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SRI MAHALINGESHWARA MAHAGANAPATHI TEMPLE, PADUBDRI

Padubidre (Padu Bidadi), a sacred place with a number of Temples and shrines, is famous for holding Dhakke Bali once in two years. The Mahalingeshwara Mahaganapathi Temple of Padubidri is well known in the Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts. Padubidri is located on National Highway 17, 24 kilometres from Udupi and 35 kilometres from Mangalore. Nadsaalu, Avaraalu, Bengre and Paadebettu maaganes (sub division of a village) together form Padubidri.

Just half a kilometer from the south of the Padubidri bus stand is the Sri Mahalingeshwara Mahaganapathi Temple. Though the presiding God (mooladevatha) is Sri Mahalingeshwara, Lord Ganapathi is the center of attraction at this Temple. It is said that Bhrugu Maharshi installed the idol of Mahalingeshwara. The idol of Lord Ganapathi is about 2.5 feet tall and has been carved out of Rudrakshi Shila (stone). Researchers claim that the bronze utsava-murthy is at least 1000 years old and the idol of Ganapathi is probably belongs to the 11 century AD. Lord Ganapathi is popular is Ishtasiddhi Maha Ganapathi as he fulfills all wishes of His devotees.

There are a lot of historical stories about this Temple, but there are no evidences to support this. The story behind the commencement of 'Pottappa Seve' is very interesting. The horse, on which a British official was riding, did not moved further when he declined to have the Darshana (sight) of Lord Maha Ganapathi during his visit to this village. Knowing his fault, he immediately offered Pottappa Seva (a dish prepared by grinding rice and coconut) for the first time to Lord Mahaganapathi. Since then, it has become a tradition of offering Pottappa.

Katahadappa was a traditional seva, offered by Shivalli Brahmin families of this region. But, now other devotees also offer ‘Katahadappa Seve’ on the next day after the traditional Katahadappa Seve is offered. Panchakajjaya is His favourite savoury, and so the devotees offer panchakajjaya when their vows are fulfilled. Any auspicious event taking place in that area, the devotees offer Panchakajjaya to please the Lord. Special celebrations and poojas take place on Sankashtahara Chaturthi, Ganesha Chowthi, and on other auspicious days. Ganahoma, Sathya Ganapathi Vratha and Kadubu Seve are the most popular sevas (offerings) performed regularly at this Temple.

It is considered auspicious by the people of that area to begin any event/work after giving an offering to Ganapathi. A lot of developmental activities have been taking place in the Temple - a Kalyana Mantap, intricately carved Garbha Gudi (sanctum sanctorum), spacious Temple square, sarovara (pond), and Jnaana Kendra have attracted people from all corners of the district. The Ganapathi idol is adorned with silver kavacha and the sanctum sanctorum also has been given a silver coating. Daily Annasantharpane for the benefit of devotees coming to the temple was started recently. Further a plan has been prepared for renovating this Temple at a cost of Rs 1.25 crore.

For the welfare of the devotees a special pooja – Katahadappa is offered, and also an exceptional offering - Mahaganayaaga of 1008 coconuts will be conducted on the day of Margashira Chauthi in Vrashchika maasa from the coming year. From the past 3 years, Samoohika Annasantarpana Seva (mass feeding seva) has been taking place from the devotees' deposits.

As a routine, which has been going on from several years, musical instruments like Vaalaga, Dholu, Gante, and Didumbu are brought from the Sadri Temple for the offerings taking place in the local Brahmasthanas. Rice Naivaidyam (offerings) of 14 kgs rice, Pottappa Seve and Panchakajjaya Seve are offered on a daily basis. The daily holy rituals begin at 4.30 am and go on till 2 pm and resume from 4 to 8 pm in the evening.

Padubidri Chendu
The Chendu Seve, which takes place the day after the Maha Rathostava is a special occasion in this Temple. Every year the members of the Paande Saana family offer a ball made from the skin of goat or sheep, and the two teams Tenku - Badagu play the game in the Saakar style for an indefinite time. Thousands of devotees participate in the game as audience and players.

Besides the popular Malalingeshwara and Mahaganapathi Temple located at the heart of the town, Padubidri has gained historical importance with three other shrines of Lord Ganapathi - Bala Ganapathi, Udayadri Ganapathi and Kittimane Ganapathi.

Bala Ganapathi
The Bala Ganapathi shrine is just half km away from Padubidri bus stand. The clay idol would be installed on Ganesha Chowthi every year and worshipped till the end of Navarathri and will be dissolved in the sea on the day of Vijaya Dashami. During this long period, devotees offer Rangapooja to Bala Ganapathi on regular basis. It is also called as Gudde Ganapathi or Kombottu Ganapathi.

It is said that some children started worshipping Lord Ganapathi as part of their game and the tradition of worshipping Lord Ganapathi continued after an ascetic suggested to do so. A Brahmin family started offering pooja for Lord Ganapathi here and now it has become a public celebration.

Udayadri Ganapathi
Udayadri Ganapathi Shrine is situated near the Bala Ganapathi shrine. A saint, who carried out a Yathra found an idol of Lord Ganapathi here on his way to Gokarna. The family, which was first worshipping Bala Ganapathi divided and one of its units installed Udayadri Ganapathi idol in their plot, from where the sight of rising sun was visible. So, the idol was named as Udayadri Ganapathi. On Ganesha Chowthi, Lord Ganapathi makes invocation to a coconut to receive worship and the same coconut would be dissolved into the sea on the day of Yellamavasye. During the whole period of invocation, Lord Ganapathi is worshipped regularly.

In a Nagabana adjacent to Udayadri Ganapathi, we find a granite sculpture of Lord Ganapathi, probably belonging to the ninth century. It is an important example to confirm the age-old tradition of worshipping Lord Ganapathi in Padubidri village.

Kittimane Ganapathi
There is a shrine at Padubidri Bengre, where Lord Ganapathi is being worshipped by a Brahmin family of Kittimane, belonging to Gangu Royal family. A clay idol would be installed on Ganesha Chaturthi and worshipped for at least 10 days before it is dissolved into the sea.

Some cowherd boys when playing prepared a clay idol that resembled the shape of Lord Ganapathi. Observing this and apprehending some mystery in this 'playful act', a Brahmin of Kittimane family also started worshipping Lord Ganapathi and secured a child. The place was named as Gundapady or Gundaladi for it had a large number of trees yielding Kuntal, a purple-coloured fruit. A building has been constructed here to shelter the deity and to facilitate devotees offering special poojas on auspicious days.