Naga stones of Nagashettyhalli.
When you visit a temple or stand next to a shrine in urban India, it sometimes helps to imagine what the place looked like a few decades or centuries back. That would mean erasing the buildings and roads, bringing back to life the green, rolling surface of the land and water bodies that have been drained or coloured by our civilization secretions.
These are the serpent stones of an agricultural village called Nagashettyhalli gobbled up by the expanding city of Bengaluru. They are found under Ashwattha or Peepal trees in the village and next to fields and farms.
These serpent stones are under a tree was struck by lightning a few years back and the stump is sprouting leaves once again. This tree was surrounded by farms growing potatoes and greens on one side and humble village homes on the other side.
Over the last three decades, the farms got divided into plots for suburban homes. The graves (the better off landowners in this village preferred to be buried in their own farms) have homes above them. The wells are covered and bore wells have dug deeper.
There are no snakes to protect the farms that have disappeared and the rodents run about wild like people on their bikes and in their cars.
Before there was Wikipedia there was Kamat's potpourri for answers in English for questions about little known things in Karnataka (and India). You can check it out at Kamat.com (Trivia lovers, and desktop travellers will love the resource).
According to the grand old lady at Kamat, the serpent stones are closely associated with fertility and not just the for crops. Many couples and families say thanks for having a child by installing these serpent stones and giving their children names like Nagraj for boys and Nagaratha for girls. This tree in Dollar's Colony which was next to the paddy fields fed by the Nagashettyhalli lake had several serpent stones installed under it.
These worshipped stones in the middle of the city, surrounded by upmarket housing and a transformed village suggests that some people still prefer the shrines of an agricultural past to the luck and fortune based pop urban gods, pilgrimage circuit and babas that are popular today.
|They look like snakes at my feet.|