Namma Bengaluru was all geared up over the weekend and today for the Kadalekayi Parishe or what is commonly called the ‘Groundnut Festival’. India is the land where we celebrate just about everything and anything, and the groundnut festival has quite an important place in agriculture. Kadalekayi Parishe, literally meaning Groundnut Fair, is a 480-year old tradition in Basavanagudi – one of the oldest suburbs of Bengaluru. This year, over a 1000 farmers were expected to participate in the festival and people are especially excited since last year’s Parishe was quite a low-key affair, thanks to everyone’s favorite virus these days – the Covid-19.
What is the Kadalekai Parishe?
Kadalekayi Parishe is a Raithara Habba or Farmers’ Festival in Karnataka. It is a celebration of the first yield of the groundnut crop. The farmers from around the region congregate at the Nandi (Bull) Temple every year to seek the blessings of the God for a good harvest. Different varieties and qualities of groundnuts – Kadiri, Chitra, Kaushal, Amber, and every other imaginable one, are heaped together and brought to the temple grounds and the area around the temple, as well as around the Dodda Ganesh Shrine & the Bugle Rock Park.
Visitors to the Kadalekayi Parishe buy the groundnuts in bulk straight from the farmers at prices that are considerably lower from the market rates in the city. Special prayers are offered and ceremonies performed at the Bull Temple.
However, the festival goes beyond religion. A lot of vendors set up shop selling varied goods like bangles, jewelry, traditional toys like the Channapatana toys, clay trinkets, plastic and glass finery, mehndi tattoos, lamps, lanterns, festive fare, etc. You would also find a range of food stalls selling delicious foods like bajji, bonda, batthaas (colored sugar candies), kalyana seva or bendu (sugar coated gram), jalebis, mysore pak, colored sodas, as well as fruits like rose apples, malaya gooseberries, star fruit, raw mango, pineapple, cucumber, watermelon, sugarcane, etc. sprinkled with masalas. Vendors from as far as the K. R. Market, Kalasipaiya, etc. come down to Basavanagudi for the Parishe.
How did the Kadalekai Parishe tradition begin?
Long before Bengaluru became known for its legendary roads and traffic (sarcasm intended), the villages towards the south of Bengaluru, especially in the region adjacent to Basavanagudi was a major region cultivating groundnut. Every year, groundnut was a major crop in the region. Sadly, every year, the groundnut crop would get damaged and by a raging bull which would attack the farm and destroy the standing crop. Worried and devastated, the farmers prayed to Lord Basavana – Nandi – Lord Shiva’s vehicle – The Bull and offered their first harvest to Nandi for helping them keep their crop safe from the raging bull. Down the timeline in the 16th century, an idol of the Basava was found in the region and Kempe Gowda – a chieftain in the Vijayanagar Empire, built a temple around the place the idol had been found. This temple is known as the Basavanagudi or the Big Bull Temple. The Kadelakayi Parishe takes place around this temple every year as a celebration of the groundnut harvest and the farmers pray to the Big Bull Nandi thanking Him for protecting their crop & blessing them with abundance and bounty in agriculture.
When is the Basavanagudi Kadalekayi Parishe celebrated?
The Basavanagudi Kadalekayi Parishe is celebrated on the last Monday of the Karthik masa of the Indian calendar.
The challenges and realities of Kadalekayi Parishe now
The Basavanagudi Kadalekayi Parishe is believed to be Bengaluru’s oldest folk festival. People say the Parishe has become vendor-centric and locally producing groundnuts often take a backseat while peanuts brought in from K. R. Market in Bengaluru, Dharmapuri & Salem inTamil Nadu and Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh are sold in large volumes. The festival isn’t limited only to the last Somvar of the Karthik Masa and vendors do begin selling their groundnuts for about a week before the D-Day. Some of the vendors aren’t farmers, they often just moonlight as groundnut sellers in the Parishe, engaging in scrap collection, vegetable and fruit selling, etc. for the rest of the year. A lot of farmers from regions like Tumakuru, Chitradurga, etc. prefer to sell their peanut produce in the RMC yard at wholesale rates rather than waiting for the Kadalekayi Parishe as coming to the fair and waiting for customers can be expensive.
For a city that the rest of the country quite easily associates as the Tech City or the IT hub, it is interesting to learn about a Raithara Habba like the Kadalekayi Parishe. I was in the state visiting Mysuru for the Nadda Habba – Dasara and I have been there before to visit Hampi – the glorious UNESCO World Heritage Site and I realized what glorious culture the state as well as the city of Bengaluru has. Country fairs like the Kadalekayi Parishe are a part of our traditions and an invaluable piece of our cultural heritage. Visiting the Kadalekayi Parishe, I am sure you would forget you are in a fast-paced city like Bengaluru.
I have heard that a similar festival takes place in the nearby neighborhood of Malleshwaram as well. If you visit Basavanagudi at any other time, you would be surprised how quite and calm the locality is. There’s some good restaurants and bustling markets around but nothing that would give you any indication of the chaos and celebratory spirit the area dons come Kadalekayi Parishe. You would likely know from quite some distance away that you are nearing the festivities from the crisp aroma of roasted peanuts in the air. Visiting such local country fairs is a great experience and something everyone must experience.
Have you ever been to the Kadalekai Parishe? Do you have any unforgettable memories from the fair? Do you know about any other such interesting country fairs? Drop me a line in the comments or connect with my on Instagram – @banjaranfoodie and let’s talk!
Never stop being a Banjaran! One life, so much to see and eat and learn, what to do!