes like sugarcane juice and tilgul (sesame and jaggery sweets), and participating in cultural events.
- Hampi Utsav: Hampi Utsav is a three-day cultural extravaganza held in the historic city of Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Karnataka. The festival showcases the rich heritage, art, music, and dance forms of Karnataka. Visitors can enjoy traditional performances, puppet shows, fireworks, and a grand procession during this festival.
- Karaga Festival: The Karaga Festival is an ancient and unique festival celebrated in Bangalore (Bengaluru). It is dedicated to the goddess Draupadi, a prominent character from the epic Mahabharata. The festival features a grand procession where a priest carries a sacred pot (Karaga) on his head, symbolizing the goddess. It is accompanied by music, dance, and various religious rituals.
- Ganesh Chaturthi: Ganesh Chaturthi is a popular festival celebrated across Karnataka, dedicated to Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity. It usually falls between August and September. During this festival, people bring clay idols of Lord Ganesha into their homes, offer prayers, and participate in processions. The festival concludes with the immersion of the idols in water bodies.
- Kambala: Kambala is a traditional buffalo race held in the coastal districts of Karnataka, primarily in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada. It is a unique rural sport where buffaloes are paired and made to run in paddy fields. Kambala is not only a thrilling sport but also a celebration of Karnataka’s agricultural traditions.
These are just a few examples of the festivals celebrated in Karnataka. The state has a rich tapestry of cultural celebrations, and various other festivals like Diwali, Eid, Christmas, and others are also celebrated with enthusiasm by different communities residing in Karnataka.
The festivals of Karnataka beautifully unfold the rich cultural attributes of the state. The multi-religious population of the state celebrates its many festivals harmoniously. People of different faiths seem to immerse themselves completely in following the religious traditions with utmost veneration. One of the main Hindu festivals of Karnataka is Mysore Dasara. The colourful Mysore Dasara procession is held on the streets of Mysore with dance groups, music bands, decorated elephants, camels and horses participating in the festivities. Makar Sankranti is a day of goodwill and friendship and on this day sesame ladoos and sugar drops are distributed among the masses as a symbol of the need to be generous and kind. Ganesh Chaturthi is another important annual 10-day festival.
Ugadi is the Karnataka New Year celebrated boisterously in the month of April. The festival of Karaga is celebrated with much fun and frolic in the Darmaraya temple in Bangalore. It is observed on the full moon day of the month of Chaitra, which is the first month according to the Hindu calendar. This popular festival is observed in honour of Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, the famous characters of the great epic Mahabharata.
And then there is the larger-than-life religious Jain festival of the Maha Mastakabhisheka, which happens once in every 12 years in Shravanbelagola. During this long-awaited festival that marks the end of the ceremonies, the 18-metre statue of Bahubali is bathed in curd, vermillion, sandalwood and milk and extravagant offerings are made to the deity by the worshippers.
Besides the religious festivals, there are some festivals, which showcase the cultural wealth of the state. This is demonstrated in vibrant colours and forms. Also, there are festivals that are linked to the lifestyle of the people and are celebrated with equal pomp and fervour. The magnificent city of Hampi comes alive with a symphony of colours during the festival of Hampi. The people of Hampi, once the capital of Vijayanagara, indulge themselves in the festive spirit with an assortment of cultural performances.
Other major festivals celebrated in Karnataka include Tula Sankramana in Coorg, Vairamudi Festival in Melkote, Banashankari Fair and Bengaluru Habba, among others.