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This article describes the way Dasara festival is celebrated in the city of Madikeri in the Indian State of Karnataka. It has an history of over 100 years. Madikeri Dasara is a 10 day celebration, which is beautified by 4 Karagas and 10 Mantapas depicting killing of Asuras [demons] by Suras [God/Goddess]. Preparation for Madikeri dasara starts before 3 months. Most of the money for this celebration is collected from the people of Kodagu. Each of these 10 Mantapa committee has 50 to 100 members. A Mantapa comprises idols of height 8 to 15 feet, which is set up at the front of a lighting board. The cost of building a Mantapa will be Rs. 3 to 5 Lakhs.
Many years ago there was a Disease in Madikeri, which caused the people to suffer a lot. The Disease has spread all over Madikeri Town. The King of Madikeri decided to start Mariamma festival. Hence from that time onwards Mariamma festival is started. The festival starts the day after Mahalaya Amavasye. Hence Dasara starts of with four Karagas.
Note ; Second Famous Dasara Festival in India.
Karaga in Madikeri Dasara
There are 4 Mariamma Temples in the town:Dandina Mariamma, Kanchi Kamakshi, Kundurumotte Sri Chowti Mariamma and Kote Mariamma. Each of these Mariamma Temples has Karaga, which starts on the first day of Navaratri. These four Karagas represent the "Shakthi Devathas" of the town. All the Temples will be decorated by Lights and the whole Madikeri looks more beautiful on these 10 days.
On the first day of Navarathri, the priests of these four Temples carry the tools required to build karaga on their head and make their way to a Place called Pampina Kere. The members of the Temple Committee also join this puja at Pampina Kere. A team of Volaga (a type of Band in Kodagu ) will also accompany these Karagas. Volaga gives the people an indication that the Karaga is coming and also it gives a rhythm for the Karaga Dance. The priest who takes up the Karaga is dressed with Yellow coloured Kacche. Also the Priest's head is shaved. He holds a Knife in one hand and a Wooden stick (called as Bettha in Kannada) on the other. These Priests start build Karaga by using Flowers like Jasmin, Kanakambara, Sevantige etc. After building the Karaga, there will be a pooja for these four Karagas. The Temple Priests take the Karaga on their head after this pooja and head towards their Temples. Karaga dance is very nice to watch. The people of Madikeri give puja for all the Karagas. Till Aayudha Pooja, these Karagas visit almost every home of Madikeri and take pujas.
The city Dasara Committee organises cultural programs all the 10 days. The first 7 days the programs will be there at Kauveri Kalaskhetra. Rest three days the programs are conducted at a Stage near Raja Seat. On the day of Vijayadashami, there will an orchestra from night 9 p.m. till morning 6 a.m. The program concludes with the price distribution cermoney for the top 3 Mantapas.
Procession of Mantapas
Another main attraction of Madikeri Dasara is the Procession of Mantapas from 10 Temples. The procession starts in the Night of Vijayadashami. Each Mantapa is of height about 21 to 25 feet. Studio setting is also done for these Mantapas. There will a Band set in front of every Mantap for the youth to dance. Whole Night Lakhs of people will be away from their houses to watch this procession. Each of these Mantapa depict the historical stories of Hindu Mythology. The Idols in the mantap are given movements to match the story. Top Three best decorated Mantapas will be given prizes from the city Dasara committee.