Dharmastala

The temple town of Dharmasthala is situated on the banks of the NethravathiRiver in Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka. The village is known for its DharmasthalaTemple which houses the shrine of Shiva, Manjunatha, Ammanavaru, Chandranath and the Dharma Daivas (Guardian Spirits of Dharma) namely Kalarahu, Kalarkayi, Kumaraswamy and Kanyakumari.

 

Dharmastala represents religious tolerance. The temple is unusual in that it is run by a Jain administration, while the poojas are conducted by Hindu priests of Madhva order. A Jain Tirthankara is worshipped beside Daivas and Lord Manjunatha (Shiva). The priests are Vaishnavite Brahmins and the guardian of the temple a Heggade (Jain). Lakshadeepa- the festival of lights is the annual festival of Dharmasthala comes off in November–December. On an average the flow of pilgrims is about 10,000 people a day. A mechanised kitchen provides free food for all pilgrims and there are guest houses with modern amenities.

 

The system of free mass marriages started here in 1972 mainly to fight against dowry system and to cut unnecessary expenses involved in the celebration marriages. The annual mass marriages are held usually during April every year. The ceremony is arranged by DharmasthalaTemple committee. The average flow of pilgrims is about 10,000 people everyday and each of them is an honored guest. Free food is provided to devotees and the temple has modern machinery and makes quality food continuously throughout the day and the place is maintained meticulously clean. The Siddavana gurukula started by the Late Manjayya Heggade has become a model educational institution with over 250 students provided free lodging and boarding. Students learn Sanskrit and learn yoga in addition to basic school curriculum. The specialty of this institution is its endeavor to teach values based on Indian Culture.


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