The statue of Ganapati towers above me on Bull Temple Road. Two storeys high, we locals know it as Dodda Ganesh, Big Ganesh. It wasn’t easy for me to get to the temple through the bustling crowds, because I have come during the Kadlekai Parishe (Peanuts Festival), a two-day celebration when I can forget that I am in Bangalore — you know, India’s IT capital.
On this day in the area known as Basavangudi, I could be at a bustling fair in a village. It is an auspicious Kartik day. Mounds of peanuts are on the pavement all the way from here to the Ramakrishna Ashram. The heaps are so fresh they still have soil attached to the nuts, and the wet earth aroma pervades the whole area. There are colourful shops, one-storey high hand-operated wooden giant wheels squeaking, and children squealing with delight on them. There are vendors with buddhi ka baal (candy floss), gur and other candies, bangles, wooden toys, juice vendors with ice golas served up in garish colours.
There was a time when this Bull Temple area was the village of Sunkenahalli, famous for its groundnuts and annual festival. Legend has it that every year, just before the harvest, crops would be destroyed overnight. A bull would come into the fields and go on rampage. The villagers would throw stones at it to drive it away.
But it was Lord Shiva himself who had appeared in the form of a bull to guard the crops. The villagers soon realised their mistake, paid obeisance to Lord Shiva and dedicated the first crop to the bull. That was how Kadlekai Parishe started, one of Bangalore’s oldest festivals.
I go past vendors of jute and cotton bags, ice-cream handcarts and farmers selling their harvest that lets off a whiff of damp soil from their fields. There are no popcorn vendors. It’s all just peanuts.