Caution: This is a fictional story. Any instances related to any person living or dead is unintentional. However if many are able to relate to this story I would be very happy.
Mumbai, Friday 10 AM : Thank God It’s Friday! This is what software professionals think when they go out to work on a Friday as they can chill and relax for the weekend after all the hard work(or lack of) done for the week. They somehow want to finish their pending tasks so that they can sneak out as early as possible and look forward to another eventful weekend. It was one such Friday unlike many other, wherein Dev had planned hiking at Lohagad Fort with his school buddies. A riot was about to happen as all the friends were meeting after a long time after planning it for longest time. Just when Dev was busy giving finishing touches to the design document which he had to deliver by end of day, he got a call from his dad. This was unusual as he wouldn’t call this time of the day. Dev was told to leave to Chennai by the same evening without being given proper reason. Dev got worried, was it because of his ailing mother who was not doing great these days, or was it something else? What is dad hiding with him? Why is he not divulging the details? He tried calling his mother multiple times but to no avail. Dev was getting very furious, anxious and scared all at the same time. Now that his dad had ordered him to travel & he didn’t had the guts to cross question him, he had very few options and had to move out by hook or crook. So Dev boarded Chennai bound flight dropping his weekend plans only to receive flak from his friends.
Chennai, Friday 8 PM: Dev reached his uncle’s place and was stunned to see all his immediate relatives along with his parents. All looked cheerful and dressed up for an event, so that was a great respite. He was just told to freshen up and get ready quickly as the prospective bride along with her family was visiting them. Dev had sensed it and had a feeling that something was brewing behind his back. Last thing he expected was to see a girl. To be frank, he was not ready. He had planned for a career switch as he hated his IT job as many other blokes. He had also planned to buy a house and had to make some important financial decisions. He had planned for his marriage some 2-3 years down the line when he got settled with career and house of his choice. But now everything was pre-planned by the high command(read parents).90% of all the arrangements were already done. They were only waiting for Kabool Hai from their son which they were anyway expecting given the great credentials of the visiting family.
Dev had made up his mind. He will see the girl according to his parents wish, but reject her or get rejected and close the chapter. The girl’s arrival was expected anytime soon and this plan looked sensible and doable. As the clock struck 8.40,the girl arrived with her parents. They were greeted and pampered as though they were celebrities. It seemed his parents had a great camaraderie and healthy bonding with the girl’s parents. Finally, it was time for some food. Homemade sweets & delicacies were specially made for the guests. Now that food had been consumed, it was time for some serious talk. But everything was set and talked upon earlier among the parents. Only some discussion about the marriage arrangements were pending. And they expected their children to like each other and agree for marriage and do some personal talk among themselves. Dev sensed an opportunity here and lead the girl to his room upstairs. He was bit nervous too as he didn’t knew the thought process of the girl about all the recent developments. Being a guy he took the lead and initiated the talk. He started saying that this was all of a surprise for him and he had no clue what his parents were planning for him. He had to come here in Chennai on a very short notice. He didn’t even see her photo and was told about this development when he reached here. No comments from girl yet and she was in listening mode. Now that girl was not responding, Dev switched to Plan B. He said-I am not ready for marriage. No reactions yet from the girl. It seemed girl was unfazed by his explanation and was acting as per her parents’ wishes. Now, Dev decided to give her some gyaan. He told her that she is beautiful, young(barely 22) and working with a reputed company, Tujhe toh koi bhi mil jayega. Now girl reciprocated and blinked. She was not in speaking mode yet, but Dev felt encouraged by her acknowledgement. Further to help his cause, Dev put forward his Brahma Astra and said he was addicted to bad habits. He said, he smoked daily and consumed alcohol often. Even his parents were unaware of this and he was revealing it for the first time to her, apart from few of his close friends. He being good at heart said that it will not be good if he rejected such a sushil girl. Instead if girl revealed to her parents that she didn’t like the guy, then it would end smoothly. Hearing this girl spoke for the first time. She said that she seem to understand him quite a bit and told him that she would handle this situation in her own way by rejecting his proposal without revealing his secret. Dev thought he nailed it, felt assured and thanked the girl profusely. Meanwhile, when they were away, parents had already fixed the engagement date and were finalizing some special arrangements to be made.
To be continued…..
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Where were we? Oh yeah, we had seen all traditions/customs performed on first day of jatra in the Marikamba temple. Now it’s time for Rathotstav where Marikamba Devi is taken into a chariot and rowed from temple premises to Bidki Bail(town centre). So let’s start our journey from the temple.
As we traverse, there are lot of dol thashas/drum rolls from different parts performing their act.
Scorching heat but no dip in enthusiasm.
Swarm of people to witness Goddess and get blessed.
Multitude of Devotees.. “Vajra”- Police wing to the rescue of people if any eventualities.
After Goddess is placed in Bidki Bail where people are allowed to take darshan from very close quarters only during these 8 days.
Rathotsav(Chariot procession) and our journey from the temple culminates in Bidki Bail near Shivaji Chowk.
Good bye until next time we meet for yet another journey..
Marikamba Fair is one of the biggest jatra of Karnataka held in temple town of Sirsi. Over a lakh devotees,tourists and pilgrims gather from Maharashtra,Goa,Tamil Nadu,Andhra,Kerala and all parts of Karnataka making it one of the biggest festivals in the region. This fair is held every alternate year. This year it is celebrated from March 11th to 19th.
As the legend says, the Goddess(form of Durga) is said to have told a devotee in dream that her insignia was to be found in a tank on the outskirts of the town and to derive benefit to the region by its installation and worship. Accordingly the original idol is being worshipped since 1688.Unfathomable are the ways of Gods, whose mere wishes can transform a wilderness into a town in no time. The then little known village of Sirsi of about 200 inhabitants is today brimming with a population exceeding 100,000 and is flourishing as the richest region of the district, only because of the kind grace of the auspicious Goddess Shri Marikamba(It is also known as Doddamma Temple, with “Doddamma” denoting the “elder sister” of all Maraiammas in Karnataka).
Marikamba Temple In Sirsi
Various rituals performed on first day of Jatra mahotsav.
Chariot getting ready for the D-day.
When Mahatma Gandhi visited Sirsi in 1933, during his campaign to abolish untouchability of Dalits, he refused to visit the temple, as animal sacrifice was a prevalent ancient practice at the temple; the sacrifice was in the form of offering of he-buffalo as a sacrifice to appease the goddess. A he-buffalo was specially bred for offering as a sacrifice to the deity during the annual Rathayatra. Following the protest by Gandhi, there was a social movement in the town not only to abolish animal sacrifice but also to allow Dalits entry into the temple.
Some historical facts about the temple
- This is the first temple to stop animal slaughter-the age old custom in India
- This is the first temple in India to declare open its doors, some fifty years back, for Harijan entry into the temple. This is also the first temple where non-Brahmins are the priests for over two hundred fifty years.
- This temple is the first of its kind in India when one of the trustees is a Harijan and this system was later on adopted by the famous Tirupati Tirumala temple.
- This institution was a source of encouragement for the participants in the struggle for national independence.
To be Continued…………
References: Wikipedia, Sirsi.in