Entrance to the Main Temple

The Festive Idol of Lord Manjunatheshwara         

The word "Dharma" traditionally means religion, ritual, duty, righteousness, and alms.
It also implies justice, truthfulness, freedom from fear, faith, solace, fulfillment and peace.


    Dharmasthala is the perfect embodiment of the word "Dharma" for it displays every shade of meaning with which this word is inspired from. The greatness of Dharmasthala, however is the fact that it has added an active element to "Dharma", which touches the lives of people with a transformational directness that is unique.

  To those that come for worship, Dharmasthala represents religious tolerance wherein caste, creed and faith of pilgrims are no bars. For here, the Jain Theerthankara is worshipped on the same consecrated grounds as the native Daivas and Lord Manjunatha (Lord Shiva). The priests are Vaishnavite Brahmins and the guardian of the temple is Heggade, a Jain by faith. Altogether forming a confluence of faiths that harmonize in belief of the Omnipotent.

     To those that come for justice, Dharmasthala is the scale that does not tip in favour of a lawyer's glib tongue. Here, without any legal formality or argument Shri Heggade dispenses justice, acting in the tradition of his ancestral role as the Heggade and as representative of the presiding deity.

     To those that come in need, Dharmasthala is an Oasis, where succour, solace and hope abound in the serenity of the temple and in the free hostelries that provide food and shelter.

     And to those that come in curiosity, Dharmasthala is a miracle of paradoxes. Here different faiths co-exist in harmony just as traditions make room for experimental services. High or low, rich or poor, devout or atheist, at Dharmasthala all are equal.

   Dharmasthala has not been content being a source of inspiration to the devout. Having expanded the meaning of Dharma to encompass the advancement of society at large, it has played an active role in bettering the lives of communities far and wide. Its initiatives have aimed at renewing the faith and hope within, so that people may be helped to help themselves.


Brahma Ratha

Shri Heggade answering the Oracle of Dharma Daivas

    Any description of Dharmasthala will be incomplete if one does not talk about its most important festival, the Maha Nadavali. It is all about accountability, responsibility and continuous fun and feast for 11 days.

    To understand the rituals of Maha Nadavali, its important to recap the past. As explained earlier in this book, several centuries ago, lore has it that Dharma Daivas (Angels of Dharma) came to Kuduma and visited Nelliadi Beedu, the official residence of the Heggades (known as Pergades those days). They requested the Heggade to vacate their residence and convert it into a temple for the Dharma Daivas. Even today it is the most revered place in Dharmasthala and regular Nemas (rituals) are conducted for them.

    During Maha Nadavali, the 'Nema' for Dharma Daivas is conducted at the specially erected mantap in front of the Nelliadi Beedu. The 'Nema' is a dialogue between the Heggade and the chosen representative of the Dharma Daivas.

              What is Maha Nadavali?

  This most important festival is conducted in Dharmasthala to seek the blessings of the presiding diety, Lord Manjunatha Swamy, the family diety of the Heggade, Lord Chandranatha Swamy, the Dharma Daivas and Annappa Swamy for the welfare of the society. As the name suggests, during Maha Nadavali all the festivals conducted during the year are encapsulated in an 11 day celebration. It starts with Moodapa offering to Lord Ganesha followed with the Laksha Deepotsava. During the five days of the Laksha Deepothsava the festive idol of Lord Manjunatha is taken to different centers n Dharmasthala and offerings are made to the Lord. On the sixth day the chest containing the ornaments of the Dharma Daivas are taken in a grand procession to Nelliadi Beedu. For the next four days the 'Nema' and 'Thambila' which are normally conducted at the Annappa Swamy Hill on the Sankramana Day of every month, are conducted at the specially erected Mantap outside Neliaydi Beedu. During these four days the Dharma Daivas along with Annappa Swamy visit Neliyadi Beedu and have a dialogue with the Heggade through a Darshana Pathri.

Painting depicting Shri Annappa Swamy bringing
the idol of Lord Manjunatha with the Dharma Daivas

    Normally women and children are not allowed to climb up the steps of the Annappa Hill and watch the Nema and Thambila conducted there. For them, these four days offer a unique opportunity to witness this ritual.

   On all these days, feasts are organized for all the devotees visiting Dharmasthala. Religious discourses, cultural programs and exhibitions are held on a grand scale.

   The farmers and the local populace too participate actively in the festivities by offering cereals, vegetables, coconut, rice, etc. to Lord Manjunatha. Called as "Hasiruvani Hore Kanike", these offerings help in conducting the Maha Nadavali festival.

   During these festivities, Dharmasthala is sight to behold. Myriad lights illumine the sacred town. Cultural Troupes from far and wide entertain the surging crowds. The whole atmosphere is charged with sheer joy and exuberance

    The 11th day celebration is not only unique but perhaps the only one of its kind to be held anywhere in the country. Called "Chappara Soore", this celebration signifies a unique sacrifice. On this day, thousands of articles used daily in households are displayed in front of Lord Chandranatha Swamy Temple. At a predetermined time towards the end of the rituals, the devotees are allowed to go wild and grab whatever they can lay their hands on and take the loot with them.  This marks the dramatic end of the 11 day long celebrations of Maha Nadavali.


    Maha Nadavali leaves an indelible impression in the minds of every visitor who gets an opportunity to witness this grand 11 day festival. It remains the topic of discussion for months to come.