Mangaluru: At this point of time 147 years ago, a tradition of decorating a chariot with fruits and vegetables in dedication to the foodie deity came into form. In a land of multiple cultures and traditions, the “Mannagudda Gurji’ is one tradition that was, is and will be upheld by the Mangaloreans for decades to come.
Gurji is a Marathi word which means pillars made of wood that are garlanded with various fruits and vegetables. It is considered to be an offering from a part of the seasonal yield. Legend has it that in the yesteryears, people would find such exotic fruits and vegetables in this part of the state while it would not be available anywhere.
In the year 1869, a Mangalorean Ganapathi devotee by the name Vadiraj, started the tradition of building a chariot of wood and decorating it with the fruits and vegetables of the season while placing an idol of Lord Ganesha in it while lighting lamps at his residence in the presence of his friends and family. In 1992 however, a trust was formed under the banner “Mannagudde Gurji Seva Samithi Trust” to take care of the interests of this tradition including organising the event, construction of the chariot and distribution of wealth generated out of this cultural gala.
It is also the time of year when several residents of Mannagudda linger in a feeling of nostalgia after they recall their younger days celebrating this festival with fervor. It has also been a tradition for the localites here to offer vegetables and fruits for the Lord in an office set up by the trust. These vegetables and fruits offered by devotees are used in decorating the chariot which is later auctioned to the public.
The 147th jubilee of this fest held on Saturday, November 26, is a witness to a variety of cultural programmes related to dance, music and art as well as the festivities. Moreover, the interest amount received by the trust on their education, cultural and health funds to the tune of Rs. 1.5 Lakh will be distributed to high school, engineering and MBA students as scholarships.