The Jambri Mahotsavam: a unique experience
How about a trip to the natural air conditioning of forest during summer? What more else you need if you have got to attend a festival along? The fun packed adventurous trip to Nettanige of Kasaragod district to attend the Jambri Festival was indeed a unique experience.
Nettanige is a border village of Kerala where this festival is held every 12 years. This year’s festival was on 2nd of May.
We visited the temple to know more about the festival. By the time we passed Cherkala via Kanhangad, big towns had disappeared. After that just small towns with few trees came to our sight. Even the number of vehicle passing by also became less and less as we passed Mulleri town. We can reach Nettanige via Bellur-Kinningar Road or via Sullyapadav if we are travelling from Karnataka.
The name of the temple in Nettanige is Mahathobara Sree Mahalingeshwara Kshetram. This temple looks an ordinary temple but the folklore and customs are all peculiar. They were all briefed to us by the Managing Trusty of the temple N Damodaran Maniyani Nakoor. The Main Deity in this temple is Lord Shiva. The Deity Gulikan is next to Lord Shiva. There is a ‘Swayam bhu’ cave to the north of this temple. The story of the temple starts from this cave. To reach the cave we need to cover 6km by foot. Prayers and offerings are done only during Jambri festival day. During this time, a walkway will be made for people travelling by foot attend the celebration. Almost half a lakh people, mostly from Karnataka, attend this custom of walking through the temple.
If you want to visit this cave during any other days, a jeep is a prerequisite. Shiv Prasad, son of Damodaran Maniyani came with the vehicle. Adv. Padmanabha Kuladappare, member of the trusty and security officer of the temple Kunhikannan accompanied us to the cave.
By the time we covered our first kilometre, the road had narrowed down into a bumpy mud paved path. It is difficult for an ordinary driver to negotiate this path. Luckily, Shiva Prasad had enough driving experience on such tracks. After a ten-minute drive, we were travelling through the forest -- the Karnataka forest on one side and Kerala Forest on the other side. The scorching heat was left behind and we could enjoy the cool breeze of the forest. The climbers were hanging by and we were told that wild boars and bison were found in the forest.
Our 30-minute journey came to halt at a grass-covered rock top. It was mid afternoon by then with the sun right over our head. The name of this place is Chendathadukka also known as Jambrithadukka locally named after the Jambri Cave. This place is a part of the Banthaje forest.
We walked towards the cave after removing our footwear. This cave would lead to the other rock. There is a Banyan tree grown outside from the cave. Hardly a person can enter the cave at a time and all are not allowed to do so. During the festival day, a special group known as “kappadanmar” who show the path, enter the cave first. They are followed by the Brahmins and the Main ‘Thantri’ (priest) who perform the poojas and offerings. They return after the one-and-half-hour long pooja.
The “Kappadans” get themselves ready for the entry to the cave after a 48-day-long ‘Vratham’ by cutting all contact with the outside world. No one would imagine that so many can enter the cave. The mud taken from the cave is given as the ‘Prasadam’ and the natives preserve it. There is also a belief that they should not tell anyone what they saw inside the cave.