The Mannagudda Gurji or the Gurji Dindu or the Gurji Deepotsava is another colorful event in my hometown although the local media doesn’t seem to make much of it. I found just a few stray media reports scattered around the web and two or three YouTube videos. I have just woven together bits and pieces of information gathered from a variety of sources—friends, news reports, and readers’ comments.
The organizer of the event is the Mannagudda Gurji Seva Samithi. The major festival is actually the Deepotsava (festival of lights) of Shri Sharavu Mahaganapathi Temple, which is located in the very heart of the city. The purpose of the event is to honor and worship Lord Ganapathy, the main deity of this temple. As a friend put it, “Lord Ganesha is taken in seven different directions and worshipped. The festival turns very colorful and enthusiastic when Lord Ganesha reaches Mannagudda and Ballalbhag.”
The major attraction of this festival is its “gurji,” which I will call “chariot” for the sake of simplicity. It is decorated with all varieties of fruits and vegetables—jackfruits, tender mangoes, areca nuts, coconuts, groundnuts, figs, bananas, and ice apples, to mention just a few. Mangalorean.com says: “According to Vittaldas Pai of Mannagudda the Gurji Utsav signifies offerings made to the lord from the first crops of the bounty of nature in all its forms to the favorite god.”
A reader on Mangalorean.com has commented that the fruits and vegetables used to decorate the chariot are auctioned off the following day, and the rarest of them fetch the highest price.
The highlights of the Gurji celebrations include cultural programs and a fun fair with colorful stalls selling toys and trinkets and roadside delicacies such as sugarcane juice and chaats. The splashes of bright lights, the fireworks, the dance shows, and the music make it a mesmerizing scene.
Rajanikanth Shenoy, another Mangalorean.com reader, comments: “Gurji Deepotsava in Mannagudda and Ballalbagh has been inseparable part of my life since my childhood till the mid eighties. The sound of the dhol wakening us at midnight, denoting the arrival of Thattirayas and the Bandi utsava, and the grand finale of fireworks still keeps ringing in my ears!”
Nagendra Shenoy, another Mangalorean.com reader, mentions the fact that the Gurji Utsava is famous for the dates that are sold in huge heaps by the roadside.
In brief, it is another day out for fun-loving individuals who do not mind huge crowds, another opportunity for the devout to communicate their desires to their favorite deity.