Coastal Karnataka (Dakshina Kannada and Udupi district) has a fantastic all night ritual performed during December to April. The ritualistic performance starts before monsoon. Naga worship is common among the Hindus all over India. Naga Deva is a symbol of fertility and life.
There are many of ritualistic performances in this district and Kerala. The all night ritual like 'Naagamandala' is a very costly affair and hence rarely held. In other rituals like 'Aashleshabali' are much more cost effective. On the day of 'Ashlesha' star the ritual is observed in the Naga Deva Temples. This ritual is observed mostly by the Brahmins.
'Naagamandala' is performed by two groups of performers; the 'paatri' (a Brahmin) who gets possessed after inhaling the areca flowers becomes the Naga Deva. The second group of propitiating is 'Naagakannika'. The 'Naagakannika', a female Naga, which is actually a male disguised in female dress or visual costume. This character is identified as 'ardhanaari' or 'Naagakannika' who dances and sings around an elaborate Naga design Nagamandala drawn with natural colors on the sacred ground. The 'vaidya' performing group has a special hour-glass shaped 'Dakke' an auspicious instrument without which a ritual does not take place. The drawings in five different colors on the sacred ground are drawn by only the 'vaidya' community group. The five colors are white (white mud), red (mix of lime powder and turmeric powder), green ('jangama soppu' green leaves powder), yellow (turmeric powder) and black (roasted and powdered paddy husk) used in the Nagamandala drawings.
The combination of these five colors is called as 'panchavarnahudi' in the local dialect. The ritual of 'Naagamandala' is observed more in the Northern region of the South Canara i.e., Udupi, Moodabidri, Brahmavar, Kundapura, Baindur and other places.
The 'Naga Deva’ takes place around this 'mandala' drawings. The all night dance and song propitiation creates an awe inspiring experience. Brahmins utter the mantras in sanskrit and the other proceedings take place in Kannada.