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Devasthana Jevana

Devasthana Jevana

Devasthana Jevana

Mangalore Today / January 23, 2010

Article by: Deepa Kini, Mountain View, CA USA

Photos: Manju Neereshwallya

Has this ever happened to you??

You are sitting in the company cafeteria on a Tuesday afternoon aimlessly rolling your fork in a bowl of sorry mashed potatoes and all of a sudden you get a craving. You hanker for a paan of ‘Devasthana  Jevana’. You picture yourself sitting in front of a keli paan with chane ghashi, magge saasama, vegetable pickle and hot devasthana saaru.

Of course, you have!!!

For as long as I can remember I have eaten at various temples in and around Mangalore. Not because I am too cheap to buy my own lunch but because there is an inimitable taste in devasthana jevan’s that can never be duplicated at home. “Bhuri randapa kednai laika jatta,” my mother offers explanation. There is a  unique sense of togetherness when you sit with a whole bunch of people you have probably never seen in your life and eat the same food. Devasthana jevans are always held during important celebrations and in temples all over Dakshina Kannada.


Jovan 1


Jovan 2

The aim is to have an aarti function at an auspicious time and then follow it by a good, filling lunch. But since there are many people waiting to eat, there is fierce competition. You will find most people “booking” eating space by spreading out angsos and papers way before the aarti. When the aarti is over, people scramble to the dining area and sit on the floor. In most cases this is accompanied by people saying “Chike tekkade vatta ve” and finally everyone manages to find a spot.

When most people are seated, volunteers bring over keli paan. This has been my experience, that most keli paan bearers are tall men with a stern look on their face and I normally get a paan that is torn all over. As a result, when I call them to exchange my paan they sometimes pretend not to have heard me. Well, somebody’s got to eat on that paan. Might as well be me. When everybody has a paan, the main dishes are served. Nobody is supposed to eat at this point. When all the main dishes are served, rice is served and then a ghanta is sounded summoning people to start eating. At this point saaru is served and everybody attacks their food. Half way through the meal daali toi is served.

What is amazing is every dish is served twice so that everyone can eat to their heart’s content. If you don’t need a second helping you refuse by moving your hand horizontally across your leaf. Since everyone is busy eating you are not expected to voice a verbal acknowledgement. When most people have finished eating the main course, goddi is served. You will hear people devouring goddi with a slight slurping sound which shows how much they appreciate it. This process in amchigele is called burkuche and is not considered to be rude. In some temples laddoos are handed out. Now some people especially kids who are not used to sitting in one place for more than five minutes stand up in their spots and most have cramps in their feet and walk funny. A second ghanta is sounded and lunch is “officially” over. Everyone walks over to taps to wash their hands, the volunteers remove all the paans and the place is cleaned up.


Jovan 3


Jovan 4


Jovan 5

Jovan 6


Jovan 7


Jovan 7

Of course, some devasthana jevan’s are not this uneventful. I have seen situations when eager volunteers served chane ghashi on a young lady’s head. But all was taken in the spirit of the occasion and other than a “samma polocheka jaina ve” everything was handled very well. If this had occurred here in the US, we would probably have lawyers sitting outside the temple doors, handing out their cards and telling people “Let me know if someone drops anything on you. We will sue the mundu’s off these bhatta’s”. All in all, devasthana jevan’s are an integral part of our Konkani culture. Where else can you see the rich and the poor eating the same food, at the same time and on the same floor? If anything, these lunches teach us humility and that everyone is the same in the eyes of the almighty. Can you imagine another place on earth where not only do you get free food but also served by people you don’t need to tip? Only in South Kanara. If you have never been to a temple in South Kanara for lunch, I hope this article has persuaded you to do so. If you have eaten at temples before, I hope I have been successsful in bringing back memories.

Deepa Kini, Mountain View, CA USA. Send your comments to

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Comments on this Article
Shobha Maller, Mangalore/Bangalore Tue, January-31-2012, 5:30
Dear , If you visit a GSB, he/she will always ask you to share his/her meals. That\’s our culture.
Aditya, Mumbai Thu, July-22-2010, 5:57
I love
Jai Nagarkatti, St Louis, Missouri, USA Thu, March-11-2010, 6:16
Great article,brings back memories and ofcourse the mouth waters. With so many regional food places opeining up in the USA, does anyone know of an Indian restaurant in the USA which specilizes in Konkani Amchgeli food.
rumakumar, Allahabad/hyderabad Thu, March-11-2010, 8:05
It was g8 to read but unfortunately Ican not squat on the floor !! So cannot think of the mouthwatering dishes.
Laxmi Bhandary, Tellicherry Mon, March-1-2010, 3:40
Wonderful Article..!!!!!! :)...You made me have a Devasthana Jevan in my office through ur article :)
Bhagyalakshmi Kamath Mulky, Karkala Fri, February-12-2010, 12:13
ha ha..!!haasunhaasun poor jaale!super barela..laaik explanatio deevnu..aamchigel naantill janaaka laaik explanation deevnu artu karetahsa...!:)
Vikram.Rao, Banagalore Wed, February-3-2010, 9:30
This article is SIMPLY AWESOME... i had this craving when i was in usa for an year and that craving for "Devesthana Javan" was so immense, i immeditely called my mother in india and asked her when would there be the next big Devesthana Javan".... after i returned to india , i took leave from office just to eat at one of the devasthana in brahmavar :)
Ajay R Kamath, Mangalore Mon, February-1-2010, 11:16
Very nicely written.... and Guru Baliga’s comment is SO true!!
radha pai, parsons kansas Mon, February-1-2010, 1:52
your article brought a gut wrenching feeling of homesickness and a longing for india
mohan, usa Sun, January-31-2010, 8:55
thank you verymuch for the wonderful e mail iwas sent by another konkani family. the person who sent me said the article will pruduce enogh saliva when yo mentioned thearicles served and it did . the picture is also highclass. thanks for the same
sulekha shenoy, kannur kerala Sun, January-31-2010, 9:57
thank u deepa for writing such a beautiful article on devasthana jevan.there islot more in this processesgav jevan .gavjevanis an asset to people of mangalore and othere placeswhich peoplein citieswould defenitely miss it is thebest source for the mingling of people of all generationsand statua without any barrier beteen them it gives oppurtunity for our daughters and sons out side places to visit their gav (hometown)and enjoy spirit of gav festival with best of spirit in my gav we have gav javan for9daysin navarathri . each day we have gsv jevan with many ladoos ..which fills up our kardo
Prakash Nayak, United Kingdom Sun, January-31-2010, 12:49
This is a great memory jogger.At various times I had the good fortune of enjoying the Devasthana Jevana in Panemangalore,Bantwal,Mogarnad,Sri Venkatramana Temple,Mangalore,Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Temple Mulki,Sri Mahalasa Temple Goa and Sri Venkateshvara temple at Tirupati.To some extent we try to emulate this at our Gowda Saraswath Sabha Deepavali function in the UK.We often serve South Indian menu.I wish I could get an Amchigele caterer soon.Long live our tradition Dr Prakash Nayak, Secretary G S Sabha U K.
Vasudeva Kamath, Mangalore/ United Kingdom Sat, January-30-2010, 2:29
I as one of the thousands and thousands of Dorkes’ enjoyed Thera jevan when I lived in Mangalore, volunteered im Mammayi Devasthana saal. When i attended the theru after 25yrs, I saw the same enthusiasm, all the sarees, jewellaries ,youth eyeing girls and most of all the tasty Jevan eating by sitting on ground. Deep’s article says it all Wah! Bhuri Jevan. You kept us all Dorke’s together Vasu
Ravindra Shenoy kotacherry, mangalore/chennai Sat, January-30-2010, 8:56
you have kindled our memories of the sweet good old days of excellent tera javan. For the past 40 years I am away from Mangalore living in chennai. Even though it is not that far off to go and participate and also I visit mangalore twice a year or so, time constrain makes it impossible to make it on dot. Any way I enjoyed your article as mush I enjoyed the javana in my younger should also appreciate the excellent organizing capacity of distribution of food same time to all the persons sitting at different places of venkatramana temple and Mahamaya temple and other surroundings.
nirmala anant kini., KARKALA/GOA Fri, January-29-2010, 11:11
really missing my karkala devasthana jevana.mouth and the sound of dalithoi burkuche.
maya shenoy, Karkala Bangalore Thu, January-28-2010, 3:19
Thanks Deepa! Ur article brought back vivid memories of Devasthana Jevana! I read it with my daughter and we both laughed a lot! I try never to miss Karkala Theru! I hope you make it to India during Karkala Theru and enjoy the entire experience with ur loved once this year! May lord Venkataramana bless u with more Thera Jevana opportunities in the years to come.
Giri Kamath, Mangalore Wed, January-27-2010, 11:11
But thistime there was a young volunteer following up with an ’exchange offer’ for pindiley paan.Typical of amchigeleles..change with the changing times.
Gautam Shenoy, Mangalore (Currently Mumbai) Wed, January-27-2010, 5:45
Indeed. Nowhere else have I heard or observed such unity on such a large scale. Not only that but it gives us a sense of family togetherness. Even if it is for 2 days, it certainly is amazing let alone great.;) Theru Roxx
Vaman Pai Harekal, MANJESHWAR/Bangalore Tue, January-26-2010, 6:14
Dear Deepa, Our house was almost behind Sri Venkatramana Temple in Mangalore (on Sri Vitobha Temple Road.) Decades back,myself and my relatives and friends including my close relatives in MANJESHWAR , used to participate in the Car Festival on all the FIVE DAYS. Now it is only a sweet memory to be cherished. Superb Article. It is really a miracle that this great tradition of TERA JEVANA is still being carried on by the new Generation.Sahana vavatu, SAHANOU BHUNAKTU, says the Upanishad.. .. Even in Manjeshwar during the Shahsti AND other days we have this great tradition!!..
Soumya Prabhu, Mangalore Tue, January-26-2010, 10:23
waah superb reminded m of those days whn i did attend the theru for almost 20yrs til i got married nshifted 2 bangalore...i wont forget those javan whch i usually had on mahamay devasthan sali which ws specially bookd for us ..n thn sitting on my mamama’s darvato after hand wash 2 view the people with my bundle of cousins...thse were the best days of my life :)...thanks for the beautiful pics also...
Shwetha Prabhu, Karkala/ Mangalore Tue, January-26-2010, 5:28
Beautiful Article!!!
Nagendra Shenoy, Mangalore/Bangalore Tue, January-26-2010, 2:10
Nice write up Deepa Kini MAAYI (Being a volunteer myself I have all right to call a lady as MAAYI. Ha ha ha!!!) I can understand the anxiety some hardcore GSBs go through when they are sitting in Mumbai or Bangalore or outside India while their friends and relatives enjoy the Teru at their respective places. I am sure you too are writing it out of the regret of missing it (Guess you couldn’t attend the Teru this time. Right?) We GSBs (and Saraswaths) are an intellectual lot and may the Holy Lord grant his his choicest of the blessings on us.
V Kamath, Kochi Tue, January-26-2010, 12:54 When a Malayali marries into a Konkani family, it’s not just the dhalitoi that comes to boil, confesses Krishna Warrier
Ganesh, Mangalore Tue, January-26-2010, 12:10
Deepa small things I would like to add. Your expereince of volunteers not hearing to change your kelipaan, is exceptional, otherwsie they serve with love and affection. On the rathotsava day nearly 30000 people have food and serving such big number is not a joke.One more thing, the voluneers who work here do it as their annual seva. Some of them are doctors, leading CA, advocate, General Managers in Bank , but these 5 days they forget their status and work like ordinary person even sweeping. This is something one has to expereince in DK..attend any car fest and see how it works.
Radha, Mumbai Mon, January-25-2010, 11:03
More of these.!! Oh!That was a wonderful moonlight jevan on the Prathishta Punnav at Mulki Venkatramana Deval years ago!!Their methods of communication were most intriguing I wonder if it is reprated anywhere else? "Their" implies the volunteer server’s1
Guru Baliga, Bantwal/Mangalore Mon, January-25-2010, 9:45
There is lot more in this whole process of Jevan. An entire chapter can be written about how Vadap is organised. Young men wearing Safron Mundus or Pattethodaps running through the lanes shouting "Whaaaat" thinking of giving a heroic impression on the girls they are vying for, who is happened to be sitting in the lane they run. Good article.
Priya Nayak Kamath, Udupi/Dubai Mon, January-25-2010, 9:40
Deepa ji, amazing article
Ramadas P Shenoy, Mangalore/Bangalore Mon, January-25-2010, 7:26
Chintana. It is a true portrait of devasthan jevana with a lot of humour. My wife, daughter and grand daughter had a great time in reading the text as well as the pictures. Seventy and odd years back I had experienced the same and always made it a point to have jevan during tera utsovu. For two years I was also a volunteer server who had to wear patte todopu preferably coloured in shades of red. I cannot recall any of us having spilled gassi or dali toi on the diners. That must have been a later development. Deepa Kini has brought back memmory of old days so vividly. Thanks once again..
Ganesh Prabhu, hassan Mon, January-25-2010, 1:36
Very good photos very nice article
M. P. PAI (76), Karkala, now settled in Bangalore Sun, January-24-2010, 10:10
I had enjoyed ’Devasthana Jevana’ in Venkramana Temple in Karkala till went to Bombay in 1952. I had 4 occasions to partake in Mangalore Teru Jevana (last one was in 2004) and 3 or 4 times in Konchadi Mahalasa Temple. In Bangalore Kashimutt, we enjoy jevena at least once a month and invariably last Sunday of every month when they arrange for ’Sarvajanika’ Sathyanarayana. They provide Table and Chairs for seniors like us who cannot sit on the floor. But jevana at Karkala Vanabhojana and of Kodiiyal Teru are unique in themselves. I have there my sister (82)
Dinesh Shenoy, Bantwal/New Delhi Sun, January-24-2010, 8:46
Great article. Kudos to Deepa whose article made me flooded with all those memories of food taken during Bantwal Teru and other events.
Ramachandra Kini, Gangolli/Bhatkal Sun, January-24-2010, 4:33
its a very beautiful article and thank u to remembering me the devastan jevan
Vinayak Kini, Bantwal Sun, January-24-2010, 1:43
Wa! wonderful jovana! What a discipline in earting!!!?
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