BANGALORE: It was a pantheon of gods, 1,008 village deities to be precise, that descended on the Art of Living (AOL) campus on Kanakapura Road on Sunday for the Grama Devata Utsav. The gods and goddesses were brought from every nook and corner of Karnataka.
As the gods, or the men and women carrying them, swayed rhythmically to the beats of drums, the campus came to life. The utsav marked the opening of the two-day Karnataka Vaibhava celebrations, at the AOL. The grama devatas (village deities), especially their corresponding priests, were seen vying for the attention of their devotees. The utsav was a microcosm of Karnataka. There were four Plague Marammas, including one from Nagasandra in Bangalore.
Annamma Devi, the goddess of Bangalore, Mahalakshmi from Gorvanahalli near Hesaraghatta, Choudeshwari from Shimoga, Kanakadurgamma from Bellary, Kolhapurada Amma from Kunigal and Marikamba from Tiptur marched with pride as devotees offered them prasadams and prayers.
"Our local deity, Renukamba Devi, symbolizes power. Childless couples and those about to start new ventures come to her seeking blessings, and they never return empty handed," said Srinivas Murthy, chief priest of Sri Kalikambadevi Temple, from T Dasarahalli. "From 1961, since the temple has been established, Renukamba Devi has fulfilled the wishes of many," added Murthy, who had got seven deities from his village at the at the Gram Devata Utsav.
Among the teeming gods, people dressed up in Lord Shiva's attire were also seen. There was also a cow which was garlanded with several notes and was the cynosure of all eyes. M Basave Gowda, who was managing the line of people seeking blessings from the cow, said his cow was a miracle creature. "She (cow) fell very ill sometime back and was beyond any help.
It was due to our prayers to Lord Basava that she got a second lease of life," said Gowda, who is also associated with the Lord Basava temple at Kanakapura Taluk, Ramanagara district. "Since then she travels wherever the idol of Lord Basava goes," he added.
Among the devotees, there was a sprinkling of foreigners too, seen swaying to the drum beats. "I'm loving every bit of the Grama Devata Utsav," said John Beg Ong Khoo, a 42-yearold Malaysian, who suffers from epilepsy. "I may not understand everything that's happening but I am at peace with myself and very happy to be here," said John, who recently joined a course at the AOL.