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Karaga Festival, Bangalore

Held at the renowned Dharmaraya Swamy Temple in Bangalore, the Karaga Festival is a celebration of goddess Shakti. The festival, which starts on the full moon day of Chaitra and lasts for nine days, derives its name from the earthen pot in which the goddess is invoked. Started by a Tamil-speaking community of gardeners called Thigalars, the Karaga festival is a fiesta of spectacular rituals and processions. Just after dusk on the Karaga day, a priest of the Dharmaraya temple sets out from the temple precariously balancing an earthen pot bedecked with flowers. The priest, who observes penance for several days before the festival, is dressed in female attire in saffron hues and wears the mangalsutra (necklace) of his wife. He leads a stunning procession from the temple accompanied by a dazzling play of swords by a number of dhoti-clad, bare-chested Thigalars.

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