Kadalekai Parishe 2023: Bengaluru’s Grand Groundnut Festival

Like every year, Bengaluru’s yearly groundnut fair Kadalekai Parishe saw a wave of people. Held annually at the Dodda Ganapathi Temple on Bull Temple Road in Basavanagudi, the yearly festival is dedicated to the deity Nandi (the temple’s idol is carved from a single rock and Nandi, is considered the vahana of Lord Shiva) and offers the first harvest of groundnuts to pray for an abundance of crops in the coming spring. 

It’s a unique celebration centres around the offering of groundnuts or peanuts. The fair commenced on December 11 and will conclude today and this year authorities expected a turnout of over 700,000 people. There are roughly 700 stalls in the fair stretching between 3rd Cross, N R Colony and Ramakrishna Matha out of which roughly 350 stalls are selling groundnuts; household items, textiles, and fast food are also being sold at the fair. 

Nearly 200 groundnut farmers from different parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have put up stalls around the area and around 15 different types of groundnut are on offer. During Kadalekai Parishe, buyers can buy groundnuts in bulk directly from farmers at prices cheaper than market rates. 

Most people prefer buying items of religious significance during the last Monday of Karthik Massa, which is why the fair always begins on that date. During Kadalekai Parishe, a special pooja is held at the bull temple along with some cultural performances and some traditional rituals. The groundnut, which is the mainstay of the event, is often displayed in decorative arrangements across the fair. 

The inauguration of the festival often involves a ceremonial procession, with priests performing special prayers and rituals dedicated to Lord Ganesha and Nandi. This year, authorities made initiatives for an eco-friendly Kadalekai Parishe. Considering the ban on the usage of plastic, visitors have been encouraged to bring their own bags. 

According to reports, NGOs, like Youth for Parivarthan, Basavanagudi Kannada Balaga and Prathibimba Trust are pushing for a complete band on the use of plastic bags in the festival and promoting the use of cloth bags. 

History Of The Festival

The fair is believed to have originated several centuries ago when farmers and traders gathered to offer the first harvest of groundnuts to Lord Nandi. Groundnuts, or peanuts, being a prominent crop in the region, were chosen as the symbolic offering during this harvest festival. There are some other historical reports which claim that a few centuries ago, local groundnut farmers in the region faced theft and destruction of their crops but were unable to apprehend the thief. 

A nightly vigil was organised to catch the culprit and the group mistook a bull for a thief. The bull died as the farmers tried to apprehend it and according to legends, it turned to stone. The farmers realised it was the bull who would raid their crops every full moon night and considering the bull’s significance as Shiva’s 'vahana', the farmers built a shrine dedicated to the bull. The stone bull kept growing, even beyond the shrine’s boundaries. 

Legend has it that the iron plate which is visible in the present-day on the forehead of the stone bull was put there by Lord Shiva to stop it from growing. Moreover, some legacies also claim that Lord Shiva had appeared in the dream of one of the farmers responsible for the bull’s death and the community was told to offer their first groundnut harvest to the shrine annually. The temple is estimated to have been built in the year 1537 by a ruler named Kempe Gowda, who is also the founder of Karnataka’s capital city, Bengaluru.