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Tuesday 27 June 2023

The Narasimha Cult: Oakali Festival

View of temple

In a unique cult-festival celebrated across India, Lord Narasimha, the fourth avatar of Vishnu, is worshipped in quaint forms and ways. The Oakali tradition (sprinkling of holy waters on devotees) is a part of Narasimha Jayanti. It falls in the month of May and is celebrated in many places of the south.

The Oakali tradition of Narasimha Jayanthi

Lord Narasimha, decorated and decked up

I made my way to Lakshmi Narasimha temple in Bhadravati, Shivamogga district of Karnataka where the festival is celebrated with all fervor and gaiety involving a few families.
Lord Narasimha journeys from the temple

The victory of knowledge over ignorance marks the festivities, and as part of the Oakali tradition, community feasts are organized by family members in certain temples of the state.

A view of procession

As I made my way to the 800-year-old Hoysala style temple of Vesara architecture (which is one of the oldest Narasimha temples of India), it reverberated with the sounds of musical notes and rituals.
Procession in the city

The festival attracts devotees from all parts of the state, Tamilnadu and other areas. Situated on the banks of Bhadra River, this ancient temple is a repository of its varied culture, and continues to protect traditions.
Lord Narasimha denied entry to the temple

The tradition of holding this festival is a century old. Further, locals relate a lot of stories about this city of Vankipura where Sage Vanki Maharishi once resided. However, let us not talk about the history now but concentrate on the Oakali ritual and tradition where 6-7 families of Bhadravati take part.
Questioning the entry of Narasimha, Goddess Lakshmi

Ranganath Sharma, the chief priest and Srinivas Sharma, assistant priest of the temple narrate how the decorated deity of Lord Narasimha is serenaded with all pomp, grandeur following family traditions.

The dialogue between Lakshmi and Narasimha at the temple doorsteps

The festivities involves the participation of people from all walks of life. In fact, a mind boggling number of people are involved in making the festival a success. Many designated teams are there to manage the festival. It includes eight priests who perform the rituals while the Veda team chant the mantras.

The team of priests

The Utsav Bhovi team

The Seva Team of eleven members led by R Krishna Murthy makes the festivities happen and a Utsava Bhovi team of twenty members are responsible for lighting of the lamps and carrying the Lord in a procession as people worship and perform dana.
More in Part-2

Location map:


shiva kumar said...

very nice information and perfect pictorial representation ..thanks

Anonymous said...

V nice beautiful decoration 👌👌✋✋🙏🙏