Siddappaji Fair, Chikallur

Mountains of Ragi (finger millet) balls can be seen from a distance, they were covered in plantain leaves. Scores of devotees who had come for Siddappaji Fair were having quintessential breakfast i.e. Ragi Mudde with Avarekalu Saaru (Hyacinth bean curry).

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People of two nearby villages Bandalli and Tellanur cared about the devotees coming from faraway places to the fair. They had formed two groups, worked from 11 in the night to 6 in the morning to prepare Ragi Mudde and Avarekalu Saaru so that devotees can have a free breakfast. Every household of these villages contributed some amount of Ragi and Avarekalu, they think this as contribution towards Siddappaji who is revered at Chikallur.
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Chikallur is a village in Kollegal Taluk, Chamarajanagara district in Karnataka. Siddappaji fair held in the month of January attracts scores of devotees.
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Manteswami Maha Kavya and Male Madeshvara are the most renowned oral epics of South Karnataka region. Manteswami was a folk hero and legends were built around his life. Manteswamy is a living tradition in and around these regions.

Legend says ‘Manteswami had confrontations with Veerashaiva saints. People from few communities who were neglected during Sharana movement seek a leader who could take care of them, Manteswami was among them. Throughout Manteswami saga, he picks up infants for his cause. Each child represents the community that comes in to the Manteswami fold. His chief followers include Rachappaji, Topina Doddamma (Doddamma of the Groove), Channajamma, Madivala Machayya, Phalaradayya and Siddappaji. Manteswami had a desire of attracting Panchaala (Vishwakarma) community members and to make them his followers. Vishwakarma community comprises of five sub groups – carpenters, blacksmiths, bronze smiths, gold smiths and stonemasons. Kempachari was from the Panchaala community and was a blacksmith. Manteswami to attract Panchaala community begged for Kabbina (Iron in Kannada). Kemapchari resisted this and Manteswami with all his powers turned Kempachari to be his follower. Kempachari stayed at Kalinga cave for 12years and later became Siddappajji. Manteswamy acquires many followers in a number of communities and settles down at Boppagoudanapura. His ‘samaadhi’ is found in this place. Two of his important disciples have their shrines at Chikkelluuru and Kappadi.’

Neelagara’s belonging to the category of professional religious singers. They vow their loyalty to Manteswami and are responsible for preservation and propagation of oral epics. Neelagaras hail from and practice their art in the districts of Chamarajanagara, Mandya, Mysore and Bangalore (Rural) districts. Tanpura (tambUri) is their main instrument.
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Manteswami gave baari Kandaya (rod which is placed above the rice in the pic) to his disciple Sidappajji. This is being prayed by the devotees.
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Fairs do attract people to exhibit their culture and also serves as a platform to earn.

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Vibhuti and a black paste is being applied on the devotee forehead.
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Karadi (Bear) hair carried on top will be placed above the head of devotees as a blessing. It is being transferred from one generation to another.
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Paari gante, looks similar to Onake (Pestle) was used during old times to seek attention from people and to convey important information. This is also carried from one generation to another.

Devotees as part of harike did Urulu seve in front of the temple.

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A Family from a village donates Oxen to the temple and the oxen is being revered as Siddappaji. When this oxen dies, another oxen should be given by the same family. This is being carried out for many generations. Here oxen is seen inside the temple.
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Oxen is decorated with few instruments around its horns, forehead, neck and legs.
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Siddappaji photo is tied to its horns and few devotees have also placed currency notes.

Post decoration, oxen is taken to the main temple.

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Devotees take blessing from Oxen.
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As part of harike, people will lie down on the ground. Oxen will walk above them without touching them.
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Devotees had offered hair to god as part of Mudi seve, here draped in white dothi and shalya are waiting for the pooja to begin inside the temple.
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