//When glowing charcoal becomes `mallige'

When glowing charcoal becomes `mallige'

BEERAVALLI (DHARWAD DISTRICT): Smearing one another with coloured powder and using `pichakaris’ to spray coloured water is quite common during the Holi festival. But people in this village throw glowing charcoal on one another during the annual jatra.

Beeravalli in Kalghatgi taluk is situated about 35 km from Hubli, off the Pune-Bangalore National Highway. According to the villagers, the ritual, called `Kendadokuli’ has been practised from time immemorial. The ritual is part of the annual Kalmeshwar Jatra and is usually held early in the morning after the car festival. This year `Kendadokuli’ began around 5.30 a.m. on Tuesday immediately after a few fistfuls of glowing charcoal were "poured" over the heads of two elders of the village.

Then people began to run over a heap of glowing charcoal. More than 100 devotees went round the Kalmeshwar temple several times, picking up fistfuls of glowing charcoal and throwing it over those who had gathered for the jatra. The villagers believe that if one takes part in `Kendadokuli’ with good intentions and faith in the Almighty even burning charcoal becomes `mallige’ (jasmine). They say the charcoal burns only people with wicked thoughts. Even if one receives burns, the wound heals quickly if charcoal is applied to the affected area, they say.

Legend has it that there were three brothers with the same name, Kalmeshwara. They had a difference of opinion and went their separate ways. But they decided that they would meet once a year during the jatra. It is said that Kalmeshwara of Beeravalli began `Kendadokuli’ as part of the jatra and the ritual has continued over the years.

Since, according to the legend, each of the brothers lived in different villages, the people of the two other villages too participate in the celebrations carrying `palakis’ of their deities. On their way back home they collect pieces of charcoal, as they believe that applying charcoal powder on their foreheads will protect them from evil spirits.

The whole village participates in the celebrations and everybody shares the responsibilities. "Right from collecting wood from the forest, to cutting the wood into pieces, arranging meals and all other chores are shared by the villagers. And it’s because of `Kendadokuli’ that the villagers are leading a peaceful life," says Madevappa Kunkur, chairman of the Kalmeshwar temple trust.

According to researcher Malligawada, the Kalmeshwar temple dates back to the 12th Century, and experts, such as Suryanath Kamat, have confirmed the age of the temple. But when it comes to the ritual there is not much information available except for the legend.