Coming together to celebrate is at the core of human nature. For centuries, Jatras (or Yatras) have served the dual purpose of celebrating the post-harvest season when the farmers have some money in their hands, and the coming together of people for worship. These Jatras are mainly associated with the local deity, mostly the Gramdevata or the village deity like Goddess Laxmi, Basava, or Shiva in one or the other forms.
Belagavi is abuzz with Jatras soon after Gudhi Padva. Many of these Jatras have a specific timeframe. Some are annual, like the Mayakka Chinchali, Mangsuli, Khandoba, Kokatnur Yallamma, and the Bhavkaidevi Jatra at Mohanga village, all near Belagavi. Basavanna is the main deity in the Belagavi region whose temples celebrate the Jatras at Khade Bazar Shahapur, Hosur, Basavan Galli in the city, Kudachi (Kalmeshwar and Basaveshwar), and more. Mahalaxmi (or Devi in various forms and names) is also a deity whose temple celebrates Jatras with much enthusiasm and devotion. It is a way in which people express their gratitude for a good harvest, share their resources with friends and family, pray for a better year ahead, clean and prep their houses and the whole village and relax and have some fun with good food and entertainment. Where in the world would you find something like this?
A very unique concept of ‘Inglya’ is when people bathe and walk over burning embers as gratitude for some wish fulfilled. Kudachi also hosts the famous Brahmaling Jatra every year which is marked by the devotees gathering firewood for the fire walk from the Kakati area. Thousands of devotees gather at the temple at daybreak when the main Pooja is conducted. The Jatra begins a week before Ugadi and culminates on Ugadi day.
Vadagaon’s Mangai Devi Jatra is known far and wide. This Goddess is worshipped as a form of Goddess Durga or Shakti. The Jatra is celebrated every year in the month of Ashadha on the twelfth day of the waning phase of the moon. The Margai Devi in Bhandur Galli in Belgaum also has its own Jatra which is celebrated once in 5 years. On the main day, the ceremonial procession sees the whole town smeared in Bhandara or Turmeric being showered on everyone.How Jatras make a difference
– Jatras give a huge boost to the local economy. Everything from Pooja items like flowers, coconuts, and sweets to shops selling toys, ice creams, cosmetics, balloons, food items and clothes find their place on the roads leading up to the main temple. Vehicles plying devotees, cloth shops, grocers, everyone makes good business.
– Families, relatives and friends come together to celebrate Jatras. People visit their hometowns, especially for this purpose. Relatives are invited for food. Married daughters are invited and showered with gifts. Houses get a makeover and kids and women folk get new clothes. Several days before the main event, people of the village stop having non veg food and do not consume alcohol. At the Bhavkeshwari temple at Mutage, people follow this for 5 weeks before the event.
– These Jatras serve as a great tool for communal harmony. Grains, jaggery, oil, and other raw material is collected from all households. People from all castes and religions equally participate in the worship of the deity and partake of Prasad with devotion. Several devotional and cultural programs like Kirtans are also organized on this occasion.
The famous temple of Goddess Laxmi at Kanagale near Belagavi celebrates the Jatra every year on the first Friday after the full moon in the month of Magha. A week before the Jatra, devotees gather at the temple on the hillock and beseech the Goddess. An earthen idol is prepared and consecrated for the purpose. Devotees believe that the face of the Goddess which is happy at the beginning of the Jatra turns somber as the festival ends, owing mainly to the fact that the deity returns back to her abode in the hills. On the day of the Jatra, the women perform the ritual of ‘Oti bharne / Udi tumbuvudu’ where the Goddess is offered Khun fabric, coconuts, flowers, haldi-kumkum, bananas/ mangoes, pan-supari and at times even a saree (usually a Khun saree).
Desur is another small village, 14 kms from Belagavi that celebrates the famous Jatra of the Goddess Sateri. This deity is predominantly worshipped in Goa. Legend has it that around 1559, the Shenavi family migrated from Kutthali in Goa to escape the enemy siege. They brought with them the original idol of the Goddess. Since the Goddess required animal sacrifice and the Shenavis were vegetarians, they handed over the rights to worship to the Gurav and Patil families of the village. Every year, the Jatra is celebrated in the month of Chaitra, soon after Ugadi.
Bhaveshwari Jatra- Daddi Mohanga, Yallamma Devi Jatra at Saundatti, Chinchali Mayakka, Mahalaxmi Devi at Yelimunnoli (Hukkeri), Kalmeshwar Jatra at Halaga, Banashankari Jatra and Palaki Utsav are some of the major Jatras of Belagavi region (this is not a complete list).
Every village has its own local deity that is worshipped once a year (or after every 2/5/7/12 years depending on the customs) with much devotion. This is the cultural heritage of our country that makes it all the more endearing.