Bantwal: launch of Tulunadu’s longest annual festival in Polali
By John B. Monteiro
Bantwal, March 16: The Shri Rajarajeshwari temple in Polali is once again in the spotlight due to its annual festival, perhaps the longest, which spans a month, including its five-day chendu (soccer match) between two groups of villages, before the end of the month. program. The dwajaharona (raising the temple flag), took place on March 14 on the evening of the 22nd. Chendu enthusiasts will have to wait for its start on April 7 and its end on April 11.
Polali is better known for its annual chendu (soccer match) than for its seniority and stalapurana. Shri Kshetra Polali, a scholarly book in Kannada, written by Polali Shankaranarayana Shastri, discusses many aspects of the temple, especially its deity, foundation, and founders. Like all great temples, the Polali Temple sits on the bank of a river – the Falguni River, popularly called the Gurpur River. According to some accounts, the great flood of 1446 washed away the entire township of Polali, including the palaces, leaving only the sanctum sanctorum of the temple intact. It is said to be of very ancient origin. It seems to find various mentions from the dawn of the Christian era. Shastri notes that since the temple is mentioned in Markandeya Purana, its origin may date back 5000 years. It is also noted that the Chinese traveler, Fayian, who traveled through India in the 6th century AD, wrote that “In all of Hindustan, I met no such powerful image (Murti) of any divinity”. The clay statue of the deity at Polali, at 9 feet tall, is said to be the tallest of its kind in India.
Shastri’s background paper on Rajarajeshwari is interesting. We can briefly touch on how his image settled. In ancient times, Suratha Maharaj ruled the country. He fought with a tribe of hunters called Kolavidvanshi and Suratha was defeated. He surrendered and retired to the safety of his palace. Realizing the weakness of the king, his ministers took control of the army and the administration. Sensing danger to his life, Suratha fled into the forest. There he entered an ashram where the rishi, Sumedha Maharshi, welcomed him. The king explained his situation to the rishi. The rishi offered to accommodate him at the ashram. But, the king continued to worry about what he had lost and left behind.
Then, another man reached the ashram of the rishi – a Vaisha by the name of Samadhi. He was rich; but was driven from his home by his family who were after his riches. Like the king, the Vaisha continued to remember and worry about his family. Both did not understand why they worried about those who had rejected them. The rishi guides them to know their true situation and says it is the impact of Adimahamaye. They ask the rishi to enlighten them about this deity. A long story ensued at the end of which the rishi advised the two to go to the Devi who he said would save and bless them. He also gave them a mantra to recite.
The king and the Vaisha went to the nearby river, made clay images of the Devi and his other companions and installed them while chanting the given mantra, from Namodeviya Mahadevia and started the worship. Then the two started thapasya continuously for three years. This made the Devi happy who came before them and offered to give them the boon of their desire. The king asked for a kingdom in his next life that was invincible to others. As for this life, he asked for his lost kingdom to be returned to him. The Vaisha wanted no material wealth but only moksha. These benefits were quickly granted. The Vaisha undertakes a long pilgrimage and reaches Moksha in due time. As for the king, his ministers came to him begging him to become king again and informing him that they had already defeated the enemies.
So even if you are not religiously inclined and a sports lover, please check the dates and enjoy the unique 6-day Chendu.