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Annual festivals, continued

Hayagrîva Jayanti

The full moon day of shrâvaNa is celebrated as Hayagrîva Jayanti. It was on this day that the Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of Hayagrîva on this Earth. This is an especially important festival of Sri Sode Mutt. During the paryâya of other MaTha-s also, special rituals are performed by offering the special dish of `Hayagrîva maDDi' which is a favorite of Sri Hayagrîva.

The same day pavitrâropaNa is also performed. Silken threads are folded into three and then 12, 24, or 36 pavitra knots are tied. This is then placed on the icon like a garland. This is known as pavitrâropaNa. It is believed that by offering this garland, demerits or bad effects accrued due to any shortcomings or defects in the ceremonies and rituals performed that year are warded off. This thread is also known as Kalki dâra.

After offering these threads to Sri Krishna, they are sent to other MaTha-s along with prasâda, and are also distributed to householders.

dadhi vratârambha

From the twelfth day in the bright fortnight of shrâvaNa to the twelfth day of the bright fortnight of bhâdrapada the people observe dadhivrata. During this time the devotees abstain from eating curds.

Anniversary of Sri Raghavendra Swami

The anniversary of Sri Raghavendra Swami falls on the second day of the dark fortnight in the month of shrâvaNa. The paryâya Swamiji offers special services to the saint and arranges a feast. Seminars and discourses take place. A three-day festival is also arranged in the shrine of Sri Raghavendra Tîrtha.

Sri Krishna Jayanti

The eighth day in the dark fortnight of the month of simha is the day of incarnation of Sri Krishna. If the rohiNî star is on at midnight the day is known by the name janmâshhTami. The rules for observing this festival are given in the Krishna-Jayanti-Nirnaya, a work composed specifically for the purpose by Srîmad Ânanda Tîrtha.

Those who follow the lunar calender celebrate this on the eighth day of the dark fortnight of the lunar month of shrâvaNa. Those who follow the solar calender celebrate it on the eighth day of the dark fortnight in the solar month of simha. This may fall either in the month of shrâvaNa or bhâdrapada. It may be noted that the star rohiNî appears on the eighth day in the month of simha. Hence the solar calendar appears to be more appropriate to follow in celebrating the festival, and is followed in Udupi.

Sri Krishna Jayanti is celebrated with great pomp and ceremony in Udupi. The devotees fast during the day and scholars chant the Bhagavad Gîtâ, Bhagavata, and other sacred texts. In Sri Krishna MaTha, the icon of Sri Krishna is decorated as a young child.

At midnight, as the moon rises, dishes such as chakkuli and laddige are offered to the icon of Sri Krishna and sacred leaves of bilva are offered. Water and milk are poured with shaN^kha (conch-shell) by the devotees. As per tradition, cowherds from the nearby villages also offer arghya of water and milk in front of the icon of Sri Krishna.

The rituals offered to Sri Krishna which take place in the early morning of the next day are like those offered on a dvâdashî day.

Note: In the homes of the devotees, Sri Krishna Jayanti is celebrated with great piety. They fast throughout the day and in the night, as midnight approaches, they perform abhisheka to the family icon. After the midnight pooja they then break their fast.

mosaru kuDike

During the day the Car Street fills with devotees who have come to celebrate the birth of Sri Krishna. It is a festival celebrating Sri Krishna's sport, fun, and frolic. The utsava mûrti (processional icon) of Sri Krishna is taken around the Car Street on the golden palanquin.

Mud pots, known as mosaru kuDike, which contain turmeric and saffron water, are suspended from wooden poles. Devotees, dressed as cowherds, jump and hit at the pots with sticks in an attempt to break them. This is to celebrate the pastime of Krishna when He broke butter pots and ate their contents.

In Udupi, the icon of Sri Krishna holds a churning rod and rope, and so this re-enactment of breaking the butter pots by the people celebrates an important episode from the childhood pastimes of Krishna. For this reason it is celebrated with much pomp, festivity and fun.

Fancy dress parades relating to the childhood pastimes of Sri Krishna take place in the Car Street. Also appearing are dancers dressed as tigers and bears and so on, as a sort of service to Lord Krishna on his birthday. The Swamijis of all MaTha-s give presents and remuneration to these performers.

Ganesha chaturthi

The fourth day in the bright fortnight of the month of bhâdrapada is celebrated as the festival of Lord Ganesha. A special pûjâ is performed to Ganapati. This pûjâ is also offered to Sri Vishnu through the elephant-faced god.

The icon of Ganapati made of clay by artists of Udupi is brought to baDage mâLige during an auspicious period on that day. The entire area is decorated artistically with different kinds of decorations. A huge rangavalli of Ganesha is constructed in front of the icon. This is a feast to the eyes for the next four days.

After worshipping the special Ganapati icon for four days the icon is taken out in procession and then immersed in the Madhva-Sarovara.

At the entrance of the shrine also there is a small icon of Ganapati. Special worship is arranged there to the Lord Vishnu in the form of Sri Vishvambhara. The priests perform a sacrifice known as gaNahoma. The Swamiji offers prasâda of Lord Vishvambhara to Ganapati and performs ârati.

A special icon of Ganapati made of five metals is present at Ananteshwara and is worshipped every day. Here also, the festival of Ganesha is celebrated with pomp.

There is a very interesting story in connection with this Ganapati, but I have forgotten the full details. I was going to mention it in the chapter containing the initial reference to Ananteshwara but because of incomplete memory of the story I didn't. It goes along the lines -- the icon had been worshipped in a fort (can't remember where) and when the fort was attacked by marauding Muslims the icon was removed and eventually placed in the Ananteshwara temple for safe keeping. Even after the Muslims had been driven back, the icon remained in the Ananteshwara temple.

During Ganesha-chaturthî, special festivals are held here during the night and it is a magnificent sight. The whole of the temple is lit up with oil lamps and the people queue up to view the icon. Because of all the oil lamps this is the best time to view the icon.

Bhûvarâha jayanti

The fifth day in the bright fortnight of bhâdrapada is celebrated as Bhûvarâha Jayanti. In Sri Krishna Mutt, special dishes of roots and bulbs are offered to the icon. In Sode MaTha, a special festival is arranged as Sri Bhûvarâha is the presiding Deity there.

Kalki Jayanti

The sixth day in the bright fortinight of bhâdrapada is celebrated with special services to Sri Vishnu in the form of Kalki.

dadhi Vâmana Jayanti

It was on the twelfth day in the bright fortnight of bhâdrapada that Sri Vishnu took the incarnation of Vâmana and came down to earth. The icon of Sri Krishna is decorated as the small boy Vâmana. Special naivedya of curd and rice is offered. A good feast is arranged for the devotees.

After observing a month's diet restrction of avoiding curds, people start taking yogurt on this day. The period beginning from this day onward, up to the eleventh day of the bright fortnight of âshvayuja, is known as kshîra vrata. During this time milk is not to be partaken of.

ananta chaturdashî

The fourteenth day in the bright fortnight of the month of bhâdrapada is known as anantana vrata. The Lord Ananta Padmanâbha is invoked in a pot filled with water and decorated with coconut and flowers. Special pûja is celebrated with fourteen varieties of dishes.


From the first day to the ninth day in the bright fortnight of ashvayuja, the icon of Sri Krishna is decorated with the costumes of the goddesses such as Shrî, Bhû, Durgâ, Satyabhâmâ, and Saraswatî.

All the works of Sri Madhva are chanted by the scholars during the days of Navaratri.

pustaka pûjâ

The volumes of holy scriptures are worshipped during the period of the stars mûlâ to shravaNa, commencing from the sixth or seventh day of navarâtri and going up to the ninth or tenth day in that fortnight. In the northern corner of the hall known as candrashâle, palm leaf manuscripts are arranged in a nicely decorated maNTapa. Sri Veda Vyâsa and the goddess Saraswati are worshipped as guardian angels of learning and scholarship.

At the conclusion of the mahâpûjâ on each of these days, the Swamiji performs Vyâsa pûjâ and at the conclusion of the rituals on the last day, the scholars celebrate their initiation ceremony.

vijaya dashamî

This is the festival of harvest. Tender shoots of corn are ceremoniously brought to the shrine and worshipped. They are then tied to the different parts and objects of the shrine.

This is the day the front gate, on the eastern side of the Mutt where the icon of Sri Chenna Keshava is installed, is opened to bring in the tender shoots. The entrance which was formerly used for going inside the shrine from the Madhva Sarovara is now used only once a year. The new rice is cooked and offered to the icon of Sri Krishna and a special feast called 'new meal' is served.

On this day a special feast is arranged at chauki. On all the other days of the year the Swamijis sit for lunch facing south, but on this day, they sit facing east.

Buddha jayanti, and Madhva jayanti

The vijaya dashami day is also celebrated as Buddha jayanti. Vishnu is worshipped in the the form of the Buddha on this day.

Sri Madhva was born in Pâjaka Kshetra on the vijaya dashami day and a special pûjâ is performed to the icon of Sri Madhva in the shrine of Sri Krishna and also to the icon of the Acharya at Anantheswara.

shamî pûjâ

A procession of victory and the worship of the Samî tree are special rituals taking place the same day. A tableau of an army is taken in a procession to the Mahisha Mardini temple at Kadiyali with all royal paraphernalia and a shamî tree is worshipped there. The priest of the MaTha performs the ritual. Afterwards the royal elephant of the Mutt is also worshipped.

pashchima jâgara pûjâ

For a period of one month, beginning from midnight on the tenth day of the bright fortnight of ashvayuja, and continuing up to the eleventh day in the bright fortnight of kârtika, special pûjâ-s are performed daily in the late hours of the night. This ritual is known as pashchima jâgara pûjâ because it is performed by remaining awake during the latter half of the night. It is performed to please Sri Kartika Damodara. Rice, jaggery, fruits and coconuts are offered and ârati is waved around the icon.

This period of one month is also observed by refraining from eating pulses (lentils). During the preceding three months of the châturmâsya, vegetables, curds (yogurt) and milk have not been eaten.

âkâsha dîpa

During the month of kârtika, the sky-lamps are lit to propitiate Kartika Damodara. The stems of areca trees are set up and the light are hung from the top of these posts. Each of the eight Mutts has two of these sky-lamps, but Sri Krishna MaTha has four of them.


The ritual of worship through lamps begins on the twelfth day of the dark fortnight of the month of âshvayuja.

On the evening of the following day, an oil lamp is lit on the southern side of the shrine. During this ritual, known as yamadîpa, the priests pray to Yamarâja, the god of death, to ward off untimely death and also to obtain prosperity for mankind.

jalapûraNa and Ganga pûjâ

On the same night the metal pot used for heating water is cleaned and decorated. A swastika is drawn on the floor by the side of the pot and Sri Ganga and Sri Trivikrama are worshipped after placing a shâligrâma upon it. The fire to warm the water is lit by the Swamiji and the pot is heated during the night.

naraka caturdashî

At dawn on the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of the month of ashvayuja, after removing the flowers from the icon of Sri Krishna, and after the nirmâlya visarjana pûjâ, the Swamiji applies oil to the icon. Sri Krishna is then washed with gram flour and hot water. This ritual is performed to commemorate the defeat and destruction of the demon Narakâsura by Krishna. It was on this day that Sri Krishna took an oil bath before sunrise and then went to Prâgjyotishha (modern Assam) to vanquish the demon. During the day a special feast is arranged in the chauki.

The oil and gram flour offered to Lord Krishna is later distributed to the devotees present; they apply them to their body and then take a bath.

balîndra pûjâ; alakshmî nissaraNa

On either the same day or on the next day, when the new moon period occurs in the night, the devotees celebrate the balîndra festival to ward off inauspiciousness.

In the Car Street in front of Kanaka's window, the image of balîndra is drawn on the ground using coloured powder. A lamp post is also erected to ward off inauspiciousness. In Krishna Mutt, after the night's regular pûjâ, and in the presence of the Swamiji, the priests worship Balîndra. Through him the worship Sri Vâmana and they also perform other rituals to ward off inauspiciousness.


The first day of the bright fortnight of kârtika is known as bali pâDya. On this day the cowshed of Krishna Mutt is cleaned, white-washed and decorated. The cows are bathed and decked with flowers. Special dishes are offered to them and ârati is performed.

tuLasî pûjâ

For twelve days, beginning on the first day of the bright fortnight of kârtika and continuing up to the twelfth day, Sri Keshava and another eleven forms of Vishnu are worshipped via the tuLasî plant. This worship is performed after the râtri pûjâ and is one of the most important festivals of Sri Krishna Mutt.

The tuLasî vR^indâvana, which is located near the tîrtha maNTapa, is nicely decorated. All the oil lamps around the huge lamp-post which is located there are lit and musicians sing and dance around the tuLasî vR^indâvana. The Swamiji worships Sri Kartika Damodara for twelve days by twelve different names through this sacred plant.

utthâna dvâdashî

The twelfth day in the bright fortnight of kârtika is known as utthâna dvâdashî. On this day, Sri Vishnu, who has been "sleeping" since the shayanî eekâdashî day, is "woken up." From this day onwards, a series of festivals begin in Sri Krishna MaTha.

This is also the last day of the tuLasî pûjâ which has been performed for the past eleven days. The pûjâ which has been held in the night time is performed this morning after the mahâ pûjâ is over.


During the afternoon of the utthâna dvâdashî, the processional icon of Sri Krishna is taken out to the nicely decorated maNTapa in the middle of the Madhva-Sarovara. The ritual of pouring milk on the shâligrâma by the Swamiji takes place, and Sri Vishnu is woken up after his four months of yoga-nidrâ in the milky ocean. Flowers and fruits are offered and ârati is waved.

This section is due to Raymond Crawford. Much of the material comes from a book published for the 1984 paryâya of H.H. Sri Vishwesha Tîrtha Swamiji, by Bannanje Govindacharya, U.P. Upadhyaya, and Muralidhar Upadhyaya.


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Created May 23, 1996; last updated August 10, 2001.