Thursday, September 7, 2017

Dakkebali and Nagamandala - The Attractive Serpent Dance

The Holy Serpent dance Nagamandala and Dakkebali of Dakshina Kannada in India, is a kind of  worship done to the cobras and certain rituals are performed in the night time, which are not to be seen in any other part of the world.

In India, 'Nagpanchami,' the festival meant for Serpent worship, is celebrated every year. The Serpent god's images carved on stones is smeared with Turmeric powder and bathed with milk, honey, tender coconut water and decorated with flowers. People pray to Serpent god for the sake of having children or for the future progress and prosperity.  There is also another kind of worship or celebration related to the same Serpent God. It is the Dakkebali celebration.

Dakkebali and Nagamandala are the rituals practiced in Tulunadu (region where most of the people speak Tulu language) of Karnataka, India. Dakshina Kannada district region boasts of a variety of folk dance forms which are not seen anywhere but only in this District of Karnataka. 
Nagapatri - Dakke bali

Nagaradhana - the Cobra worship :

This kind of Serpent or Cobra worship done by the people in South kanara District is also called as ‘Nagaradhana’. Serpent worship, believed to have originated in erstwhile South Kanara. In simple words 'Naga' means Cobra snake or serpent and 'Mandala' means the traditional design of a big serpent on the ground. It is very beautiful to see this colorful Mandala drawn on the ground. Dance is performed to the tunes of a traditional drum namely 'Dakke', a special instrument named 'Naga Swara'. On the other hand beautifully laid 'Mandala' and decratiove flowers add to the attraction. A unique worship where the participant dances artistically while he imbibes the serpent God into his body. Sometimes, they also hold fired wooden sticks and point it towards several directions and then skywards. Serpent worship although not very common in North India, it is a well-known worship in southern part of Karnataka, especially west coast region. The beauty of such an event is that it fulfills the religious faith giving an artistic look with 'Snake Dance' followed in coastal Karnataka & Kerala.

Naga Paatri and Nagakannika:

Performers are a group of people who are called Vaidyas. Possessing is also called 'Avesha' here. 'Nagamandala' is performed by two groups of performers; the 'Paatri' who gets possessed is the serpent God. The second group is known as 'Nagakannika'. The 'Nagakannika' is supposedly a female serpent. This character is identified as 'Ardhanaari' or 'Nagakannika' who dances and sings around the Mandala( Serpent drawing,drawn on the floor with natural colors).The ‘Paatri’ gets possessed with the serpent God by dancing to the tunes of 'Dakke' around the 'Mandala' holding Areca flowers in his hands. Sometimes, he rubs those Areca flowers all over his face. 

It is a different kind of experience to see this kind of a snake worship.Once the 'Paatri' is possessed the serpent God speaks through the 'Paatri'. People from all walks of life come to see this unique celebration. They seek solutions to their problems, where serpent God is believed to be answering their questions.This session of the event when questions are asked is typically called 'Prashne' which in Kannada language means question.

Dakkebali-Serpent Dance

Dakkebali at small town Padubidri:

Dakkebali is held in many places of South Kanara district. Padubidri Brahmasthana, one of the most sacred places in the South Kanara region, is very close to Mangalore city. Amidst a dense forest the deity 'Khadgeshwari' or so called goddess Vanadurga resides. Dakkebali held once in every two years is one of the major events held in this region. Dakke, a small instrument, made of bronze and leather, is first placed in the holy place and then played by the possessed pathri moving spherically. Devotees carry their offerings, called 'Pude' in Tulu language, from the famous Padubidri Maha Ganapathi temple to the Brahmasthana, in a long procession, spanning more than a Kilometer.
This kind of a bi-annual worship is held during the certain nights starting from usually 14th January to 2nd week of March, except during the year when ' Paryaya Utsava' at Udupi is held. People who come to view this kind of an event are served with tasty and traditional food. During 'Naga Mandala' if any of the attendees goes back to their places with some kind of dissatisfaction over the event, then the entire event is believed to be fruitless for those persons.This ritual always starts in the night and continues till dawn. At the end, the entire decoration around is pulled apart and everything on it, including tender coconut, flowers, fruits are offered to all the crowded devotees.

Conclusive part of Dakkebali and Nagamandala:

Dakkebali and Nagamandala celebration totally indicates a divine union of male and female Serpents. This is believed to make these snake gods happy and shower blessings to the people who conduct it.


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author:  from India
Thank you Ajant21 and Harishmam for the comments

This cobra dance is really interesting to see... i saw it a few years back.

Nice hub this! I liked to read about this extraordinary art of South India.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Shepherd and the powerful Goddess Adishakti

A village near Tumkur has become a sacred place due to the presence of Adishakthi temple. The story is very enchanting and mysterious. The temple is located in Bettanakurike Gollarahatti of Chikkathotlukere town which lies on the Tominakere road, Tumkur taluk, Tumkur district of Karnataka state. The local TV channel, TV9 had approached this place to know the facts related to this temple and the goddess.
Goddess Adishakthi of Bettanakurike Gollarahatti, Tumkur
It all started when a local shepherd by name Ramalingalippa went to the nearby hills to graze his goats and sheep. The hill has the name Devakannikeyara betta( Hill of godly women). As usual when the goats were grazing on the hills, the shepherd heard a woman’s voice from near him. But he could not see anyone. The voice told him that it was willing to go along with him to his village. Other shepherds standing near him could not hear the voice. The voice was loud and clear. This went on for many months. He got fed up of this and was very much scared to go to the hills. His family members suggested him to take the help of a sorcerer to end his problem. He went to the sorcerer who chanted some mantras and gave him a sacred thread. Ramalingalippa had to tie it around his right shoulder and go to the hills. Next day when he went to the hills he was shocked once again because the voice was heard as usual. The sacred thread was of no use for him. This time his house members told him leave the village for some time and stay in his relative’s house at Bangalore. But it was of no use. A dark figure of woman appeared in his dreams every day and reminded him saying that it was desperate to come along with him. He then returned to his village and continued going to the hills along with his sheep. 
After some days, villagers gave him an idea. They told him to accept whatever the voice told him.  It was the testing time for him. He replied to the voice and invited it to come to the village along with him. The voice told him that it would come but on the next new moon day night. He started to think over it. He was scared to go alone. He wanted to take someone with him that day.  The voice again told him that it was his wish and can bring any number of people when he comes on the new moon day. 
More than 90 members went to the hill on the night of the new moon. As they reached the foot of the hill and near a huge boulder, many of them fell asleep. They could not walk further. Only seven members including Ramalingalippa were left out. As they started climbing the hill two of them were left behind and just five of them could reach the top. 
As they got closer, suddenly they saw a bright light appearing at the top of the hill and coming downwards.  It came closer and entered a small hole and into the ground just in front of them. Ramalingalippa went ahead and put his hand into the small hole. He got a bowl shaped small clay lamp. It was an old oil lamp hidden in the mud and was made of clay. Ramalingappa was disappointed to see the clay lamp after all the hard work. The clay lamp was covered with black soil and was heavy. All the five reached the foot of the hill and showed the clay lamp to the people gathered there. Men started quarreling with each other. They thought it had some magical powers. At last elder people from the village who came to the spot took the lamp from the men. They advised people not to quarrel for it, but to find out what it is actually. They cleared the black soil covering the clay lamp. At that moment they were shocked. There was a golden idol of Goddess Adishakthi hidden in it. It was a small idol which weighed about one kilogram. All of them were worried about the idol then. They were afraid that the government would seize the golden idol. That night they decided to hide the idol and buried it in the mud in an empty land. But no one approached them as the news spread.
oil lamp made of clay

Next day morning everyone was shocked at the sight. The place where idol was hidden had a termite mound grown over it. Quickly they removed the idol from that place and took it for worshiping. They had made a temporary place to keep the idol for worship. Coconut leaf roof covered the top. Suddenly a few policemen came to the place. They were not able to say anything but stood very quiet before the goddess idol.  They just prayed to the goddess and left.  The Superintendent of Police who came there had something hidden in his mind. He wanted someone to stop his transfer which would take place the very next day. As he prayed to the goddess he pleaded her to fulfill his wish. And if the wish got fulfilled, then he would stand there and work as a volunteer.  He was overjoyed to know that his prayers were heard and wish was fulfilled. From that day onwards he became one of the voluntary members to work before the goddess. Villagers built a temple for the goddess Adishakthi.
As per Karnataka Treasure Trove Act, the idol had to be handed over to the government. But villagers were not in a position to give away the idol to the Karnataka government. The goddess had decided to stay in that village. Men from Deputy Commissioner’s office came to the temple one day. They had made up their mind to seize the golden idol.  A shocking incident occurred then and there, in front of them. A cobra snake appeared suddenly and raised its hood. They could not cross the deadly snake and reach the idol. Such was the power of the goddess. They had no option but to go back empty handed.
For those people who wish to visit this holy place, by air can reach Bangalore first, which is the nearest city. There are also trains to reach Bangalore from Mangalore, Hubli, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai etc.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

True story of Goddess Bhimamma in the form of Cobra seen by Villagers

A village in Chennapatna taluk has become an amazing place. Since few years, 3-4 houses in a locality had faced severe trouble just because of a Cobra snake. It was a snake that changed the lifestyle of many. Nobody knew that they were facing the problems because of the temple that was in ruins nearby. A huge Peepal tree started growing close to the temple in ruins. Whenever the branches and shoots started growing over the roof of a particular house, the house members were in trouble. At first they could see the cobra appearing near the TV, sofa or at any place within the house. They saw it once a week or once in 10 days. And later as days passed this incident started occurring everyday. The house members faced financial insecurity and great mental stress. If they cut off the branches of the tree it would result in death of their cattle within a week.

The snake started appearing all the time until they left their homes and fled for their lives. But when they built a house at a distant place they recovered from financial problems and life went on as usual. Two of them had even killed the cobra but it appeared again at the same place. Such was the power of the cobra. At last they left their homes by themselves whenever cobra entered their houses. The villagers came to know that it was Goddess Bhimamma in the form of a cobra snake. She had to appear in this form to remind people that they lived at the same place where temple existed at one time.

One of the women in the village had seen a cobra near the well when she went to fetch water for her house. She fell down unconscious and as she fell down she could see a woman with a bright face wearing vermillion on her forehead. At one time even an old man had seen a cobra that suddenly changed to a woman and later disappeared from sight. All these incidents made the villagers aware of the supreme power of Goddess Bhimamma.

After knowing that the Goddess had immense power people started worshiping at Bhimamma's temple and a new temple was built for the Goddess. The Cobra watched the work of the temple whenever it felt like having a look at it.

The Bhimamma Temple is located at B. V. Halli, Sattanur Road, Chennapatna taluk, Ramnagar district of Karnataka state.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cobra Village - Nagenahalli

Nagenahalli is a village near Santhebennur, panchayat town in the Davangere district of the Karnataka state. This village is situated about 50km from Davangere. It is village that unfolds surprising picture of cobras. People who enter the village will have no fear of death from cobra bites. Cobras are seen in almost all the houses. People living in this village have no fear of snake bites. Name of the village itself means, The Cobra Village. Co-existence of cobras and the villagers is an amazing factor. Also can be called as a challenge for modern day science.

Many times people get bitten by the poisonous cobra. But they never go to a doctor for treatment. Nothing happens to them unless they cross the borders of this village. If after a cobra bite person leaves the village, death is inevitable. So, people never go out of the village at that time. They leave the snake near the mantapam(burial place) of Yateeshwara swamy, when a snake bites.

Whoever gets bitten by a cobra, first visits the nearby Lord Hanuman temple. Takes the holy water called theertham and stays at the temple for that day and until next morning. Besides this, they are no special medications or first aid treatments.

Yateeshwara swamy was a Sadhu(or saint). The Sadhu was a Lord Hanuman devotee. He always went house to house and begged for food. He used to stay at the Hanuman Temple. The curse of Yateeshwara swamy is the reason why people do not die when a cobra bites, in this particular village.

The story of the Sadhu Yateeshwara swamy is interesting. He went begging one day, to the nearby village. He found a newborn baby amongst the bushes. It was a boy. The Sadhu was moved by the sight. He could not leave the child alone. He took the child and brought up with utmost affection.

One day, when the Sadhu was out, begging for food, the 12 year old boy was bit by a cobra. When Sadhu returned to the place, he saw the dead body of the boy. He was filled with anger and grief. He had powers gained through meditation. He stood up to curse Nagendra, Lord of the Snake Kingdom. When he was about to curse the entire snake family, Nagendra appeared before him. He begged Yateeshwara to spare the snake family and not to curse them. Also promised to restore life into the child’s body.

Then, Sadhu reduced the curse just to make the snake poison ineffective and when they are only within Nagenahalli village limits. Nagendra agreed to this and returned to Naglok(kingdom of snakes). Sadhu marked the village limits with 4 stones in all the four directions. All 4 stones have inscriptions on it, written by the Sadhu himself. To this day, due to the curse, cobra poison becomes ineffective when they stay within village limits.

The exact period of existence of Yateeshwara swamy in this village, is not yet clear. He made a rule that people living in this village should never consume non-veg food and never kill snakes. If they do so knowingly, then they would face dire consequences. This story has been passed on from generation to generation.

There are more than 70 houses in the village. Snakes are seen moving around like pets of the villagers. Large number of poisonous cobras is found here. People who visit the village can see cobras moving along the houses, paddy fields, gardens, bushes etc. Neither the humans staying at the village nor the cobras are scared of each other. It is a very peaceful co-existence. When a snake dies, villagers do the last rites as per Hindu customs because they consider cobra as a Brahmin( a person belonging to upper caste).

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Close encounter of Dosa and divine Cobra

Dosa, the unfortunate autorickshaw driver

Dosa was a bold autorickshaw driver residing near Channapatna (city famous for wooden toys). Channapatna is a small city located 60km south-west of Bangalore, Karnataka state, India, on the Bangalore-Mysore state highway.

Dosa had come across two serpents dancing amidst the lush green fields, when he went to meet his friend, in a nearby village. The area was very close to one of his friends house. He was waiting to meet his friend there. But three women who came there insisted him to kill those playing cobras. The women thought that the cobras were a threat to the cattle and sheep which came there for grazing. Dosa was a very strong minded person. He never thought of killing the cobras as they did no harm to him or anybody standing nearby.

After sometime, his friend came to that place. He saw the two mating snakes. Once again, he too started forcing Dosa to kill the cobras. Now, Dosa couldn't reject his friend's request. He killed one of the serpents but the other one disappeared without leaving any clue of its whereabouts. He dug up the nearby hole through which it tried to escape. But after he had dug up for a few inches, he could see nothing. Hole had ended up there.

Dosa forgot the incident. But after a span of two months, one fine morning when he woke up, he couldn't see anything around him. Dosa and his house members where shocked. He went to most of the reputed hospitals in and around Bangalore. Treatments done by eye surgeons went in vain. One of the doctors also conducted the eye operation. But it was of no use. Doctors blamed Dosa himself, saying that he was just acting like a blind.

Dosa saw cobras...cobras and only cobras attacking him in his dreams, by day and by night. One of the cobras had a golden glow. It jumped and attacked him like a moving rocket. This repeated more than hundred times. Another cobra had human like eyes. But it attacked only once in his dream. These experiences where horrible.

Now, Dosa had no way, but to go in search of astrologers and temples which he hoped could do something better. After sometime, one of the astrologers told him about the mistake he did by killing a divine serpent. But it was too late and nothing could be done. He still continued going to the holy shrines to get rid of the problem. But it was not fruitful in anyway. Meanwhile, Dosa's only son died. His father was bed ridden because of a stroke. He too died after a few days. Only his wife, mother and himself were left. At this time two children were born. Both were boys. But Dosa was not lucky enough to see his children.

His friend who requested Dosa to kill the Cobras also died after he became mentally retarded. Women who insisted where not left either. One of them died because of a cobra bite. Another women was totally into a huge loss. She lost all her sheep. All the sheep died for no reason. Her life became miserable. The third woman was full of debts in her chit fund business and had to flee from her place.

Now, Dosa is waiting for a person who can miraculously heal his blindness and bring light into his life.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Serpent or Cobra speciality

Some parts of southern India is believed to be once covered with dense jungles, during the ancient times. Snakes and cobras were abundant in the jungle during that period. When people here started converting the forest land into agricultural land, these reptiles started to become extinct or had no place. Many of them where killed without any reason. Then problems started arising one after the other. Most of these problems were because of the ancestors who killed snakes or pelted stones at these reptiles for their safety. The people had to face unknown kinds of skin diseases and other family related problems because of this. Ultimately the root of such problems were found in horoscopes and they called it "Sarpadosha".

The cobras were believed to be equivalent of a brahmin(a hindu priestly class person). The cobras in this land were treated like gods and worshipped. To get rid of this Sarpadosha, the people started following many kinds of serpent god related celebrations. They also installed the holy stones with serpent god's image carved on them, and called it as Stone serpent( Naganakallu in kannada language).

In some places they also built small shrines. These shrines were called Nagabrahmasthana or shortly as Brahmasthana. There annual celebrations such as Nema or Naga darshana were conducted. Nagabrahma mandala, Dakkebali, Ashlesha bali etc. were also conducted during some auspicious days.

Dakkebali celebration

Learn more about Dakkebali celebration at this famous page:

Nagabrahma Mandala

Dakkebali celebration

Tulunadu is that part of Dakshina Kannada region(South kanara district) in Karnataka where people communicate in Tulu language. Here, Serpent or Cobra worship is done in a special way. One can see Cobra worship performed extensively here, than in any part of the world. Every town, every village and every family have the stone snakes installed for worship.

This part is also called Nagaloka(Serpent world) or Nagarakhanda(Serpent zone). There are many types in Serpent worship.

Installing stone snakes, offering of milk to serpent god, to perform Tambila, to make the serpent god possessed in someone, Ashlesha bali, Dakkebali, Nagamandala.

There are 3 ways of performing the Nagamandala:

1) ¼ mandala of sacred 4.
2) ½ mandala of scared 8.
3) Full mandala of sacred 16.

Nagamandala is performed in an open place or vast field. Nagapathris(one who gets possessed)and vaidyas make this ritual a huge success. The Areca flowers are piled up like anything, for this ritual. Nagamandala is a religious activity here.

Kukke Subrahmanya in South kanara district of Karnataka, India, is a holy place to get effective results or remedies for any kind of Sarpadosha. Here the people who are in trouble because of Sarpadosha come to the temple and ask the priests to help them perform the Ashlesha bali. This place is said to have more power than any other holy place for such a ritual related to the Nagas(cobras).

When a cobra is seen lying dead anywhere, Sarpasamskara is performed to come out of the Sarpadosha. As the cobra is said to be of the Brahmin caste, these last rites and rituals are necessary, according to Hindus.

A similar Serpent god related "Srimad Anantheshwar temple" of GSB community at Manjeshwar, Kerala State:

Rath for the Shashti celebration at Manjeshwar:

Holy chariot named Chandramandala for the Shashti celebration:

Gold Lalkhi taken for Utsav celebration at Manjeshwar, on the Panchami day:

Ratharohan at Manjeshwar temple:


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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Enchanting dance of cobra

Serpent King Thakshak’s story:

King by name Parikshith, the grandson of Arjuna ruled over Hastinapura after the reign of Pandavas. Once when Parikshith went for hunting, he felt thirsty. He went to a nearby hut. it belonged to sage Shameek. The king called out loudly to help him get some water. But as the sage was in deep meditation he could not hear any of the King's words. The king got annoyed.

He brought a dead snake from the nearby forest and put it on the sage Shameek's shoulder and around the neck. Yet the sage didn't show any signs of coming out from his meditation posture. The king left the place egoistically. Soon after, the sage Shameek's son returned to the hut, got burnt with anger and fury on finding his father’s salvation being disrupted. He cursed the King that he would die on the seventh day with the bite of Thakshak king of venomous snakes. Sage scolded his son for this revengeful act and said, "Devotees of the Lord are not rightful of this act of cursing someone. It is the Divine himself who will carve the path of repayment of our deeds.”

Later, the King realised his mistake and readily accepted the curse. He thought of hearing the Shri Mad Bhagwat Puraan, a holy book, for the whole week before his death and for the purification of his sinful deed. He was inside the palace for all seven days with tight security around in order to escape this death. But Indra, the king of devathas disguised in the form of a Brahmin and came with a basket of fruits. And the serpent king Thakshak hid himself in the form of a small worm in one of those fruits. The Brahmin said he wanted to offer those special fruits to the king and got permission from the guards to enter the palace. As he was offering those fruits to the King, the King saw the small worm in the fruit. He carelessly took it in his hand and placed it on the silky cloth on his shoulder. Suddenly, the worm transformed itself into a huge snake, Thakshak and bit hardly on the king’s face. Then, the huge Cobra snake vanished through the window after it’s job was accomplished. The king’s efforts to escape from death went in vain. But his decision of hearing the holy Bhagawath Puraan led him to Vaikunth, the abode of Lord Vishnu, on the day of his cursed death.

Now, the dead King’s son, Janamejaya vowed to take revenge of his father’s death. He organised a yagna called “Sarpa yaga” to destroy Lord Indra and all the kinds of snakes on the earth.

Brahspatiji, the guru of devathas, came to Indra’s rescue and asked Janamejaya to stop the yagna as this led to only more and more sins. He further explained that this hateful revenge did not let him realise that the curse had led his father to the purest path of salvation and inturn he would only take the lives of millions of snakes on the earth, a sin in itself. Then Sage Vasista asked Janamejaya to perform construction of Vishnava temples to redeem the sins of killing innocent snakes during Sarpa Yagna.

Serpent dance in movies:

Cobra snake is thought to be equivalent of a brahmin(a hindu priestly class person) in India. Indian mythology and scriptures reveal many stories related to these snakes. Indians treat cobra snakes equal to that of gods. Every year Nagpanchami is celebrated in most parts of India to pay special respect to the serpent god. On this day, stone snakes are bathed with milk, honey, tender coconut water, turmeric etc. And decorated with Areca and ketaki flowers. They have special respect for these Cobras. According to the Hindus in this region, a person or his descendants will suffer from unknown skin diseases or family related problems if he/she kills a cobra snake. Even stone pelting to cobra snakes can bring some untold sufferings. Snake charmers in India have spread myths which are totally misleading.

Indian movies are sometimes filmed on these snake related stories. A few are very interesting to watch even to this day . One of them is actress Sridevi's Nagina(1986).

Sridevi in "Nagina"

Waheeda Rehman in "Guide"

Reena Roy in "Nagin"

Naga Mani or cobra pearl:

There are so many legends that throw light upon the mystic "Nagmani". An Ichhadhari(a power to transform oneself into any form of being) nag or Cobra develops this nagmani in it’s mouth after completion of it’s 100 living years. When it doesn’t use it’s venom for any purpose, it gets converted into a precious Nagmani. It then preserves the mani within the throat all the time. Whenever it wants to use it as a bait for catching the prey, it keeps the mani on a rock or on the ground which illuminates the whole area in red light. Then whichever creatures that comes close to it or found in that light are eaten by this cobra.

According to the Hindu mythology, there is a separate place called “Naglok”( serpent world), meant for all types of cobras and snakes which are Ichadharis. This has been given in some indian epics. Scientific research also proved that snakes can stay underground without oxygen for several months during it’s hibernation period. Also they are the only creatures other than human beings that possess the power to awaken kundalini shakthi. In fact snakes get thier kundalini awakened naturally unlike humans who strive with great efforts and sadhanas.

The person who wishes to get this nagamani tries to spot the glow of red light in any jungle or an open place. When he is sure about it, he climbs a nearby tree and throws a large iron tavva or a big iron vessel on it with a rope carefully. Then the cobra bites and hits it’s hood to the iron vessel till it dies. The cobra tries to regain the mani till its last breath. If anyone comes in front of the male cobra(nag) when it dies, the image would be captured in the eyes of it and the female cobra(nagin) later chases that person and bites him till the person dies.

This whole venture is dangerous as well as risky. If the snake commits suicide the curse of the Snake will befall on the collector and his descendants. Because of this sinful act, there are families which are still unable to come out of the curse of the Cobra snake. In the holy books, it is said that Lord Shiva gave Nagamani to all Nagadevathas(snake gods) and not to selfish humans.

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