A low-key 198th car festival amid country’s first COVID-19 death
For the first time in history, the annual car festival of the famed Sharnabasaveshwara temple, which is held in the evening every year, was pre-poned a few hours from schedule this year amid the country’s first death reported in Kalaburagi due to COVID-19.
The Sharanabasaveshwar Samsthan, meanwhile, decided to keep the car festival a low-key affair this year keeping in mind the safety of the devotees participating in the car festival.
The devotees were asked to disperse immediately after the rathotsava and return to their native places.
However, the scare of COVID-19 and the death of a septuagenarian due to the novel coronavirus in the city did not deter the devotees from participating in the car festival. All the rituals of the rathotsava began a few hours before the usual time.
At 4 p.m., Poojya Dr. Sharanabasavappa Appa, the eighth peetathipati of the Sharanabasaveshwar Samsthan, signalled the beginning of the annual car festival and the fortnight-long annual fair by displaying the holy silver bowl (Prasada Battalu) and the Linga Sajjike (the cover used for keeping the Linga) made up of Sandalwood and used by Saint Sharanabasaveshwar.
The devotees pulled the decorated temple car around the temple complex and flung bananas tied with dry dates at the temple car.
The number of devotees that turned up for the rathotsava to commemorate the 198th death anniversary of the 18th Century social reformer Sharanabasaveshwar was very low-key in comparison with the crowds in the previous years.
The rathotsava also marked the ascension of the holy order (Peetarohana) of the eighth Peetathipathi of the Samsthan Dr. Appa.
Though right from the morning people from different parts of the district and neighbouring States thronged the temple premises, there were no long queues this year.
The Health Department has directed those concerned to take precautionary measures, besides deputing adequate staff, doctors and medical assistants.