‘Singadana’ is a word in Bhutaradhana, a traditional ritual of Tulu Nadu. Its significance is not known to all. As said in Post-250: From Olasari to Varasari, there is a subtle difference between ritual and religion. Religion is a system specific belief. Rites rituals are a set of symbolic actions. Religious rites are religion-centric. Traditional rituals are landed down from pre-societies, centred around hero-worship. So Bhutaradhana is a classless ritual. This explains why Jains, Brahmins and others espoused these reverential rites of Tulu Nadu.
‘Singadana’ rhymes with ‘Simhasana’. Simhasana, a Sanskrit word, means a throne of king, borne by Simhas (Lion forms). Singadana is a Dravidian word, meaning a sacred seat made of ‘singas’ (horns). This is comparable to Singapore, that is a country in the shape of horn. Splitting the word, we get Singa (horn) + da (‘s or of) + ana (raised seat), that is a Horn’s seat at a height. Dictionary meaning is “A decorated seat of three compartments or steps, set for keeping the idols, masks and other objects of worship in Divine Spirit Ritual (Kola/Nema)” (Tulu Lexicon P-2935). Thus, it is ‘a sacred seat’.
Narayan A. Bangera of Mitrapatna tells an interesting story surrounding this Singadana (q.v. Mogaveera-May 2012). The mighty Mahishasura usurps Devendra’s throne in Heaven. So all the Devas go in hiding but the women are left behind. Voluptuous Mahishasura tries to spoil the chastity of Sachi, the wife of Devendra. She prays ‘Shastara’, the formless entity of Shrimannarayana. Spurned by her and afraid of touching the meditating Sachi, he sends his sister Ajamukhi – a woman of giant body with face (mukha) resembling ‘Aja’ (Goat) with horns. Ajamukhi approaches Sachi as a beautiful lady and persuades Sachi to marry Mahishasura. Sachi soon realizes the true nature of Ajamukhi and appeals to the formless God to appear and save her. God appears in the form of ‘Dharma Shastara’ (Strict and Stern Disciplinarian, upholding Dharma, i.e. Justice). He kills Ajamukhi by breaking her two horns where her soft and secret point of life is located. He sits in a meditating posture on the structure made of horns (Singada Mantapa) with his back leaning against the body of Ajamukhi.
N.A. Bangera told this story to his son-in-law Yashodhara on the eve of annual Babbarya Nema at Mitrapatna (05.04.2012), while explaining the decorated 4-compartment structure ‘Singadana’. It may be noted that Babbarya – Bappa+Arya - (not Bobbarya) is Dharma Shastara of Tulu Nadu, equated to Dharma Shastara of Kerala, Babbarya is worshipped in every village by all and especially by Mogaveeras in the coastal belt.
(Courtesy: N.A. Bangera)
Hosabettu Vishwanath (Pune)