Maha Ganapathi Mahammaya Temple

The Shirali Maha Ganapathi Mahammaya Temple is the Kuladevata Temple (family temple) to the Prabhus, Joishys, Bhats, Kamaths, Puraniks, Mallyas, Kudvas, Nayaks of the Gowda Saraswat community. The temple is located at Shirali in North Kanara (Uttar Kannada) district of Karnataka state. It is a five minute drive from Bhatkal.

These families are referred to as the Kulavis of the temple. The temple was established by devotees who migrated from Goa about 400–500 years ago. The presiding deities are Shri Mahaganapati (Vinayaka) and Shri Mahamaya (Shantadurga).

The deities were originally in Goa in the area called Golti and Naveli. On account of the hostile religious policies pursued by the Portuguese rulers around 1560, the devotees left Goa. Unable to take with them the idols, they invoked the ‘saanidhya’ or the presence of the deities in the silver trunk of Lord Ganesha and the mask of goddess Mahamaya. When they reached Bhatkal they were unable to construct a temple immediately and kept these two symbols in a shop belonging to a devotee. Later on they constructed a temple in Shirali, a few miles north of Bhatkal, where it stands to this day. The deities are also called Pete Vinayaka and Shantadurga as they are located in a ‘pete’, which means a town in Kannada. The temple has a unique darshan seva called, “mali”.

Today the temple conducts various pujas including Shasraganayaga, Rathotsav, Ganahoma and Sahasrachandikahavana. The Rathotsav or the Car Festival is celebrated by the temple on Margashira Shudda Navami (in November or December.)

Its is estimated that currently the Shirali Maha Ganapathi and Mahammaya temple has 125 Kulavis, with a total of 600 persons. Most Kulavis visit the temple annually, and many Kulavis living abroad visit the temple every time they visit India.

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