Devaragudda is situated near Ranebennur in Haveri district, Karnataka State, India. Devaragudda is well known in North Karnataka for the Mailaralinga temple on top of the hill. The temple attracts many devotees from several parts of the state. Mailaralinga is the patron deity of warrior, farming, herding communities. The Mailaralinga epic, portrays the transformation of the pastoral Kuruba community into settled agriculturalists, after a conflict leading to a compromise with the native agriculturalists.
The Navaratri festival celebrated here is very famous with the local communities of this region and Mailaralinga devotees from all over South India. All the people take part in the celebrations with great devotion, and without any distinction of caste and class [refer endnote to connect to Vijayanagara kings].
Goravappa – consider themselves as the soldiers of Mailaralinga. They are identified by their distinct lifestyle and attire, as described by Gorava Gaddada Veerappa, Devaragudda
“when Mailara killed Mallasura and Manikasura, he wore their intestine as his turban, their teeth as a cowrie necklace, their mouth as a damaruga (hand drum), skull as a doni (meal bowl) and their skin as a long coat. The fat of the demons were used as oil and their nerves as wick for the lamp lit by Mailara after his victorious battle.”
[ref: Gunter E.Sontheimer’s Gods, Heroes and their Story Tellers: Intangible cultural heritage of South]
The goravas and goravammas are not restricted to any caste, or religion; there are some goravas and goravammas even among the Muslims of this region. Nevertheless, the Mailaralinga tradition attracts devotees from the nomadic pastoral communities of Kuruba (shepherds), Golla (cowherds), and Myasabeda (hunters).
The Gorava must fast for nine days and spend his time in prayer and worship on all the days of Navaratri. Among the Goravas and Goravis, there are different groups having specific rituals to perform, such as
Kinnara paris – plays a musical instrument called Kinnari, stringed instrument.
Kamachaveeras – the devotees who beat their body with staves, to perform blood letting ritual called ‘pawada’ for Mailaralinga
Karanika Goravas – Considered as live form of Mailaralinga.
Sanchiyavaru – the devotees carrying a small purse,
Chatiyavaru – whips himself like the charioteer whipping his horses,
Chamaradavaru – the devotees who wave the fly flaps
Sarapalli Goravas – Who have right to breakiron chain on the last day of annual jatre.
Pavada Goravas – pierce a small iron trishul on their cheeks.
Pahari Goravas – Carries alarge iron bell on their shoulder and serves as the announcer.
Nayi Goravas – imitates as dog army of Mailaralinga.
Maddle Gotavas – Playes an instument callsed maddle – like a round drum.
Doni Goravas, – give money. food or other things from their bowl to poor..
Koi kalu theevatige Goravas
Karadi Goravas – Imitates like a bear and wears large bear skin cap.
karadi Goravas –
The portable idol of the god Mailaralinga is placed into a palanquin along with a quiver of arrows. The participants hold the Tonneppa (astout piece of stick or a cudgel) and bow in their hands through the procession.
Deities procession in pallaki
In the front of the palanquin an idol of Mailaralinga riding a horse is placed, while an idol of goddess is placed in the rear. The procession goes up to a place called Shibara (a frame with an emblem of trident on the top erected on a raised platform), where, more ritual offerings such as, Donitumbisuvadu(filling the trough), Husikadana(mock fight) etc. are performed.
Later, the procession returns to the temple, where precious stones and gold are offered to the lord, followed by aarati(offering of lamps) made of hoorana (a sweet pulp made of jaggeryand boiled Bengal gram dal and ghee). These rituals are performed every evening of Navaratri.
On eighth day, Durgashtami Jaadidabbi or hundi (temple donation box) ritual offerings are made by the devotees. Then Gorava leads the procession with the Jaadidabbi following him.
In the early morning of the ninth day, Mahanavami of Navaratri, also know as Khandenavami in this region, in honour of Khandoba(a patron deity of warrior, farming, herding communities), revered as one of the forms of Mailaralinga. Ayudha pooja (worship of weapons) is also performed.
In the noon of the same day the wedding of god Mailaralinga and goddess Malati is performed according to the prescriptions of scriptures. The palanquin of the God arrives at the fixed spot. The idol of the Khanderaya or Mailaralinga arrives accompanied by the Goravas. This day the idol brought is decked as the horse rider, in which form lord Khandoba is known. The idols of the accompanying gods of Mailaralinga are also brought to this place. Then the idols are washed/bathed.
Exactly at this time the bow of Karanika is brought from Aralikatti – a village in Hirekerur taluk. The carriers of the this bow are instructed not to place the bow on the ground. As procession proceeds through each village,the bow is worshipped by the community members with the proclamation Yelukoti Yelukotige (strength of seven crores) Chnga balo, Changabalo (a corrupted form of Marathi word ‘Chaan bolo’ which means ‘say betiful’). In the evening Naivedya (offering) of hoorana is offered as is the case daily.
On Vijayadashami, the tenth day of festivities, after 3:00pm there will be a programme of miracles or exhibition. The devotees of special communities such as Kanchaveeras bring their respective apparels and wear them. They get the things like baganigoota (a peg or a stump made from the branch of bagani[a kind of tree], Jaalimullu (thorn of babool), iron rods, mini or mine (ropes) made from the leather of deer skin etc. They drive these pegs or stumps and the iron rods into their legs especially shanks. The sight of these exhibitions is hair raising and frightening. The devotees, who watch them perform such miracles, offer them bananas, sugar and turmeric powder.
Banni tree ritual
After this the Goravas belonging to shepherd community exhibit iron chain tearing miracle, a total of eleven numbers of chains are torn in Devaragudda. Among the performers of such miracles one witnesses the goravas of all age groups.
The Karanika ritual is performed on the tenth day or Vijayadashami, where the Gorava climbs a big and tall bow, utters a euphoric prophecy for the following year, which is the most awaited ritual, as people believe that the prophecy is in fact god Mailaralinga’s intentions.
End note Common people’s Dassara used to start two days prior to Royal Dassara. The King along with his family used to participate in the common people’s dassara. This dassara was celebrated towards the west from the kingdom at a distance of 5-6 forlong as recorded in Nunij’s travelogue.