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Kateel Durga Parameshwari Temple

Getting there: Kateel is located about 5 kilometers from the Bajpe Bus stand. As such going to Bajpe, using the Kavoor- Marakada Route is the most convenient as the road is well maintained since it is also the access route to the Mangalore Airport. Further the winding roads amidst green hills and valleys make it a very pleasant and memorable experience. Once in Bajpe town, take the straight road leading north to go to kateel. There are service busses plying between Mangalore and Kateel at a frequency of about 10 busses an hour. Cost by Bus About Rs. 10-15/-

Situated on the banks of River Nandini, amidst beautiful surroundings, is the spiritual energy center of South Kanara district. Goddess Durga is the loving and caring mother of the people of South Kanara. Surrounded by lush green fields and beautiful hills, Kateel has become a famous pilgrimage and a tourist center over the years.

The legend behind this place of worship goes something like this. A severe drought hit this place and it had not rained for years. There was absolutely no vegetation and Even Brahmins were forced to eat meat and the people were on the verge of giving up their principles. The great Sage Jabaali disturbed by this situation used his 'Jnana Drishti', and found out that Arunasura the demon who escaped from death and fled when Goddess Durga killed Shambasura had made the people stop all yagas and yajnas as a revenge against the 'devas', thus leading to drought and scarcity for years.

Jabaali wanting to put an end to human sufferings decided to perform a yajna to please the devas and requested Devendra to permit him to take Kamadhenu for the yajna. Devendra asked Jabali to take Kamadhenu's daughter Nandini instead who refused the trip to the earth where evil was prominent. After a lot of arguments, Jabali, in his anger, cursed that she be born as a river on earth. Realizing the mistake, Nandini prayed for mercy. Relenting, Jabali advised her to pray to Goddess Durga to redeem her from the curse, Nandini appealed to Goddess Durga who appeared to her and informed her that though Nandini would be born as a river in fulfillment of the curse she, Durga, would be born as Nandini's daughter at the center of the river, and in the process, Nandini would attain purification. On Magha shudda Poornima, Nandini emerged as a river from Kanakagiri. Jabali performed his yajna. The devas were pleased and the earth was once again happy.

In the mean time Arunasura acquired a boon from Brahma that he would not suffer death from any two legged or four legged being or from any weapon. Brahma also powered him with Gayatri Mantra. After acquiring these powers, Arunasura defeated the devas and conquered heaven. The Devas prayed Goddess Durga for help.

One day Goddess appeared in Arunasura's garden as a beautiful woman. Seeing the lady, Arunasura approached her. The beautiful lady reminded him that she had killed Shambasura and from whom Arunasura had escaped death. Arunasura got angry and tries to kill the woman with sword. The Goddess suddenly turned into a stone. Arunasura slashed the stone with the sword, then a vast swarm of bees emerged from the stone and stung him.

The bees stung him repeatedly till he died. Devas led by Jabali performed abhisheka with tender coconut water and requested the Bramarambhika (Queen of the bees) to bless the world. Goddess Durga then appeared in her 'Soumya Roopa' in middle of the river, where present structure of the temple imparts its glory to the world. 'Kati' being the word which means 'center' (midway between the 'Kanakagiri' the place where the river was born, and the end, Pavanje, where the river joins the sea) and 'lla' means area. Thus the place is called 'Kati + lla' Kateel.

Devotees and followers from all over the world come to Kateel every year in huge numbers to participate in Simhamaasa, Navarathri and other holy occasions. Several educational institutions are also run through the temple's trust. The temple's trust also encourages several forms of arts. Notable among them is the yakshagana dashavathara mela, which was started as an offering to the goddess. During dussera, navaratri and other annual celebrations several sacred rituals like, Chandika Havana, thula bhaara, Veda parayana, hari kathas etc are performed.

Sunil Gonsalves.

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