‘People who don’t have stories in their culture go nuts’ – Rafe Martin
‘We have many stories in our culture and still go nuts’ – Naveena.
I mean, at least in Bangalore we go nuts over nuts, groundnuts. Considered to be the poor man’s almond, mounds of groundnut is what you see on the streets in Basavana Gudi (Bengaluru, Karnataka state, India) during the annual ‘Kadlekayi Parishe’ or the Groundnut Fair. Generally, this carnival is held every year on the last Monday of the Hindu calendar month Karthika (November); occasionally the days do differ as per the Hindu calendar. Farmers from villages near and far bring in their produce of groundnut and sell them in this fair. Predominantly a fair started by the farmers around this locality, today it has farmers from neighbouring states also participating.
Considered to be one of the oldest festivals, kadlekayi parishe is a 2 day fair held on the streets of Basavana Gudi, near the Big Bull Temple – a landmark temple in the city. An engaging story behind this fair is that the locality where the fair is held every year, was surrounded by many villages decades ago where groundnut was grown in abundance. A bull on a rampage would charge on every full moon day and destroy the groundnut crop in the fields. It is to safeguard their crop from this destruction, the farmers prayed to the Basava (Nandi Bull) and pledged to offer the first crop of groundnuts every year. Following this, the people found the idol of Basava/Nandi bull nearby on the hillock – present day’s Bull temple. The idol is believed to have grown rapidly in the past and the villagers had to nail an iron peg on the head to stop the growth, which by the way is said to be seen even now inside the temple on the head of the Basava in the form of a trident.
True to their words, the farmers started offering the first yield of groundnuts to the Nandi Bull in festive celebration, which, over years has turned into a popular carnival. The belief was that the bull would return and devour all the offerings. This practice has over years turned into a grand celebration. The Dodda Ganesha (The elephant god) and the Nandi bull temples closeby, are adorned with flowers and the deities inside are decorated and puja and aarti is conducted in great fervour during these days. The festive spirit can be felt with people thronging from all parts of the city.
This time, the carnival was held in the first week of December 2018. Though I am from Bengaluru and had stayed for 20 years there, it was only some 5 years back that I visited the fair for the first time. I had thoroughly enjoyed my visit then and had loads of fun. Well, this year too, it was no less fun. The crowd had started trickling in and the vendors were all set to begin their business by the time I reached around 11 am. In some corners of the street, serious bargaining was already in progress. The street on either side had been taken over by the vendors. Essentially a groundnut fair this, one gets to see, taste and buy groundnuts of different varieties. Fresh groundnuts, roasted ones, if you are in a mood to enjoy digging into the boiled peanuts or even the masala peanuts variety – you have it all.
The event in recent years hasn’t been about just the selling and buying of groundnuts by the farmers from villages far and near but also vendors of various consumer goods have been participating in this fair. One can find in a few stalls sacks of puffed rice and the chatpata snacks like kalyan seve or the spicy mixture that goes with it. Others mix the coloured sugar candies known as batthas in this part of the country.
Where women visit, there have to be the stalls of accessories! Colourful bangles, hairpins, necklace – well, you name it and you get it. Fancy jewellery topped in the number of stalls this time round at the fair. Ladies were seen busily making purchases.
Latest additions to the goods displayed on these streets are the terracotta showpieces that adorn the walls and corners of our residence. A few eye-catching wares on sale were the games that we used to play as kids (I am not sure if kids of this generation would even know what these games are or were). Utensils, toys, household items, etc etc…the street looked so colourful.
No fair is complete without the food stalls. Mirchi bhajji, masala papad, fruit chaat and many such lip-smacking street foods make up for a wonderful walk on the street of Basavana Gudi during this carnival. By the way, the fair has gained so much popularity in the recent years that it is being held in one more locality in Bangalore – Malleshwaram.
Meeting new people, visiting the temple, eating bhajji, drinking nimbu soda, bargaining for more groundnuts and hogging a few on the go, watching the crowd float around on the street and buying all that interests you is the highlight of this visiting Kadlekayi Parishe.
If you are up for more fun, share the space with the groundnut vendors and learn the art of selling groundnut. One of the best moments of being there to me personally has to be the fun times squatting on the ground and making some sales shouting at the top of my voice ‘kadlekayi thogorallappa (buy the groundnuts, please)’! left the place and a few vendors totally amused.
Visit the fair and have fun.
Do not forget to carry bags to accommodate all your shopping requirements
It will be a crowded place, hence take care of your personal belongings.
Do not litter the streets.