Mahalaya Amavasya Puja at Neralakere, The Rituals That Reminds History

Mahalaya Amavasya (Pitru Paksha) in south India is celebrated during the month of September or October of every year based on the Hindu calendar and planet positions. It is a special no moon day where it’s believed that on that day if people perform the ritual of expression of gratitude for all those generations of ancestors who lived before us, they will bless us removing all negativity in our life. It is done as a ritual to pay homage to all our elders who are no more today.

There are different types of rituals performed during Mahalaya Amavasya and differ based on the geographical locations and culture followed by people. In general, traditional people offer the ancestor elders all the dishes and things they liked along with the clothes in the perform puja at their home OR at the place where their last rituals were performed.

It also believed that its a practice been followed by our elders so that at least once a year we remember our past and our elders who bought us up in our life and thank them for all the things we have today with their existence before and blessings.

Here is one interesting and different type of ritual which is followed in a Village called Neralakere of Nuggehalli Hobli, Channarapatna Taluq & Hassan District in Karnataka State, India.

About Neralakere Village

Neralakere village has more than 200 houses with an average population of 500 people and is surrounded by coconut farms and farmlands. The major crop is ragi and mixed cultivation is followed by some cash crops like banana, tomato, ginger, etc.

The original name of Neralakere village is Jambu Thataaka meaning the place of Jambu Nerale Hannu in Kannada which is called Indian Blackberry or Jamun in English.  Jambu is said to be a top variety of Jamun fruit. It’s said to be that this place had a lot of Jamun fruits trees which are rarely seen now.

This village is formed by the roots of 2-3 families and grew in too many houses as and how the families expanded and till today we can experience the brotherhood of single-family.

Every family is connected with each and every house in the village with some relationship and this usually happens in many villages in India.

People here are family-oriented and live the values set by their ancestors. Many neighboring villages call the elder people from Neralakere to settle down the family disputes or disputes between two villages, hence it was called Nyayakke Neralakere (Village of Justice).

All Hindu festivals are celebrated here and there are a few festivals where Neralakere stands very special for the unique way the festivals are celebrated which really makes us remember the history lessons that we had studied.

Interesting Facts of Neralakere

Popular People:

Dr. N B Nanjappa – MLA of Shravanabelagola constituency 1989-1994

S L Bhyrappa – Popular Kannada Novelist & Philosopher, Awarded Padma Shri is from the neighboring Village Santheshivara.

Nearest Historical Place:

Hoysala’s build Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy Temple & Sri Sadashivaswamy at Nuggehally 8 Kms from Neralakere. Nuggehalli Narasimhaswamy is known as a popular family deity of most of the Iyengar community in Karnataka.

Popular Temples In Neralakere & Nearby locations:

  • Kikkeramma Temple (Lord Lakshmi)
  • Doddamma Marammma (Lord Durga)
  • Masthamma (Lord Lakshmi)
  • Amaragiri chikkonahalli Sri Ranganathaswami – 8 Kms away
  • Kabballi Basaveshwara – 9 km away
  • Navile Nageshwaraswamy (Nagara Navile) – 12 km away

Significance of Mahalaya Amavasya celebration

On this festival usually, most of the Hindus offer Puja to their deceased ancestors at their home or in the burial place of their elders and seek blessings. This is performed every year as an event of remembering the elders and offering food and things which their elders liked.

Here at Neralakere, we can see a different way of celebrating Mahalaya Amavasya which reminds us a bit of historical practices been carried out.

The whole village unite together and perform the offerings and Puja to the deceased elders on the day of Mahalaya Amavasya at a commonplace which is a very special practice that we can observe and a small story of this practice is really exciting.

Puja is offered in two different places categorized for

deceased female ancestors &

-deceased male ancestors or elders.

For Female ancestors Puja is offered in a Temple inside the village called Masthamma Temple which refers to Satigallu culture from our history (stone for commemorating the Sati’s / Wife)

For Male ancestors Puja is offered in Kana called Eshwarappa Thundu  ( a place where the food grins are segregated in a piece of agricultural land in the outskirts of the village ) which refers to veeragallu culture from our history (stone for commemorating the brave soldier)

The story behind why puja was offered to Male ancestors in the place called Kana is 2 generations before one of a grand ancestor who was head of the village was sleeping in Kana (the place where the ragi grains were separated from the plant and cleaned before taking to home) to protect it grains from being looted by the robbers.

All people in the village used to get their cut crops of ragi to this kana to separate the grains from it before they took it home. All worked together in the segregation process of ragi grains from the crop one by one and used to shift their grains to their home.

Being the head of the village the grand ancestor used to sleep in kana with one labor and dog safeguarding the cut crops and separated ragi grains of village people from robbers.

Unfortunately one night a group of robbers stepped into the village to rob the grains from kana. The head ancestor, labor, and the dog tried to prevent robbery fighting with the robbers, the dog immediately rushed into the village and started barking waking up the village people. The villagers realized there is something wrong and rushed towards Kana. The robbers left all the grains in Kana and ran away but the head ancestor and the labor were found dead as they were killed by the robbers during the fight. The dog also died there itself seeing its companions dead.

In the memory of the brave grand ancestor, the labor, and the dog, all the villagers will offer Puja together on the day of Mahalaya Amavasya to all their deceased male elders in this place.

They will place 3 small stones in the kana and perform Puja which represents the 3 of them who sacrificed their lives for the welfare of Villagers and hence this is referred to as Veeragallu culture in Indian history.

In Indian history its read that the deceased soldier’s wife used to die falling into the fire or burial of the soldier which was usually called sati practice as they believed that they can unite with their husband on other planets and they had no right to live on earth without a husband,  so the reason this was referred to Satigallu culture which refers to the relationship and attachment of husband and wife.

Hence the Mahalaya Amavasya celebration in Neralakere gets special as it refers to the Indian history of Veeragallu & Satigallu practices.

The Prasada that is offered for the puja is prepared on the premises of Masthamma Temple where puja is offered to female ancestors & lost elders. The whole village will accumulate all food groceries from each house that is required to prepare the prasada.

Jaggery Rice, Mixed vegetable Kurma, Appittu (thick dosa) are prepared as Prasada by the family of Masthamma temple Pujaris.

The celebration starts around 6:30 PM in the evening after sunset & ends around 10 PM.

It starts with getting the Utsav Moorthy of goddess Kikkeramaa (Lakshmi) near the main water well of the village and preparing new Kalasas that will be replaced every year in Mastahamma temple with blessings of the Kikkeramma god. Goddesses Kikkeramma & Masthamma are believed to be sisters and every year during this festival Kikkeramma is bought to Masthamma temple with the new kalasas for Masthamma.

The 8 kalasas are carried by 8 children who remain to fast along with Pujaris for that whole day until the puja is completed at both the places i.e Masthamma Temple & Eshwarapp Thundu (Kana). The first puja will be performed in the Masthamma temple for female ancestors.

Kikkeramma &  Masthamma both together will accept the prayers and pujas performed by the villagers during the Mahalaya Amavasya and bless them. People will offer new sarees to the goddess during puja which will be kept on new kalasas and will take back the sarees on the next day as blessings from the goddess and female ancestors. They believe their female ancestors are all in the form of goddesses.

After completing the Pooja at Masthamma temple, all villagers will move to Eshwarappa thundu (kana) with Prasada and new dhotis to offer puja to the male ancestors.

3 sets of small stones will be installed temporarily during the puja in memory of three of them who had sacrificed their life for Villagers and offered puja with Prasada and dhotis.

Later all villagers will return back to Masthamma temple and do padha puja for 8 children who had been fasting and had carried the new kalasa to Masthamma temple. After padha puja prasadam is first offered to the children and later it will be distributed to all villagers.

The next day morning villagers will offer Hannu Kai at Masthamma temple and utsav moorthy  of Kikkeramma goddess is bought back to Kikkeramma temple from Masthamma temple.

The same puja rituals will be performed every next consecutive year.

Hope you find this article very exciting on a different way of celebrating Mahalaya Amavasya in Neralakere Village of Channarayapatna Taluk Hassan Dist.

Also, See Peddamma Temple Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad

Temple Timing