The Belagavi Dasara holds a fascinating historical significance. While it may not match the grandeur of the Mysore Dasara, it possesses a unique charm that sets it apart.
The Simolanghan, a border-crossing ritual, takes place at the Vidya Niketan grounds near St. Xavier’s School Camp Belagavi. This annual fair attracts people from all walks of life, spanning across different age groups. The main highlight of the event revolves around the Aapti tree leaves, which are falsely believed to symbolize gold.
The esteemed Patil of Belagavi leads the Puja ceremony, followed by the arrival of various Palkhis (palanquins) carrying revered deities such as Venkatramna, Maruti, Jotiba, and the Aapti tree itself. During this auspicious occasion, the Aapti tree leaves are “looted” and then exchanged among the attendees, as if they were genuine gold.
One of the most diverse and captivating aspects of the celebration is Camp Dasara, which boasts a unique and distinctive ambiance. This Utsav, initiated by K T Pujari and Sons in 1901, holds a special place in the festivities. The highlight of this event is the grand procession featuring five magnificent Devi chariots, all culminating in the same grounds.
These chariots represent various goddesses, each with its own fascinating story. Marriama Devi, hailing from K T Pujari & Sons, Muthu Mariamma from the vibrant Madras BHT area, Kunti Devi from the bustling fish market, and Mariama from the historic Telugu colony, are believed to be sisters. As the sun sets, a mesmerizing procession takes place, parading these chariots through the streets. The spectacle attracts thousands of eager spectators, who flock to the vibrant High Street, yearning for a glimpse of this awe-inspiring sight.
Adding to the allure of Camp Dasara are the enchanting performances of dance and music, which fill the air with an irresistible energy. The atmosphere is further enlivened by the presence of individuals donning captivating mascots, such as tigers and lions. These mascots, with their vibrant costumes, add a touch of whimsy and excitement to the festivities, captivating the hearts of both young and old.
Camp Dasara is a truly remarkable and diverse part of the celebration. With its rich history, captivating chariots, vibrant procession, and enchanting performances, it is no wonder that thousands of people are drawn to this event year after year.
One of the major highlights in the Shahpur area of Belagavi is the Rathotsav of the Venkateshwara Temple at Vitthaldev Galli. This grand event is conducted in the exact same manner as the one held in Tirupati.
Preceding the Dasara festival, there is a Vaahanaotsav that spans over 8 days. Each day, a different vaahana (such as Elephant, Lion, Garuda, Maruti, Peacock, Horse, etc.) is featured, and a splendid procession takes place. During Dasara, a magnificent Rathotsav takes place, traversing the entire Shahapur area. Additionally, a similar Rathotsav is organized for the Venkateshwar temple near Basavan Galli-Bhave Chowk corner.
It carries the Utsav murtis which are carried by devotees on a special wooden palanquin, flaunted by the temple flags on both sides. Tiny kids hold and ring the gong with a wooden hammer. The ‘Vaahans’ or the vehicles of the Lord include the Tiger, Hanuman, Eagle, Peacock, Elephant and Horse. The ‘Vaahan’ moves through the key streets of Shahapur – Vitthaldev Galli, Acharya Galli, Saraf Galli, Dane Galli, Kacheri Galli and back to the temple.
The Shahapur temple has been under the ownership of the Naik family for over 200 years, and the Utsav has been celebrated for generations. In the past, the temple used to receive grants from the Nizam of Bijapur until India gained independence.
Happy Dasara to all!