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Garagalu
 
 
Garagalu


'Garaga' means a pot. In the context of village rituals and dance form, it is a pot, usually made of brass and decorated with turmeric and vermilion and with a colorful cloth.

The artist dances to accompanying music and beat of two dappus balances this pots on the head. This brass vessel has a five-headed serpent on it. Below it is a sesha saivam and a Lingam. There is also an umbrella that covers the Lingam. Around the Lingam there is a Panavattam. The garaga stands on a base.

In the olden days the garaga, also known as ghatam, made of clay, borne only by the ganachari the pujari, of the local Goddess, who goes round the village during the festival of the Goddess taking cooked rice and eatables from women in each house in the village. The ganachari, as the representative of the Goddess, is worshipped at each house by pouring water on his feet before offering is made.

The garaga, in such circumstances, stands for the Goddess. After the festival, the garaga is kept in the local temple until the next festival. The ganachari dances to the rhythm of the instruments and often goes into a trance. The ganachari usually belongs to the Washerman's, potter's or the Asadi community.

There are also legends that stress the importance of the garaga. This legend is about Draupadi, who, when accompanying her husbands to swarga after their death, suddenly fainted. When she woke up after sometime, her husbands disappeared. And a demon called Timirasura obstructed her onward journey. Then she became angry. She grew in size and wore a pot on her head, which shattered Timirasura to pieces. The pot is the sacred vessel sent to her by the Goddess and its very presence put the demon to death.

Another story says that Draupadi, immensely, pleased with having five husbands, as per the boon she got, put the Palasa she was carrying on her head and started dancing with joy. In course of time, this has earned popularity as a 'procession form'.

Groups of Asadis carry decorated brass pots on their heads and participate in the night-long festivals of the Mother-Goddess, dancing all the while to the varying rhythms of the drums. The garaga, during the entire festival, is the 'utsava vigraha', an image of the Goddess to be taken in procession. As it is practiced in the religious festivals today, it is a vigorous dance, performed by twelve to sixteen artists, to enthuse the devotees during the all-night rituals. They make use of many jatis while dancing and also use synchronizing gestures.

The performers wear a tight knit pajama of red or yellow color and a kurtha of another matching color, with folds at its bottom. It is tied to the waist with a dhatti. They wear a turban on which stands the garaga that too decorated appropriately. They also wear a colored cloth in the same way as the yagnopaveetam (sacred thread) is worn i.e., across the left shoulder down to the right arm. The elders say that this is the sign of initiation to carry a garaga.

The artists carry the branch of a vepa (neem) tree in their hands and sprinkle water from the garagas on houses and people which is a sign of propitiation of the surroundings and the devotees. This is often done at the request of the villagers, who believe that such propitiation will better their prospects and curb diseases.

 
 
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