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.
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
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.