Mekkikattu Nandikeshwara Temple


Mekkikattu’ – place with many wooden Bhuta Icons, is situated near Shiriyara village 6 km from Barkur town, of Udupi District (Karnataka State, India). According to a legend jambukeshvara a sage was engaged in a strong penance at this place, installed ‘nandi’ (Having human body and the oxe head of a spirit or pantheon diety or bhuta) the vehicle of Lord Ishvara as the guardian spirit in order to protect himself from disturbances of evil power. To safeguard the place of sanctity he established a number of bhutas in this shrine.

In a spacious hall near the sanctum there are a number of wooden icons representing vanquished soldiers, horses, elephants of Keladi kingdom. Once Keladi ruler marched in order to loot the wealth of Barkur. (Circa 16th century A.D.) Barkur was the wealthy capital of a chieftain of Tulu kingdom. When Keladi army encamped near Mekkikattu before the final assault, the Barkur chief apprehending defeat invoked Nandikeshvara to protect the country by his supernatural powers, Immediately dumbness and immobility overpowered the Keladi soldiers. The army leaders consulted astrologers and were promptly told to compensate whatever loss was caused to their soldiers. Finally every one became normal, In commemoration of the event their king presented the wooden images to the shrine. These wooden images are called ‘uru’ and the wooden icons hall is called urusaale. This shrine has more than 150 wooden icons, and more than 200 aniconic (idol less) supernatural spirits associated in the area, some of them believed on the seat of wooden bench which is placed in “T”- shape. Few spirits are under a tree. On every ‘sanmkramana’ (an auspicious day for Hindus) or eventually on 5th and 20th (day) of every month there will be a trance rites or possession as a grand festival.

In the month of February or March the yearly festival take place on the day of ‘sankramana’ i.e, 14th onwards. Out side three major iron poles are fixed, on this pole another horizontal pole fixed at its axis. At the one end a cradle will be tied, to the other end remains a fixed long rope. The devotees who have taken the oath of offering the service of sedi or sitting in a ritual cradle. During the festival ‘sedi’ performance considered an important ritual. The main spirit or Bhuta of this temple is called nandikeshvara’ or ‘aakasha nandi’. This place is also famous for mother deity, and an interesting wooden icons, sanctity places also could be seen at’Mekkikattu’.

Icons of this place is having large collection, similarly in ‘Soodigadde’ (of Belake region) near Bhatkal one can find similar wood icons in thousands. These are all offered by the devotee to overcome his or her disease. The size of the wooden icons varies, more icons belong to the deity called ‘maastiyamma’. Wooden icons are worshiped in the ‘Garodi’ (shrine dedicated to twin hero’s of Tulu culture) and as part of influenced culture one can see wooden image i.e, muslim sufi icon, ‘joogi’ or of Baaranathpanth of North India etc.

S.A. Krishnaiah


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