India is a place where one can find all varieties of cultures amalgamating in one point. Different places have different ways of worshiping the gods. A very common practice of taking the village goddesses to nearby gods once in a year or sometimes more than once, can be seen in almost every part of Karnataka.The names of these goddesses involved in such practices are Maramma, Annamma, Bisilu Maramma, Kabalamma, Belladamma, Doddamma, Kuntu Maramma, Huchchamma, Lakkamma, Pttadamm, Chowdamma, Gangamma, Plegamma, Hattilakkamma, Kambadamma, Kalamma, Gowramma and many more. Every goddess in every village has a background story and most of the goddesses are either the protectors of the village or related to prosperity or health or nature or curing of disease.
In the past villagers traveled by foot carrying the idol of the goddesses to a nearby god’s temple (Shiva temple in general). They traveled for a few days and camped a night or two in the village. They stayed there and finished up all the rituals, cooked, ate and then returned back to their own village. This kind of spiritual travel helped in improving the relationships between the villages and mutual respect was given to each other. This also helped in improving cross cultural relationships and in the betterment of the economics between the villages. But today, in the modern age the ritual is more symbolic or just a practice often hit by dispute, community clashes and caste based clashes.
The occurrence of these small ritual is fixed based on Hindu calendar, but sometimes based on the decisions of the community involved with the authority of the temple. Sometimes these rituals are cancelled based on sudden deaths in the villages or some unforeseen bad events. Recently, caste based clashes and family disputes are frequently seen as the reasons to postpone/cancel these rituals.
The appearance, form and character of gods/goddesses are defined from the events happened in those places. Sometimes even the physical appearance of the gods or goddesses defined from the people of that location
Dabbaguleshwara is a Shiva temple situated on the right bank of the river Kaveri. Legend says that people came to know about this temple when a bullock went and stood in front of the temple. Many Goddesses of Kanakapura and the nearby places visit this temple to perform the regular rituals once in a year. On the river bank the pooja is performed to the Maramma idols before they are carried on the head by the men of the selected families towards the Shiva temple.
Accompanied by heavy trumpet and percussion, folk music with strong rhythmic beats these men get into a ritual possession before reaching the fire walk area. They reach the peak of their trance just before the fire walk. They sometimes behave in a weird way and the elders interpret them as messengers of god and wait to receive messages from them. The fire walk is watched by thousands of people gathered there who came all the way from their villages. After the fire walk, the idols are taken to a Shiva’s temple and seated for some time, so that everyone can behold the goddess and receive the blessing of the goddesses.
These practices differ from place to place and goddess to goddess which makes one believe that these are just ancient practices which evolved over a period of time depending on the whims and fancies of the people. Renowned Kannada scholar Dr. Siddalingiah says in his book Gramadevathegalu (Village Gods), ” The appearance, form and character of gods/goddesses are defined from the events happened in those places. Sometimes even the physical appearance of the gods or goddesses defined from the people of that location“.