As the Vishwakarmis addressed their issues to the rulers of the time, they turned to the Shri Kalikamba Vinayaka Temple in Mangalore for spiritual solace and community bonding. This temple and its Gurumutt, located in the Car Street area, are believed to be a thousand years old. According to oral tradition, a sculptor belonging to the Vishwa Brahmin community, Bhujangacharya, established the temple by installing the image of Devi. Every five years, an assembly of Vishwakarmis representing eight towns from the Dakshin Kannada/Udupi districts and ten rulers from Mangalore select the administrators (Mokteshwar) of the temple.
Although the Vishwa Brahmins are an honest, hard-working and law-abiding community, their economic status has gradually declined over the years. Despite this, they supported the upkeep of the Kalikamba Vinayaka Temple through their modest contributions. There have been instances of maintaining daily rituals and annual celebrations even through borrowings. Besides Mangalore City, the eight cities under the jurisdiction of the temple are Moodbidri, Bantwal, Nandavara, Ullal, Manjeshwar, Panambur, Haleyangady and Mulki. The villages have their own artisan communities led by Mokteshwars. There are about 260 Mokteshwars from the village community who render service to the temple. The geographic jurisdiction of the temple extends to Hejmadi in the north, Charmadi in the east, Manjeshwar in the south, and the Arabian Sea in the west.
It is interesting to go back to 1228 years and recall the description of the community by John Stuart in his District Manual on South Canara, published in 1894. According to him, “The artisans of Canara are generally of Canarian rather than Tulu origin, because they speak Canarian and follow the ordinary rule of inheritance, but this is no doubt due in part to the fact that they are not propertied classes. They wear a sacred thread like the Brahmins, but their claims are believed to be due to increasing prosperity in relatively recent times.” The following, according to Stuart, are the main castes of this group. Akkasale and Sonar (goldsmiths), Kammara (blacksmiths), Kanchugara (brewers), Kalkatta (masons), Cheptagar, Colayari, Charodi, Gudigar and Muvvari (all carpenters).
The Akkasales are goldsmiths of Tulou origin, but many of them also work in brass, iron and wood. In their customs and manners they closely resemble the Shivalli Brahmins. Sonar or Sonagara, is another class of goldsmithing. They speak Konkani and are believed to be from Goa. The Chaptegaras are carpenters who also speak Konkani and are believed to be from the Konkan region. The Gudigaras are a Canarian caste of wood carvers and painters. The Kanchugaras are also a Canarian brass caste. They are Hindus of the Vaishnava sect and pay special reverence to Lord Venkatramana of Tirupati.
Do you see these characteristics in today’s craftsmen? Or, has the scene changed over the past 127 years?
To you !