Source : John B. Monteiro for daijidubai
Bappanadu Temple at Mulki has bequeathed to Tulu Nadu a famous saying – " Had you been to Bappanadu to beat dolu (drum) ?" or " Go and beat dolu at Bappanadu". It implies that the person concerned is good for nothing and does useless work. Bappanadu’s drum is said to be quite oversized and has been displayed at Karavali Utsav exhibition in Mangalore as one of the heritage pieces of Tulunadu.
Beyond the drum, the temple itself has a history of about 800 years. Its main deity is Durga Parameshwari and the sub divinity is Ganesh. The story of the temple’s founding, how Durga reached the spot and how the temple came to be built with the help of a Muslim trader is embedded in legend and folklore with very involved episodes. It all starts with the depredations of a demon by name Darigasura. He was destroyed by Durga Parameshwari who, along with her sisters, started on a northward journey from Kanyakumari.
When the party reached Mulki, they decided to rest in a grove of coconut trees. They saw a toddy-tapper collecting toddy and requested him to give them seven tender coconuts. As he was shaving off the coconut husk, one coconut got opened which Bhagavati accepted and drank the water. Since he was a Shudra, others in the group ostracized her and proceeded on their northward journey, leaving her behind. She declared that the toddy-tapper was her devotee and stayed put there. She transformed herself into a linga and embedded in Mulki between the Shambhavi and Nandini rivers.
Enters Bappa Beary, a Muslim trader from Kerala. He was a God-fearing, religious person with tolerance and respect for all religions. He loaded his boat with provisions for sale in far-off places along the coast in the north. As he was sailing in the Shambhavi River near Mulki, the boat stopped in the middle of the river. As he looked out, he observed the surrounding river water had turned blood-red. With fear and worry, he did his namaz and went to sleep in the stalled boat. A luminescent Durgambike appeared in his dream and said: "There is only one God for the whole world.
There are different names for him. You build a temple for me and your name will be remembered forever". Bappa Beary accepted the demand.
He went to far-off places, sold his wares and returned. Again Devi reminded him of her demand and his promise. He went to the local Jain ruler, Dugganna Samanta, and explained his dream. Samanta, with material help from Bappa Beary, constructed the temple. Bappa Beary also set up his home nearby. Thus, the place came to be known as Bappanadu.
Bappa Beary’s descendants live in an ancient house about three furlongs from the temple. When the Devi is taken in ceremonial procession, Bappa’s descendants are offered prasad on priority and they, in turn, offer fruits and flowers to the deity. This ritual is adhered to even to this day.
Bappanadu claimed to host the largest number of drums during the main festival of the temple. Delegations from surrounding villages came to the temple in procession and kept up beating of the drums at the temple site. But, over the last half a century, the number of drums has been declining because the drummers, belonging to the Koraga tribe, are either declining or diverted to other professions.
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