The Bengaluru Karaga procession has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the second consecutive year. An order from the District Collectorâ€™s office dated April 16 read that in view of the state governmentâ€™s decision to ban all religious events/rallies, the Bengaluru Karaga will not be held at the Dharmaraya Swamy temple in central Bengaluru.
Last week, the BBMP Commissioner held a meeting with the stakeholders including the organising committee. He had told the media that they had agreed that in view of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, it will not be conducive to hold the procession and the annual celebrations will be restricted to performing a pooja at the BBMP headquarters.
In 2020, for the first time, the Karaga procession was cancelled as there was a national lockdown. Instead, a small symbolic ceremony was held along with aarathi rituals inside the temple complex with just the priests present. The committee included leaders from the Thigala community, who historically have carried out the rituals and the procession.
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The Bengaluru Karaga is also known as Karaga Shaktyotsava and has been celebrated for over 300 years by the Thigala community of south Karnataka. It is a celebration of the wife of the Pandavas, Draupadi, where a man from the community dresses as a woman and carries a deity on his head. On the eighth day of the festival, the procession called the Karaga Shaktyotsava Sanchara travels through the city, visiting several temples across Bengaluru.
On March 24, the state government issued orders saying, â€śpublic gatherings and congregations during the upcoming religious festivals such as Holi, Ugadi, Shab-e-Barat, Good Friday etc. shall not be allowed in public places/grounds/parks/markets/religious places in Karnataka.â€ť The orders also said that violators will be booked under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act, 2020.
Bengaluru recorded the highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases so far on Sunday, indicating a steady rise in cases. A total of 12,793 people tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday.