Till I attended the Kadalekai Parishe (groundnut fair) in Basavanagudi on Monday, I had seen visuals of a typical Indian fair only in movies. A very popular fair in this part of Bangalore, the annual fair has groundnut farmers from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu thronging to Basavanagudi to sell various varieties of groundnuts. It is not just groundnut farmers who take part in the fair, vying for attention along with them are vendors selling toys, fruits, candy, dresses, doodads, idols, tablas, masks and more. The atmosphere on the roads surrounding the famous Bull Temple, which is where the fair is held every year, is drowned in the cries of vendors, voices of people, sounds from a variety of whistles, hysteric youngsters, honking of vehicles and more.
In spite of the huge crowds, I found the experience of visiting this fair exhilarating. There was so much festivity in the air, I hardly felt like I was in Bangalore coming as I was from a rather sleepy corner of the city. I would say the festivity here is not only because of the fair but also the presence of many temples in the area. Almost all of them were super-crowded. Though I badly wanted to visit the Bull Temple, I just couldn’t make it. However, I managed to enter the Karanji Anjaneya Swami Temple which like the Bull Temple was built by Kempe Gowda, the founder of Bangalore. The serene atmosphere inside the temple was a complete contrast to the hullabaloo outside.
If you are wondering, what the fair is about, there is a lovely story to it. Once upon a time, Basavanagudi [the name of the locality translates to Bull Temple in Kannada], was surrounded by groundnut fields. Every month, on a full moon day, a huge bull would race through the fields and destroy the crops and in the process the livelihood of the farmers. The worried farmers then prayed to Nandi [a bull, who in Hindu mythology is the vehicle of Lord Shiva] asking him to help them. As a token of gratitude the affected farmers promised to offer their first crop to him. From then on the bull stopped ravaging the groundnut crops and the grateful farmers fulfilled their promise. Many years later, Kempe Gowda found an idol of Basava in the vicinity. He constructed a temple to celebrate the Basava idol which is why the name Bull Temple. And with every first harvest which they offer to Basava, the farmers together hold a two-day fair to sell their groundnuts.
The popular fair is also a great place for camaraderie and oh yes for photography. But be sure to finish off with your pictures by 7pm because later the surging crowds may make it difficult for you to click. Here are some scenes from the fair: