The Jabri festival is held once in every 12 years in the Mahothobhara Mahalingeshwara Temple in Kerala border village Nettanige of Kasaragod. The next festival is all set to go on May 2, 2017. The actual Jabri festival is held in the Cave in the Banthaje Forset in the Belur Panchayath in the Kerala Karnataka border.
You can also reach the temple through Kanhangad, Cherkala, Mullaria, and from Mulleria you can reach Nettanige through Bellur Kinnigar road. You can also reach the temple from Karnataka through Sullyapadhav.
Mahothobhara Mahalingeshwara Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Also the sub diety Gulikan is adjacent to it. To the north of the temple is a Swayambhoo Cave. Swayambhoo means occurred by itself and not man-made.
The story of the temple is related to this Cave. You need to walk for about 6 hours through the forest to reach the cave. The Pooja inside the cave is only performed during the Jabri festival day. During the festival days a walkway is made to the cave through the forest. About 50, 000 people arrive for the festival. Most people comes from Karnataka.
In other days you can only reach the cave through Jeep, and you need to be an expert driver in order to drive to the cave. You need to travel through the border road for about half an hour to reach the Jabri Cave. One side of the road is Kerala Forest and the other side is Karnataka Forest.
The cave is situated in the place locally known as Chendathaduka and it also known as jabrithaduka because of the Jabri cave. The cave door is small and only one can enter at a time. But all are not permitted to enter the Cave.
During the festival day people known as ‘Kappadanmar’ enters the Cave first.
The Kappadans are selected traditionally from the Mogeru community. Anandan and Babu have been selected for this year’s festival. The kappadans should be married and hence one of the Kapadans marriage was conducted with Geetha from Karnataks. Also Before they enter the fast they are also made to undergo ceremonial death rites.
These people takes prepare for entering the cave through strict rituals fasting diet lasting for 48 days without any connection with the outside world on an isolated spot. During these 48 day they only eat temple food and the food is handed over to them without any eye contact and they sleep on bare green palm leaves.
On May 2 they will emerge from their isolation to lead the large party of priests and believers to the cave in the Banthaje forest. Holding a flaming red torch and wearing fresh white clothes they clear the forest for the others to walk on scaling the steep hill.
Following the ‘Kappadanmar’ Priests and Tanthris enter the cave and perform the Pooja inside the Cave for about 1 and a half hour. The cave mouth will be closed till the Pooja is over.
After the Pooja they come out with the soil inside the cave and this soil is given as ‘prasada’ to devotees and people store it in their home.
The people who enter the Cave will not tell anybody what they see inside the cave as the ceremonies and sights inside the cave must be kept secret from the outside world.