YOUNG WORLD

Worship of warriors

JAIDEEP SHENOY

Worship of warriors

MANGALORE

The Sri Brahma Baidarkala Garadi Kshetra at Kankanady, around 3 kilometres on the Bangalore-Mangalore National Highway 48 near here is a religious place with a difference. While the Kshetra is dedicated to the warrior brothers of Tulu folklore, Koti and Chennayya, it also, houses a dedicated shrine for Mahatma Gandhi. Garadis are the traditional gymnasium where warriors trained in martial arts use weapons including the sword. The place honed the fighting skills of the brothers, Koti-Chennayya whose valour and dare devilry has given them cult status in the region. The local populace, especially Tulu speaking community look up on the brothers as incarnations of the almighty.

The Kshetra was set up way back in March 4, 1874 as per records. While Kodamanthaya is the ruling deity here, there is a shrine for the warrior brothers and their sister, Mayandal. Besides these shrines, Kshetra also has shrines for Ganapathi, Balaparameshwari, Ananda Bhairava, Subramanya and Narayana Guru.

It was the vision of staunch Gandhian and then manager of the Kshetra, Somappa Pandit and President, Narsappa Salian to build a shrine for the apostle of peace and non-violence. Venkappa Poojary donated the idol of Gandhi at the Kshetra.

While the very idea of a shrine for Gandhi may seem odd, it is not so for those managing the Kshetra. In fact, the priest here offers daily pooja to the idol of the Mahatma, places milk and banana as offering. Special pooja is offered to all the deities at the Kshetra on Gandhi Jayanthi, where Brahma and Ganapathi are taken around in a palanquin procession in the premises.

The shrine of Gandhi was consecrated on December 12, 1948. Gandhiji is in a seated position reading a book. People who throng the Kshetra do not miss to pay obeisance to this unusual shrine dedicated to a person who advocated peace, harmony and used non-violence as his weapon.