Watch: To celebrate ‘goddess of war’, devotees in Mangaluru ‘throw fire’ at each other | Bengaluru - Hindustan Times
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Watch: To celebrate ‘goddess of war’, devotees in Mangaluru ‘throw fire’ at each other

Apr 21, 2024 12:16 PM IST

‘Thootedhara’ or ‘Agni Keli’, a traditional event held in Karnataka's Mangaluru, takes place every April and involves an elaborate eight-day celebration.

In Karnataka's Mangaluru, devotees gathered at the Kateel Sri Durgaparameshwari Temple on Sunday, throwing “burning palm fronds” at each other to celebrate the ‘Thootedhara’ or ‘Agni Keli’ festival in honour of the Hindu “Goddess of War”.

On Sunday, participants engage in a spirited fire brawl, hurling flaming branches at each other.(ANI)
On Sunday, participants engage in a spirited fire brawl, hurling flaming branches at each other.(ANI)

In a video shared by news agency ANI, devotees were observed igniting palm fronds before dividing into two groups. They then engaged in a ritual where burning palm fronds were tossed at each other during the festivities.

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“Devotees throw burning palm fronds at each other as part of the annual festival 'Thootedhara' or 'Agni Keli' at the Kateel Sri Durgaparameshwari Temple in Mangaluru,” ANI wrote, sharing the video.

What is ‘Agni Keli’ festival?

Annual event in Mangaluru: Agni Keli is a traditional event held in Mangaluru, Karnataka, every April. It involves an elaborate celebration lasting eight days. During this festival, participants engage in a spirited fire brawl, hurling flaming branches at each other. Agni Keli is dedicated to honouring Durga, the revered Hindu goddess of war.

Durga, the goddess of war, is frequently depicted riding a lion or tiger and wielding various weapons in her multiple arms as she battles demons. Devotees believe that Durga is pleased by bold and adventurous rituals like the Agni Keli festival, which honours her. Additionally, she is revered during Durga Puja celebrations held throughout India.

Traditional Ritual at Kateel Sri Durgaparameshwari Temple: 'Thootedara,' also known as Agni Keli, is a centuries-old tradition observed at the Kateel Sri Durgaparameshwari Temple near Mangaluru. Villagers from two Gram Panchayats, Attoor and Kodettoor, participate in this ritual.

Burning palm fronds: As part of the festival, villagers engage in a unique 'game' using burning palm fronds to pay homage to the deity. Participants from both groups toss these flaming fronds at each other, emphasizing collective participation rather than targeting individuals.

Ritual timing and significance: Agni Keli follows the Brahmaratostav and Avabhrita Snana rituals dedicated to the deity. The entire game lasts for a brief 15-minute period, after which participants return inside the temple.

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