Nagamandala of Karnataka is a variant of serpent worship rituals prevalent among Hindus in all parts of India. This night-long elaborate ritual is performed in the regions of Southern Karnataka and involves ritualistic appeasement of the serpent. The serpent of Karnataka’s Nagamandala celebration is usually considered to be the symbol of fertility and an embodiment of life-force.
Performance—Nagamandala in Karnataka is usually performed by male dancers called Vaidyas. In the time of the ritual they dress themselves up as nagakannikas or female serpents and dance around an elaborate design painted on sacred ground which represents the serpent spirit and is the object of their worship. The design of the Nagamandala is in itself an artistic feat. It is an elaborate pattern drawn in natural colors. A Brahmin resides at the center of the activities and gets possessed somewhere in the middle of the ritual signifying the presence of the serpent spirit among the devotees. Traditional and symbolic patterns hold the serpent image at the very center.