29 February, 2012

Revival of the lost heritage

Frank Lloyd Wright has rightly said "I believe in God, only I spell it nature". Imagine sleeping on the banks of Kapila river watching the sun change into its divine dawn color and the birds drifting right in front of the sun bidding it goodbye.Just the thought brings so much peace within us.I recently happened to enjoy this peace in Kittur.No, I am not talking about the one in North Karnataka. This is a remote village in the Mysore district,Karnataka near Kabini dam  http://g.co/maps/z99xx.
 I am married into the Kittur family. We are basically Vadama Iyers having migrated there.We have a Ravi Rameshwara temple there where every year people in large numbers gather to celebrate Shivratri festival with immense faith.This year we were lucky to be there to seek his blessings and thought the experience is worth a share. Lets slightly dwell into its history.

 Sri Ravi Rameshwara temple, part of the Taranimunti (Kittur) village, has a history of around 1500 years. Kittur village was the capital of the Punnata kingdom, the first kannada kingdom. Punnata kingdom is believed to have been established prior to 345 A.D and they were the first to use our Kannada script. The temple was built between 430 A.D. and 450 A.D during the reign of Ramaverma. Around the year 1960 the Kabini dam project was taken up and this made it inevitable to shift some villages adjacent to the dam as these would be submerged.Kittur and our temple were one of those affected. The caretakers of the temple were the Arasu families of Mysore samsthana. They decided to shift all the Devi-Devathas to another temple.But this did not go as planned.Instead,these vigrahas were sold for a price. However, the main Sri Ravi Rameshwara idol could not be touched as the Nagaraja (king of snakes) was guarding it. Hence for about 40 years, Sri Ravi Rameshwara remained in seclusion and provided shelter for wild animals In the year 2000,group of our people made a suggestion to assemble all the migrated Kittur families and form an association. A few members from the Kittur family visited Taranimunti and the old Kittur village. The Sri Ravi Rameshwara temple was in a dilapidated condition. It was difficult to even enter the temple premises.This was the starting point of Kittur Balaga. With the efforts from Kittur Balaga, its family members and others, the Sri Ravi Rameshwara temple has been cleaned and restored to the current state. Work on improving the temple is still in progress. From 2010 onwards, the Mahashivarathri pooja is celebrated in a grand manner. The Kittur Balaga family and the villagers of Taranimunti come together to celebrate the Mahashivarathri pooja.

The Balaga has also built a guest house in Kittur, according to the village standards.It has a large dining hall with 2 rooms and a bathroom. The reason why I specified the 'village standard' is, people well accustomed to city luxuries should not expect the same here. After all we are seeking peace in a village. Balaga families and their acquaintances can stay here with a minimal price though. Food arrangement needs to be taken care of by the families.
Now getting back onto the track, let me shed some more light on this year's Shivratri celebration. On the morning of  20-02-2012, Rudrabhisheka was performed. Few days before the festival, villagers of Kittur had requested the balaga to marry off a couple who were economically unstable. So, in the evening necessary arrangements were made for the marriage to take place. This is just one of the examples which makes clear that the balaga also intends to uplift the village families socially and economically along with the welfare of their own. Following the wedding was the teppotsava, where the lord's utsavamurthy is relaxed on the coracle and taken on a blissful ride on the waters of Kapila river. This sight is beyond words.

On the Shivratri night, arrangements had been made to entertain folks intending to do jaagarane(staying up whole night). Harikatha and bhajans were performed by Sri. S. R. Narasimhan and we also engaged the saxophone specialist Sri. S. V. Narayan. Next day we had early morning poojas which extended till 11AM. On both the days(20 Feb 2012 and 21 Feb 2012) there is annasantharpane(serving food to all the devotees) in the temple. This was just a gist that I have provided here. One should experience and enjoy the above in person.
Any further details about our village/temple/balaga, please feel free to mail me. Suggestions and comments are open.


Sandeep K S said...

Really nice article... very well written..

Girish Iyer said...

Very nice article, great to know the history indeed and efforts to keep that intact, could you please tell how to join the kittur balaga?? i am a vadama iyer, having roots of kittur, never actually visited though. kindly send me email giri1119@gmail.com

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