'Naga Mandala' is a form of serpent worship, believed to have originated in erstwhile South Canara.In simple words 'Naga' means serpent and 'Mandala' means drawing of serpent on the ground. A unique worship where the participant dances artistically while he imbibes the serpent God into his body.Serpent worship although not very common in North India,it is widely followed in coastal Karnataka & Kerala.
'Naagamandala' is performed by two groups of performers; the 'Paatri' who gets possessed is the serpent God. The second group is known as 'Naagakannika'. The 'Naagakannika' is supposedly a female serpent. This character is identified as 'Ardhanaari' or 'Naagakannika' who dances and sings around the Mandala( Serpent drawing,drawn on the floor with natural colors).
Paatri gets possessed with the serpent God by dancing to the tunes of 'Dakke' around the 'Mandala' holding areca flowers in his hands.Once the 'Paatri' is possessed the serpent God speaks through the 'Paatri'.People seek solutions to their problems, where serpent God is believed to be answering their questions.This session of the event is typically called 'Prashne' which in Kannada means question.
The beauty of such an event is that it fullfils the religious faith giving an artistic look with 'Snake Dance' performed to the tunes of a traditional drum namely 'Dakke' & a special instrument named 'Naga Swara'.On the other hand beautifully laid 'Mandala' adds to the attraction.All the people who attend the event are served with tasty traditional food.During 'Naga Mandala' if any of the attendees goes back with dissatisfaction over the event, the entire event is believed to be fruitless.
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