With the Karnataka Assembly elections only a few weeks away, political parties did not miss the opportunity to catch the attention of voters during the Sri Rama Navami festival on Thursday.
In keeping with Karnataka’s age-old tradition of celebrating Sri Rama Navami by distributing ‘Paanaka’ or ‘Sharbat’ and 'Kosambari' at public places, various socio-religious groups set up their ‘Prasad’ (offerings to God) distribution pandals in many parts of the city.
‘Paanaka’ are generally made of cantaloupe, Bael or lemonade since they -- as also Kosambari (a salad generally made of drenched green gram, grated coconut, and chilli, seasoned with mustard seeds and coriander) -- have a cooling effect on the body to beat the heat during summer.
What was interesting this time was the 'Prasad' counters put up by political parties. Since the Model Code of Conduct is in force, they chose not to put up their party flags but dropped subtle hints for the people. It was the flags and festoons that made the distinction for people to identify the political party behind these Pandals.
In Bengaluru, many such ‘Prasad’ distribution counters popped up in close proximity. In Thurahalli, there was a pandal dotted with saffron flags and yellow marigold flowers and those distributing them sported saffron scarves around their neck. Hardly 50 metres away, there was another counter with ‘Torana’ made of ‘green’ mango leaves. People said they were set up by the BJP and Congress, respectively.
Volunteers of the two pandals were competing with each other to draw every passer-by. They did not even let go of a school bus till 'Paanaka' was served to the driver and school children seated inside.
Similar pandals were seen in JP Nagar, Madivala, Chikpet, Chamarajpet, JC Road, and Banashankari, among others. Assembly elections will take place in Karnataka on May 10.