On the last Monday of the Hindu month of Kartik (our 28 November), hundreds of farmers will travel to Bangalore’s Bull Temple from surrounding rural areas, carrying their newly harvested peanut crop in large jute sacks. The 16th-century temple and its neighbouring streets in Basavanagudi, south Bangalore, become the setting for the annual Kadlekai Parishe (peanut fair). After they make an offering to dodda basava – the “big bull”, a four-metre high statue of Shiva’s mount – the remaining crop is heaped in great piles on the pavements and roads surrounding the temple and sold during the two-day festival.
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Roads are closed to traffic as locals flock to buy unshelled peanuts directly from the farmers, or sample them prepared in different ways: boiled, roasted, or salted. Under canopies of towering trees, roadside vendors hawk other popular snacks, such as puffed rice, plates of fried bonda (potato) and bhaji, thick slices of pineapple, cucumber, and watermelon, cups of sugarcane juice, and sticky sweets such as jalebi and Mysore paks.
Though it takes place in India’s fast-paced IT capital, this celebration of the peanut has the lively atmosphere of a village fair. Vendors peddle balloons and bright pink bags of candyfloss tied to long poles, and pavement stalls offer glass bangles and plastic trinkets, pictures of Hindu divinities and terracotta pots.
The near-500-year-old Kadlekai Parishe has its origins in a legend. When farmers noticed their peanut fields were being ravaged at night by a roving bull, they prayed to him and made an offering of peanuts. The next day, instead of damaged fields, they found an idol of the creature. Ever since, farmers make sure the bull gets first dibs on their peanut harvest by making this annual pilgrimage.