HISTORY OF HARIHAR SHRINE
History has it from time immemorial that according to the tradition a Brahmin, while taking bath, accidentally fell into the swelling river Tungabhadra on whose banks Harihar in now situated.
Being on the verge of drawing and in great fear of death, he saw the floating statue of Our Lady of Health and caught hold of it, and that eventually saved his life. Thereafter on reaching home, his wife and children, on touching the statue of Our Lady of Health, were miraculously and providentially healed of their diseases-tuberculosis and paralysis respectively.
From than onwards he dedicated himself completely to the service of Our Lady and his house to the glory of the Mother. Soon after his death, he was laid to rest in a place where his house existed. Later on that same house was converted into a church, which is situated on the banks of the River Tungabhadra. This Shrine has been frequented by the people of Karnataka, irrespective of caste, language and religion. No doubt, it can surely be called the “Vailankanni of Karnataka”
Harihar is a town situated in Davangere district of Karnataka. earstwhile Mysore Kings, followed by the British. Harihar though belonging to Mysore state, was part of Chitradurga Division. Later on in 1875 A. D. the British Government brought together a few adjacent villages under Hariher and formed it a taluk centre with the establishment of a taluk office. At present Harihar taluk has around 86 villages.
Then in 1833 Fr. Bigot is reported to have built a prayer hall in Harihar. What has been documented about him is as follows:
BIGOT BEAUCLAIR - Born on July 21, 1804, he joined the MEP Society 6 August, 1829. He left for Pondichery on August 16, 1830 when still a Deacon only. He was ordained a priest at Pondichery on 28 May, 1831. In 1833, he was given charge of Srirangapatna. He built several chapels including Harihar and Anekal. He repaired the churches of Settihalli and built a presbytery at Hosur. Hr built a church at Mysore. In 1845, he built at Shoolay in Bangalore what was destined to be a seminary but ultimately became a school for girls. He prepared a blueprint for a seminary in Bangalore. In 1851, 1852 he constructed St. Joseph’s Church when he was given charge of the parish of saint Mary at Blackpalli. He founded there in 1853 or 1854 an orphanage for boys. He died in Bangalore on July 15, 1858.
HISTORICAL ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE HOLY SHRINE
Fr. Anthony Simo in his book , “History of the Archdiocese of Bangalore” on page 38 illustrates as follows: In September 1839, Fr. Bigot Beauclair paid a visit to Harihar where he witnessed the pilgrimage of people to that place where a statue of the Blessed Virgin was much in veneration. There he heard the legend of the origin of that statue and what caused people to have such a great devotion to that image.
Afterwards in1888 another priest, Fr. Francois Jarrige, a French, having visited Harihar, recorded the events of the good works done by Mother Mary in his letter. Fr. A. M. Gabrier has recorded all these illustrations in his book titled “History of the Mysore Missions”.
FRANCOIS JARRIGE- was born on September 8, 1796. He joined the MEP Society on 23 February, 1818 and ordained a priest on December 18, 1819. He left for Pondichery on December 30, 1819. From1826 till 1830, he administered the Mysore Mission and then was transferred back to Pondichery.
FAME OF THE MOTHER MARY OF HARIHAR
By now the fame of Harihar Shrine had spread far and wide. In Mysore Region, for the wonderful spiritual service done by no great a missionery personality is Most Rev. Bp. Stephen Louis Sharborne known as the Prince of the Mysore Mission who made pastoral visits in his vast territory. In November 1871, Blessed Sharborne from his headquarters Bangalore made a pastoral visit to the far off place i.e. Nagar earlier known as Bidanur. On his way back, he visited Chitradurga where he blessed a new church on 18 November, 1871.
From there he proceeded towards Harihar where he stayed for 3 days. From this, what is clear is that though there were no proper facilities in this tiny town , this great Archbishop of the versatile Christian Mission stayed for the sheer reason of his great love he had for the Mother Mary.
Fr. Dayananda Prabhu in his book, “Mysore Sansthanada Kraisthara Ethihasa” in page 166 has vividly paraphrased about Blessed Sharborne. GROWTH OF HARIHAR AS A RELIGIOUS CENTRE Harihar being a small town had no dearth for devotion to Mother Mary though there was neither magnificent church nor a resident priest to cater to the spiritual needs of the people. By that time the fame of Harihar had reached its zenith. A small chapel in the original place existed then. There were Christians in good numbers. But their spiritual care came under the jurisdiction of the parish of Sacred Heart, Shimoga. In the beginning, priests used to come for Mass. There are records to prove that the first baptism took place in Harihar on 27 July, 1847 and the first marriage ceremony of the parishioners of Shimoga took place at Harihar in the small chapel on 4 August, 1847.
These are found in the Baptism and Marriage records preserved in the Cathedral office, Shimoga. From 1870, the French missionery, Fr. Kleiner from Shimoga had to look after this parish. It is recorded that he used to offer Mass for the people of Harihar. The important celebrations were conducted at this shrine only to highlight its importance.
Rev. Fr. K. A. Mathew , Karnatakada Dharmasabhe, p. no.137
In the beginning of 1847 itself, the celebration of devotion to Harihar Mathe and dedication to her was much in vogue as scores of people would throng to this Shrine in this small town. People used to pray fervently. Gradually September 8 was chosen to celebrate her Annual Feast that being her Nativity. This has been going on without any interruption since then. In the initial ceremonies it was the practice that the image that saved the life of the Brahmin was taken in procession in prominent streets of the town.
Beginning of the chariot decorated with Sevanthige flowers
The devotees from Arasikere who came annually for the Feast expressed their willingness to prepare a new chariot. Not willing to prepare an artificial chariot, they prepared a unique one, not to be found elsewhere, with Sevanthige flowers and offered it to the Mother. The chariot had its own uniqueness that none paralleled. Till now the chariot decorated with Sevanthige flowers is considered as the official and authentic one for the Mother Mary. Every year, for the annual feast such a chariot with the Statue in it is taken in procession.
Shrine of Our Lady of Health
P.B.No: 19, Church Road
Harihar - 577 601
Phone: 08192 - 242269
Rev. Fr. Anthony Peter