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Kargam or Karaga is a folk dance of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka which originated as a ritual dedicated to Draupadi as known in these parts as droupthamma. The ritual is performed on a full moon day.

The ritual pot filled with water and adorned with decorations several feet high is carried by the priest. The dancers perform various acrobatic feats while following the procession accompanied by a number of musical instruments like ‘Thavil’, “Nadaswaram”, “Muni”, “Udukkai”, “Pambai”, etc.

The karaga itself is a mud pot, on which stands a tall floral pyramid that is balanced on the carrier’s head. The contents of the pot have remained a secret down the centuries. The carrier’s arrival is heralded by hundreds of bare-chested, dhoti-clad, turbaned Veerakumaras bearing unsheathed swords. Tradition has it that this frenzied procession of Veerakumaras accompanying the karaga carrier can execute him should he stumble and let the karaga fall. This festival that takes place in central part of the city is called as Bangalore Karaga.

The celebration of Karaga festival in Karnataka can be traced back to over five centuries. It is believed that the festival originated in the Tigala community, a Tamil-speaking community of gardeners in Southern Karnataka. The Tigala community has been carrying forward the tradition of the festival for several centuries.

The origin of the Tigala community is not clear. Members of this community call themselves Vanihikula Kshatriyas. Some members claim that they are descendents of Veerakumars, the members of a mythological army who had helped Draupadi in her fight against a demon. Some believe that the origin of the community can be traced back to the lions of Angirasa, the sage whose offsprings founded most of the dynasties that had ruled over South India. Some others believe that the Tigalas are descendents of Agani, the Goddess of fire as per the Hindu mythology.

According to Puranas (the sacred scriptures of Hinduism), Draupadi is considered to be the embodiment of an ideal woman. The Tigalas worship Adishakti Draupadi as their community deity. The festival is celebrated in honour of Draupadi.