Devotees Celebrate 'Agni Keli' Festival in Mangaluru, Honoring Goddess Durga

In Mangaluru, devotees celebrate the centuries-old 'Thootedhara' or 'Agni Keli' festival by playfully hurling burning palm fronds at each other, honoring the Hindu Goddess of War, Durga. This vibrant cultural tradition showcases the deep-rooted devotion of the community.

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Rafia Tasleem
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Devotees Celebrate 'Agni Keli' Festival in Mangaluru, Honoring Goddess Durga

Devotees Celebrate 'Agni Keli' Festival in Mangaluru, Honoring Goddess Durga

In Mangaluru, Karnataka, devotees gathered at the Kateel Sri Durgaparameshwari Temple on April 21, 2024, to celebrate the annual 'Thootedhara' or 'Agni Keli' festival. This centuries-old tradition involves participants throwing burning palm fronds at each other as a way to pay homage to the Hindu Goddess of War, Durga.

The festival brings together villagers from two Gram Panchayats, Attoor and Kodettoor, who engage in a 'game' using the flaming fronds. The ritual, which lasts for about 15 minutes, follows other ceremonies dedicated to Durga, such as Brahmaratostav and Avabhrita Snana.

During the event, devotees divided into two groups playfully hurled the burning palm fronds at each other, symbolizing the worship of Durga. The festival is a vibrant cultural event in Karnataka's religious calendar, bringing together devotees in a spirit of celebration and devotion.

The Agni Keli festival is deeply rooted in tradition and is restricted to residents of Kateel town and nearby villages. Participants fast for eight days during the festival period, abstaining from meat and alcohol consumption.

The Durgaparmeshwari Temple, situated amidst the river Nandini on an islet in the Dakshina Kannada district, is one of the oldest temples in Kateel and holds significant religious importance. Hundreds of worshippers, predominantly bare-chested men in dhotis, participate in the ritual as an act of reverence to Goddess Durga.

Why this matters: The Agni Keli festival is a unique and vibrant cultural tradition that showcases the deep-rooted devotion and religious fervor of the people in Mangaluru. The festival not only brings the community together but also highlights the importance of preserving and celebrating ancient customs and beliefs.

The festival is a part of the larger Durga Puja celebrations across India, honoring the deity Durga who is depicted riding a lion or tiger and wielding various weapons. Devotees believe that Durga is pleased by bold and courageous rituals like the Agni Keli festival, which celebrates her as the Goddess of War.

Key Takeaways

  • Annual 'Thootedhara' or 'Agni Keli' festival in Mangaluru, Karnataka.
  • Devotees throw burning palm fronds at each other to honor Goddess Durga.
  • Festival brings together villagers from Attoor and Kodettoor Gram Panchayats.
  • Participants fast for 8 days and the ritual lasts for 15 minutes.
  • Festival showcases deep-rooted devotion and preserves ancient customs.