Temples of Karnataka - Udupi Sri Krishna Temple

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

The Udupi Sri Krishna temple located at 60 kms from Mangalore is one of the most popular shrines dedicated to Lord Krishna in the southern region of India. It was built in 13th century and the idol of Krishna was installed by the saint Madhvacharya. The deity’s idol is adorned with beautiful jewels.

It is believed that the idol of lord Krishna got covered with sandlewood in the city of Dwarka and this idol was carried by a mariner who took it for a sandlewood lump. When the ship was caught in a storm on the western coast of Malpe in the middle of the journey, Sri Madhvacharya pulled the ship out of storm with his saffron robe and calmed the sea storm through his divine powers. As a gesture of gratitude, Saint Mahdhvacharya asked the mariner for the sandalwood lump. When mariner gifted the sandalwood lump, the saint bathed the idol with water, purified it and installed it in the temple.

The famous legend about Kanakadasa says that Kanakadas, a staunch follower of lord Krishna visited the temple in the late 16th century but was not allowed to enter the temple as he belonged to a lower caste. When Kanakadasa prayed the lord Krishna, he was pleased with the devotion of Kanakadas and created a hole in the back wall of the temple and turned the idol so that he could see the idol. The same hole is now popularly known as the Kanakanakindi. There are many special poojas performed on Sri Krishna Janmashtami and the temple will be beautifully decorated with hymns sung in the praise of Lord.

The temple has many festivals and celebrations throughout the year. The Saptotsava or the seven Utsavas is the most important annual festival in Sri Krishna Temple. It starts 5 days prior to Makara Sankramana in the month of January and continues till Makara Sankramana. The sixth utsava takes place on the night of Makara Sankramana and also on the next day during daytime. Sri Madhwa Navami is celebrated in February in order to honour Sri Mdhwacharya who disappeared from the mortal sight in this month. The Holi Kamadahana is celebrated in March. In the evening the procession starts from Sri Krishna temple, proceeds up to Kadiyali and returns. In the night, an effigy of Kama is burnt in another procession. Smearing colored waters at each other mark holy celebrations in the next morning. In the month of April, Sri Rama Navami is celebrated with lot of special poojas.

During Mesha Sankramana, there will a chariot utsava and cradle pooja during daytime. The Vasanthotsava is the spring festival of the temple and continues for 2 months every night. During this festival, prasadam is distributed to the public. On Narasimha Jayanthi, special abhishekas and chariot utsavs are held. The Bharirathi Janmadina is marked by a special pooja in Bhagirathi gudi in the Madhwasarovar. There will be a car festival for Lord Krishna at night apart from Mantapa Pooja.

The period of Chaturmasa starts from the bright half Ekadashi of Ashada to the same day in Kartika Masa. During this period, a special abhisheka to the lord Krishna is performed everyday. On Ekadashi nights, Jagaranasevas are offered to the lord with programmes of instrumental music, dances and sankeertanas.

In the month of August or September, Sri Krishna Jayanthi is celebrated with special poojas and argyas to Sri Krishna. Lord is taken on a golden chariot around the car street on the occasion. On Anantha Chathurdhashi, special poojas are offered to Krishna. During Navarathri in October, the idol of Sri Krishna is decorated in the feminine form of Lakshmi.

On Deepavali or Balindra Pooja in the month of October or November, a pooja offering oil to Krishna is performed. The image of Bali, which is artistically drawn on the ground in front of the gopuram is also worshipped. There will be a large number of wick lamps are lighted.

On the day of Dwadhashi in the month of Kartika, Tulasi plant is offered night pooja apart from lighting one lakh wick lamps. Chariot Utsav is held on Subramanya shashti. During the month of Dhanu, every day special poojas are offered to the lord early in the morning along with offering pongal and many other sweets.

In Guru Samaradhana, the Paryaya Swamis celebrate the Aradhana or Death Anniversary of their immediate Gurus on a grand scale. The Paryaya festival is another biggest festival in Udupi. During this festival, new Paryaya swami is given the entire responsibility of conducting the customary poojas and festivals to lord Krishna for two years. This ceremony of handing over and taking over the charge of Sri Krishna Mutt is known as Paryaya.


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