Karaga means carrying kumb or kalasa on the head without touching in hand. The Karaga itself is a tall floral pyramid that is balanced on the carriers head.
The festival is celebrated by thigala community of southern Karnataka. People of this community believe that their community diety Draupadi's power emerges during the Karaga festival. And one of the men in their group is selected as Karaga carrier. They believe carrier as symbolic of Draupadi.
As the Mahabharata war ended and the Kauravas are destroyed, the Pandavas and their wife Draupadi were on the way to heaven. During the journey Draupadi lagged behind, the Pandavas and fell down in unconscious. When she woke up, she found a demon called "Timarasura", troubling her.
To rescue herself she revealed the Vishwarupa (holy form). As a means to destroy Timarasura, she created warriors from different parts of her body called Veerakumars. These warriors fought against demon along with her, and won the war.
After the war mother Draupadi wanted to return to heaven in her divine form. Seeing this Lord Krishna, came down to warriors that she had created and told them that their Mother is leaving them and return to heaven. So these men's started hitting themselves with sword on their chest and praying to Mother Draupadi. They offer to sacrifice themselves in order to obtain her grace. By seeing this Draupadi promised this Veerakumars that she would come to earth every year in the form of Karaga and be among them for three days.
The Festival of Karaga
Festival that is celebrated with great pleasure and pomp in Bangalore. This is a celebrated for nine days.
Karaga begins with flag raising ceremony on the first day called 'Dhwajarohana'. Then comes elaborate rituals associated with Karaga. Daily morning and evening pooja is performed in Dharmarayaswamy temple.
On the sixth day woman's of Thigala community pray to God and perform arathi for Goddess Draupadi.
The seventh day of the festival is called "Hasi Karaga". On this day Goddess Draupadi emerges from the water, carrying a Kalasha(Pot). The Karaga carrier symbolizes Draupadi and carries Kalasa to temple from Shakthipeeta.
Pongal is prepared by the woman's and offered to Goddess on the eighth day.
The ninth full moon day Karaga is held. The marriage of the Goddess is performed and utsav murthis are taken procession. The Karaga procession starts from the Dharmarayaswamy temple around midnight and wends its way through the indefinitely great number of pathways till morning and returns to temple in the morning.