There’s no time like Udupi Paryaya Utsava to visit this temple town. As seers from the Asta Mathas prepare themselves for a change in temple management, the city itself is decked out in vibrant colors.
So, what is Paryaya Utsava? How is celebrated? Let’s find out answers to all your questions.
What is Udupi Paryaya
The Udupi Paryaya Utsava is a festival held every alternate year to mark the handover of temple responsibilities. Udupi has 8 mathas or religious institutions – Adamaru, Kaniyuru, Krishnapura, Palimaru, Pejavara, Puttige, Shirur and Sodhe. Together they are known as ‘Asthtamathas’.
The management of the Udupi Sri Krishna Temple is one of their shared responsibilities. Each matha looks after the running of the temple for a period of 2 years on a rotational basis.
The biennial system has been followed since 1522 when Sri Vadiraja Theertha Swami decided that the mathas would be responsible for the temple for a period of 2 years rather than 2 months as the trend was at the time.
Udupi Paryaya Utsava – The Order of Responsibilities
- Palimaru Matha
- Adamaru Matha
- Krishnapura Matha
- Puthige Matha
- Shiroor Matha
- Sodhe Matha
- Kaniyooru Matha
- Pejawara Matha
Udupi Paryaya – Legends
The story begins somewhere around the 13th century. A huge ship was being loaded with sandalwood logs to be transported from Dwarka, the kingdom of Lord Krishna. The sandalwood-loaded ship traveled a long distance and the journey was going very smooth.
Suddenly the sea waves started being fiercer every moment and the ship lost its way. The sailor, the sandalwood merchant and the helpers on the ship all feared for their life and started praying the lord of Dwarka to help them.
The Saint Madhvacharya
Here a saint named Madhvacharya was sleeping peacefully in his monastery in Udupi. He was suddenly awakened by a dream that told him to save the ship caught in the storm near the coast of Karnataka.
The holy saint taking it as an order from the Supreme Lord rushed towards the sea-shore. There he used his saffron robe as a flag to direct the ship towards the land. The ship reached the coast without damage. The merchant offered Madhvacharya to take anything from the ship as a thanking gift.
The saint initially refused the gift but on the merchant’s repeated request he said he will take two logs of sandalwood as a token gift.
It turned out that the two sandalwood logs were actually idols of Lord Krishna and his brother Balarama that were so much covered with sandalwood offered by the devotees that the merchant mistakenly took them as sandalwood logs.
The saint installed the statue of Balarama in a temple at Malpe Beach and brought the Krishna idol to install it in his monastery at Udupi.
According to the legends, the Supreme Lord himself came to live in Udupi at the request of Madhvacharya, one of the greatest saints and philosophers of Hinduism. This made Udupi Vaikuntha (lord’s abode) on Earth.
Udupi Paryaya Utsava – Celebrations And Rituals
The rituals associated with the Paryaya Utsava begin early in the morning and continue through the day. Most of the rituals are attended only by the priests. It begins with a holy dip in Dandatheertha for the priest taking charge at around 2 am.
Following a pooja, a procession is led at 3 am from Jodukatte to the Krishna Matha. Many of the hotels en-route allow the public to access their first and second floors to get a view of the procession.
The formal handover ceremony takes place inside the Krishna Matha at the Sarvajna Peetha. The ascending priest is given many items of importance including the shrine keys, pooja elements and the Akshaya Patra. A public ceremony is held later in the day at Rajagana.
Devotees are welcome to visit the temple and partake in delicious meals provided at the temple. In addition, the Rajangana fort also hosts several cultural shows in the late afternoons for 3-4 days.
Rituals Preceding The Paryaya
Rituals for the ascending priest begin a year in advance. These are symbolic of the rituals that have been part of the temple’s traditions. Banana or plantain saplings are planted in the Baale Muhurta to feed the devotees and cater to puja requirements.
This is followed by Akki Muhurta and Kattige Muhurta. This is the storing of rice in hay Mudis and firewood in the form of a ratha. These items will be used later to feed devotees who visit the temple in the 2 years after the priest takes charge of it.
Current Matha Responsible For The Sri Krishna Temple
From 2022 to 2024, Sri Vidyasagara Teertha Swamiji from the Krishnapura Matha is the Paryaya Peetha.
Udupi Paryaya Utsava – Things To Do
Watch the procession: If you are a morning person, you can get glimpse of the Paryaya procession passing through the streets and roads surrounding the Sri Krishna temple. The possession starts at 4 am.
Relish the temple lunch: Walk into the Sri Krishna temple anytime after 11 am and you can enjoy meals served by temple authorities. The meals are served every day, however, on the day of Udupi Paryaya Utsav, you can expect some lip-smacking vegetarian dishes.
Shopping: Shop at an extra discount while enjoying the street decorations.
The ritual or the responsibility passing ceremony is held on 18th January of every even year. So, it is going to be held with great pomp and show on 18th January 2018.