Saptosava – Seven Utsavas
The Saptosava or the seven Utsavas can be considered to be the annual festival in Sri Krishna Math. It commences 5 days prior, to, Makara Sankramanam and carries on daily. The sixth Utsavam takes place on the night of Makara Sankramana and on the next day, the Utsava takes place during day time (These Utsavas take place about the middle of January every year). On the first day as well as on Sankramana day, the Utsava commences at an auspicious time, after prayers and after propitiation of the Navagrahas. The Utsava Murthis of Sri Krishna and Mukhyaprana are taken out of the math in gold palanquin to the Madhwasarovar and placed in a well decorated float erected on boats and taken around the sarovara. This is known as Teppotsava or floating festival. From there the deities are brought in gold palanquin to the chariots outside, the Swamier takes the Murthi of Sri Krishna and the archaka takes the Murthi of Mukhyaprana up the chariot. A mangalarathi is raised in the chariot and then it is dragged halfway round the Car-Street and made to stop there for some time. The Swamiers take their seat on fresh cloth spread to on the ground and carry on philosophic discussions if they feel like. Fireworks take place at this time. Bhajans are sung. Camphor is lighted in a row. Fresh cloth dripped in oil is burnt. This is known a Agni Thorana (meant as an antidote for any evil eye cast on the deity who has arrived with all stately grandeur). After a string of gun powder explosions, the chariot is drawn again and brought to the starting point. The deities are then taken in gold palanquin to the ‘Vasanta Mahal’ and the ‘cradle puja is performed. After Ashtavadhana and manthrakshata, the deities are taken inside the Math and the usual flute seva and ekanta seva take place. During the first five of these Utsavams, two chariots are drawn. In the medium chariot are placed the deities of Sri Krishna and Mukhyaprana and in the small chariot are placed the deities of Anantheswar and Chandramoulishwar. The Utsava on the Sankramana night, that is, on the sixth night, is the grandest. It is on this day that Sri Krishna idol was originally installed by Sri Madhwacharya in Udupi. On this night, all the three chariots are drawn.
In the biggest chariot (Brahma Ratha) is placed the murthi of Sri Krishna and in the smallest is placed the murthi of Sri Mukyaprana. In the medium chariot are placed the deities of Annantheswar and Chandreswar temples. After mangalarathi is raised to each of these deities in their respective chariots, the smallest chariot is first drawn and parked in the southern street (half way round ) on the right side, the medium chariot is parked on the same line on the left side and the biggest chariot is parked in line in the center. These three chariots standing side by side make a very grand and unique sight. It is only once a year, on this sankramana night, that all the three chariots are drawn. On the last day, the Utsavatakes place during day time. After Mahapuja, the Utsava murthis of Sri Krishna and Mukhyaprana are brought out in gold palanquin and taken up the biggest chariot. All the Swamiers go up the chariot one by one and raise mangalarathi. The offerings of laddu, fruits etc., together with coins are thrown by the Swamiers from up the chariot to the people below. At this time an eagle (garuda) is invariably seen to circle round this chariot. After this, the chariot is drawn round the Car Street and the deity is taken to the Vasantha Mahal (olaga mantapam) and a puja is performed. Mangalarathi is raised to the various Swamiers as well and after manthrakshate is distributed to all present, the Swamiers and others assembled smear themselves with coloured water. The Swamiji takes the deity to the Madhawasarovar and gives it a bath. This is a holy moment and all Swamiers and other men and women also take their bath in the tank at the same time. On this day flowers smeared with gold paste are offered to the deity in the chariot and the very same flowers are thrown from the chariot to the people assembled below. Hence this Utsava is known as (suvarna) Choornotsava. During all these seven days a large number of brahmin men ad women are fed in the Math but the number thus fed runs into thousands on the Choornotsava day.
Shri Madhwa Navami
Shri Madhwanavami celebrated on a grand scale in Udupi. It is on this auspicious day on the ninth day of the bright half of the month of Makara (February) that Sri Madhwacharya disappeared from mortal sight. On this day, all the Swamiers pay homage and make special puja to the sacred spot in the Ananthasana Temple from where he disappeared. It is believed that Sri Madhwacharya still resides in spirit in this holy spot. The paryaya Swamier arranges for the mass feeding of the brahmins on this day. All devout Maadhwas take bath on this day in Madhwasarovar, recite Madhwavijaya (biography of Sri Madhwacharya) and worship the sacred spot.
In the evening , the picture of Sri Madhwacharya is taken round in a procession. At night there is a grand Utsava in which the biggest chariot is drawn.
On this day in March, in the evening, a procession starts from Sri Krishna Math, proceeds upto Kadiyali and returns. At night there is another procession and the programme consists of the burning of an effigy of ‘Kama’. Next morning there is another procession wherein the members smear themselves with coloured water.
Sri Rama Navami
This festival falls on the ninth day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra (April). There is a special Utsava for this occasion. There is a special Abhisheka for the deity (Sri Rama) of Sri Palimar Math if it happens to be in the Sri Krishna Math.
This is the New Year’s day. The celebrations consist of a chariot Utsava, cradle puja, reading of annual predictions from panchanga, distribution of Prasada etc. at day time.
This is the spring festival. Every year in Chaitra, Vasantapuja continues for 2 months every night. Light refreshment, in the form of prasadam, is distributed to the public after it is offered to God during the puja. From Akshaya Tritiya onwards, up to Vaishakha Poornima (in May), there is car festival every night at the end of which the cradle puja is performed in the Vasantha Mahal on a grand scale. On Vaishaka Dwadasi, the utsava takes place during afternoon and a large number of brahmins are treated to heavy refreshments after this.
The deities of Sri Krishnapur and Sri Kaniyoor Maths are Sri Narasimha. If these deities happen to be in the Sri Krishna Math, special abhisheka, feeding of brahmins and chariot utsavam take place on this day in the month of May.
On this day in June, there is special puja in the ‘Bhagirathi gudi’ in the Madhwasarovar. A car festival for Lord Sri Krishna takes place at night, and mantapa puja is specially held before Bhagirathi gudi in Madhwa Sarovara.
The word ‘Chaturmasa’ means ‘four months’, it refers to a period from the bright half ekadasi of Ashada to the same day in Kartika. On the Ashada Shuddha Ashtami day, annual spring cleaning is done to the garbha gudi and all the utensils and articles used in connection with the pujas. On Ashada shuddha dasami day, there is special abhisheka to the idol of Sri Krishna which amounts to spring cleaning of the idol and other images. This is followed by a sumptuous feast to the invited gathering. On the next day, that is, on ekadasi, there is a branding ceremony called Tapta Mudradharana (in July).
On the ekadasi nights, during the above mentioned four months, there is a special puja at night and a programme till the early hours of the morning is arranged with a view to keep the pious people awake during the night. The programme consists of instrumental music, dancing and Sankeertana, reading of puranas etc. After a puja by the paryaya Swamier, all the Swamiers assembled also dance a little in bhakti and do pradakshina namaskara. On an auspicious day in the month of Ashada, the Utsava Murthi of Lord Sri Krishna is taken inside and is not brought out until Uttanadwadasi. During this period, which roughly coincides with the monsoon, there is no Utsava and no mantapapuja. During these four months, vegetables, curd, milk and pulses are taboo each month respectively and this discipline and self control is .observed by many orthodox people. It is during this period that the sacred thread ceremonies for the Rig, Yajur and Sama veda followers occur.
During the three important months in the year, puranas depicting the greatness of these months are read in three places namely Simhasana, Chandrashala and foot steps of Madhwasarovar. During Poornimas, Vyasapuja is conducted.
Sri Krishna Jayanthi
This festival comes off on the Shravana Krishna Ashtami, in the month of August or September every year. Complete fast is observed on that day and when the moon rises at about midnight, the Swamijis take their bath and offer special puja and ‘Arghya’ to Sri Krishna. Varieties of sweets are prepared as offerings during this puja.
Next day, after special puja in the morning a large number of invited guests are sumptuously fed in the morning itself as on dwadasi day (due to the previous day’s fast.) At noon a special Utsava takes place. A clay image of Sri Krishna is kept on golden chariot and taken round the Car Street, which is beautifully decorated with number of special arches, under which earthen pots filled with coloured water and sweets are broken, in imitation of Sri Krishna’s childish pranks. Various pantomimes, mimics of tigers, men in masked figures and fancy dress go about amusing the people. This celebration attracts a very huge crowd from neighbouring places. After the Utsava, the Math people indulge in sports, smear themselves in coloured water and take their bath. The clay idol is then thrown into the Madhwasarovar. Refreshments like laddus are served to the public.
This festival which is celebrated to mark the birth day of Ganapathi comes off on the fourth day of the bright half of Bhadrapada in the month of September. It is also the day when Ganapathi was blessed by ‘Vishwambhara Roopi Paramatma’. On the morning of this day, clay idol of Ganapathi is taken to the Sri Krishna Math in a grand procession and installed in a decorated mantapam in Badagumalige and worshipped. Similar images are installed in one or two other places also inside the Mutt and worshipped. Performance of special homa and feeding of brahmins take place on this day. These images are kept and worshipped for four days which attract a large number of devotees. On the fourth day, these are taken out in procession round the Car Street and brought to the Madhwasarovara. There they are kept in a decorated mantapam built on two boats and after being taken round the tank, are dropped into water one by one.
This festival comes off on the 14th day of bright half of Bhadrapada in the month of September. On this day there is Kalashaprathishte, special puja and sumptuous feast for brahmins in the Math.
This comes off usually in the month of October. Commencing with the first day of the bright half Ashvija, this festival lasts for 10 days. During the first nine days, the idol of Sri Krishna is decorated in the feminine form of Laksmi. Recitation from vedas, puranas and other scriptures takes place every day. On the Mulanakshatra day. holy books are kept in a specially erected mantapam in the Chandrashaia and worshipped. This Puja is repeated during the next 3 days as well. During this period offering of large quantities of panchakajjaya is made to God and distributed among the public. The holy books are removed on Shravana nakshatra day. On the tenth day, known as Vijaya Dasam/samples of fresh harvest are brought into the Mutt in gold palanquin from the fields nearby and worshipped. Every pillar and door is adorned with a small bunch of the corn. This corn is also cooked and served to the Swamijis and other invited guests. In the evening a procession is taken out of the Math to Kadiyali, a place nearby, where puja is offered to Shami plant (a relic of the ancient custom).
Paschima Jagarana Pooja
This special puja takes place every morning for one month from Ashwayuja Shuddha Ekadasi till Kartika Shuddha Dwadasi. After the nirmalya visarjana puja which is the first puja in the morning, special offerings of beaten rice, jaggery, coconuts, plantains and betel leaves are made and mangalarathi is raised. The same arathi is brought outside and raised once again before the God, then raised before Tulasi plant, Sri Mukhyaprana, Sri Madhwacharya and Sri Garuda. This puja is performed by the Paryaya Swamier himself. Before the commencement of the puja, various types of musical instruments are played for about 15 minutes each. In the end ail the instruments are played together and the musicians go round the Math seven times. A separate set of people carry on bhajan throughout this period.
Deepavali (Balindra Pooja)
This festival comes off in the month of October or November. On the thirteenth day of the dark half of Ashwayuja, puja is offered to water. Next morning at moon rise, a pooja offering oil to Krishna is performed. After this the Swamiers and other members take their oil bath. On the New Moon day, puja is offered to the image of Ball which is artistically drawn on the ground in front of the gopuram. A large number of wick lamps are lighted on this occasion. On the next day puja is offered to the cows of the Math after they are washed, decorated and fed with special sweets etc. Then, the cows are taken in a procession round the Car Street.
From the first day in the month of Kartika till dwadashi, a special puja is offered to the Tulasi plant after the ratri puja every night. The Tulasi Vrindavan is decorated in the form of a mantapam of plantain tree trunk in a very artistic way every day. After the puja there is a programme of ‘Sankeertana. On the dwadasi day, Tulasi puja takes place in the morning after Mahapuja. In the afternoon a special Ksheerabdhi puja takes place for the deities of Sri Krishnapur, Sri Puttige and Sri Kaniyoor Maths if they happen to be in the Sri Krishna Math, at the mantapam in Madhwasarovara.
At night, after the puja, at a very auspicious moment, after special prayers and offering of gifts in propitiation of Navagrahas, the Utsava Murthi is taken out in gold palanquin and ‘teppotsava’ is conducted in the Madhwasarovar in a special mantapam built on boats. After this, chariot festival takes place. The whole street is lit up by tiny wick lamps in earthenware dishes which are kept in many tiers on special scaffoldings on both sides of the Car Street all round. Such lights run into lakhs and hence the name ‘laksha deepa’ for this utsava. The utsava takes place every night for four days upto Poornima. After the utsava, the cradle puja takes place in the Vasanta Mahal. For these utsavas, the medium size and small size chariots are used. In the medium chariot are kept the deities of Sri Krishna and Mukyaprana. Anantheshwara and Chandramouleswar deities are kept in the small chariot.
On this day celebration consists of special puja in the Sri Subrahmanya gudi, Chariot Utsava during morning and mass feeding of brahmins at noon. A car festival for Lord Krishna takes place at night and mantapapuja is held in Subrahmanya Gudi.
Every day throughout the month of Dhanu, a special puja takes place at dawn. Pongal and many other sweets are prepared as an offering for this puja which is later on served to a few invited people.
The paryaya Swamiers celebrate the aradhana or death anniversary of their immediate gurus on a grand scale. Mass feeding of thousands of brahmins is undertaken on this occasion, preparation for which, (such as cutting of vegetables etc.) commences even on the previous night with the help of members of all the other Mutts. At night there is chariot festival (if it is outside the four months of monsoon).
Mass feeding on a very huge scale takes place on Gurusamaradhana, Madhwanavami, Choomotsava, last day of the outgoing and the first day of the incoming paryaya days and on these occasions there is usually good co-operation among the members of eight Maths and other Brahmins in serving and in looking after other arrangements in connection with this feeding.