India | Karnataka


Nagamandala is a quaint ritual prevalent mainly in coastal Karnataka region (Dakshina Kannada District and Udupi District). It is an all-night ritual performed as a worship to the serpent god.

Observed mostly by the Brahmins, Nagamandala is performed during December to April, before the monsoon. There are two groups of performers in Nagamandala – the first being 'paatri' (a Brahmin) who after inhaling the areca flowers gets possessed by the cobra God, and the second group is known as 'Naagakannika' identified as 'ardhanari' who dances and sings around an elaborate serpent design drawn with natural colors on the sacred ground.

The 'vaidya' community group draws the designs (a circle of snakes) on the sacred ground using five different colors. The five colors are white (white mud), red (mix of lime powder and turmeric powder), green ('jangama soppu' green leaves powder), yellow (turmeric powder) and black (roasted and powdered paddy husk). The combination of these five colors is called as 'panchavarnahudi' in the local dialect.

Sarpam Tullal of Kerala are the counter parts of Nagamandala.

Nagamandala performed in the Kukke Sri Subramanya Temple is much famous and attracts thousands of devotees. Moodabidri, Brahmavar, Kundapura and Baindur are the other places where this ritual is performed amid much pomp and splendor.

Updated on 21st May, 2015


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