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There might be many communal clashes in the recent past that South Canara has witnessed. But, none of this has ever damaged the secular fabric of this region. Such is the relation among people of different religions. And there are many legends and stories here that testify this fact.  One such example is Sri Durga Parameshwari Temple, Bappanadu.

Located on the banks of Shambhavi River in Mulki near Mangalore, Sri Durga Parameshwari Temple is said to be built in the 13th Century AD. The deity is worshiped in the form of linga. This temple is an epitome of communal harmony. People from all caste and communities participate in the annual festivals and rituals. The Mogaveeras decorate the Ratha, the Koragas dance to the beat of their Dollu or Bheri (drums); the Brahmins perform worship and rituals according to the Vedas and Agamas. The Jains, Muslims, and Christians also render their services to this temple.

Legend(source): Shonitapura was ruled by a demon named Darigasura. He was an enemy of Lord Vishnu and other Devatas. The demon Darigasura worshipped Lord Brahma and procured a boon to defeat Lord Vishnu and the Devatas. He ultimately defeated the Devatas and Lord Vishnu and snatched Lord Vishnu’s ammunitions. Darigasura asked his wife to keep the ammunitions in the temple for safe keeping.

Meanwhile, Goddess DurgaParameshwari appeared in the form of seven women (Sapta Durgas) in front of Lord Vishnu and promised to kill the demon. The Sapta Durgas then went to Shonitpura. They were accompanied by a deity named Guliga. One of the Sapta Durgas, Bhagawati, disguised herself as an old woman and appeared before the demon requesting him to provide her a meal. The demon asked the old lady to go to his wife. He also informed her to let him know if she didn’t get a meal.

Bhagawati went to Darigasura’s wife and asked for the ammunitions instead. When his wife did not comply with Bhagawati’s requests, she went to Darigasura and wrongly informed him that his wife had denied her a meal. Hearing this, Darigasura ordered his wife to give Bhagawati what she had asked for. His wife gave away the ammunitions.

When the demon realised that he had been deceived by the Sapta Durgas he waged war against them. The deity Guliga was defeated. But after seven days, the seven goddesses defeated the demon and he ran away and took shelter in the underworld.

Goddess Bhagawati took the form of Bhadra Kali and began searching for Darigasura. When the demon came to worship Lord Shiva, Goddess Bhadra Kali killed him. The Sapta Durgas accompanied by Deity Guliga, then visited Lord Vishnu and asked him to create a sandalwood boat to carry them from Vaikuntha (heaven) to Bhoolaka (earth).

The boat came to Bhoolaka and crossed Kasaragod, Kumble, Uppala, Pattattur, Manjeshwara, Udyavara, Ullala and Kudroli along the southern coast of India. From these places, it came to Sasihithlu, located near Mulki. The seven goddesses decided to settle there after taking tender coconut from a low caste devotee. At the intersection of Rivers Nandini and Sambhavi at Mulki border, a symbolic form of the Devi known as Goddess DurgaParameshwari emerged.

A devout Muslim re-established this temple!

Due to severe floods the temple was believed to be submerged in the sea. Meanwhile, a Muslim Merchant from Kerala named Bappa was sailing in his boat for some trade business. His boat suddenly hit a stone and the surrounding water suddenly started getting red! Frightened Bappa Beary, recited namaz and slept in the boat there itself. And in his dream Goddess Durga has said to be appeared and asked him to build a temple for her.

The pious Bappa Beary narrated this incident to local Jain ruler Mulki Sawantha and sought his help to build the temple. The Bappa Beary himself donated most of his material wealth and a beautiful abode of Sri Durga Parameshwari was built. Bappa settled in Mulki and devoted his service to the Goddess and that place thereafter came to be known after his name Bappa as  “Bappanadu”.

Even today, an honorary ‘prasadam’ is given to a Muslim family after rituals, who are believed to be the descendants of Bappa Beary. The annual “Rathotsava” starts from their house. This legend is beautifully described in a Yakshagana play “Bappanadu Kshethra Mahatme”, which is quite popular for the iconic roles of Bappa Beary and Usman. The Muslim community in this area performs special prayers for marriages in the family and other rituals at the temple. The Christians in this area also have a special connection with the temple. Every Fridays, the community feeding is organized where people of all faiths get together for the prasadam meal.

At times, where people with vested interests are working overtime to create an atmosphere of mistrust among the communities, place like Bappanadu Temple leads us in a right path reiterating the fact that there is only one God and we call him in many names. Let us follow this example set by our elders, love and respect each other and make this place a beautiful place.

For details about the location of Bappanadu Temple. click here.

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