So, what's karaga all about? Read on.

1. Karaga or the headgear is heavily decorated with jasmine in tune with century-old tradition. It consists of a secret pot! The festival is celebrated on full moon day of the first month of Hindu calendar (Chaitra). It is carried by a Veerakumara, who is chosen by the community leaders.

 

2. Legend has it that these Veerakumaras are decedents of Veerakumaras, an army of men created by Draupadi to destroy the demon Timirasura. Draupadi – after the Kurukshetra exile – along with her five husbands was waiting for a chariot that would take them to heaven. When the chariot arrived, she was the last person to get in and by the time she boarded, she was chased by a demon Timirasura. But the chariot left her all alone to face the demon. During this time, she created Veerakumaras from various parts of her being to fight the demon. After they vanquished the demon and Draupadi was leaving to join her husbands, Veerakumaras urged her to stay back. She promised them to visit three days every year during full moon day. It is said she leaves behind her shakti in a pot or Karaga.

 

3. Karaga is predominantly carried by a Veerakumara, who is selected from the priest community of Thigala sect. But, it's no easy job. The chosen one has to follow a strict ritual and also has to abstain himself from sex, meat and alcohol. He dresses himself as woman, wears mangalsutra before taking the Karaga.

 

4. The karaga-bearer is fiercely guarded by sword-brandishing Veerakumaras, who too are selected by community heads from various sects. They accompany him while he walks through the thoroughfares of the city from midnight (on 7th day) to dawn. It is said they have the power to execute him if he drops the Karaga but that has never happened till now. During the procession, he also visits the shrine of Hazarat Tawakkal Mastan Saheb at Cottonpet.

 

5. The ritual begins from Dharmarayaswami temple at Thigalarpet. This temple, perhaps, is the only temple dedicated to Pandavas in the country.

 

6. Thigalas are traditionally gardeners and are said to have migrated from Tamil Nadu.