The Neralu Katte event will take place at the Maramma temple at Doddamavalli. Walk through a maze of narrow lanes to experience a part of Bangalore that seems to be stuck in a time-warp, and you will suddenly come upon this beautiful, vast space. On one side, the temple enclosure has the ashwath katte – platform with the Peepul tree and the snake-stones; on the other side is a temple shrine which looks upon an open market or santhe that takes place everyday.
The idea behind this event is to experience the serenity and vibrancy that an ashwath katte can bring to a neighbourhood, and to learn from how our religious beliefs are so intricately tied to our ecological concerns. One finds that while the Administrators imagine a city that meets global standards of urban form and infrastructure, at the neighbourhood level, people continue to pray at the local tree shrines making the spaces around these trees into places of memory and cultural value. The festival event will comprise of activities that will introduce the people of Bengaluru to the katte and the community that thrives around Doddamavalli.
About Doddamavalli Katte
The origin of the Doddamavalli Ashwath Katte goes back to the time when the Maramma temple was established here more than 150 years ago. At that time, Mavalli was an area covered with mango orchards with a village settlement within it. In 1898, a plague hit the city of Bangalore and the government proposed a new extension layout at Basavanagudi adjoining Mavalli. While these new plans were being drawn up by the ruling authorities, the local communities began to set up Maramma temples in almost every neighbourhood to appease the plague goddess.
For the people in this neighbourhood, this community space has been there as far back as they can remember. It was about 100-120 years ago that this one-acre piece of land was donated to the temple by one of the residents of Mavalli. Earlier, it existed as an informal urban space around the Maramma shrine. Today, it is a more formal space that belongs to the Temple trust – the Maramma Grama Seva Sangha, that was set up about 50 years ago. The trustees of the Sangha are old residents of the Mavalli neighbourhood who belong to families that have lived here for a few generations.
The history of Mavalli itself goes back to the time when it was one of the villages outside the fort settlement of Bangalore, established by the rulers of the Kempegowda dynasty. The village of Mavalli was guarded by four goddesses at its outer periphery. Although the village has now become a part of the city, the shrines housing the four goddesses continue to exist and to be worshipped. There is the Dodda Mavalli maramma temple, the Satyamma temple, the Bisilu maramma temple and the Upparalli maramma temple. In the uru habba or village festival that continues to be celebrated here once in 3 years, the goddesses from the four temples are taken out together in a procession around the periphery of the neighbourhood.
Here are some activities that have been planned as part of the Neralu Katte event:
- Katte Parichay: A heritage walk introducing participants to the Doddamavalli Katte through conversations with the local community and members of Grama Seva Sangha.
- Storytelling: Dramatic storytelling involving the folklore around trees for children and adults.
- Art activities: The event will host various art activities including live painting, mapping and installations.