In Karkala Sri Venkataramana Temple, there are many festivals celebrated along with the previously mentioned “Panchaparva”s. There are also some very important festivals, viz, ”Mahotsava”s, celebrated in the twelve months of hindu calendar along with some culturally celebrated festivals. Amongst these, Rathotsava , celebrated from vaishaka shuddh bidige to vaishaka shuddh shashti is as popular and grandly-celebrated as Lakshadeepotsava.
Rathotsava(Annual Car Festival)
There is no proper date in the history of Karkala Sri Venkataramana Temple as to when exactly the celebration of Rathotsava came into picture. But it strikes to us that , somewhere around 1827 A.D. , the Brahmaratha was structured. A temple should have a Dhwajasthamba in order to host Dhwajarohana, at the start of Rathotsava. It comes to our knowledge that only after 1785 A.D. , the Rathotsava had started.
This is the festival where in most of the G.S.B community people gather and whole-heartedly serve the lord almighty in various forms to get blessed by the lord. It’s a 6-day festival and each day has its own importance. The sixth day, “Avabratha Snana” (okulli) is celebrated as the end of a grand success.
It is celebrated on chaitra shuddh navami as per hindu calendar to salute the divine birth of Lord Sri Ramachandra. This day, Bhoori Samaradan from Naravi Raya Kini family, followed by Sanna-Ratha Utsava and Vasanth Pooja , which is a seva from the devotee, lawyer Vasudeva Kamth.
The devotees of sri lord in karkala see this festival as an equivalent to Rathotsava and Lakshadeepthsava. This is a most divine day since lord Srinivasa will be given a Shathakalabhishek.
During the Madhyana Pooja the lord will be adorned by what is called Yajnopavitha (sacred thread). The G.S.B. community’s every married men and brahmachari s gather in the temple to change their Yajnopavitha from their respective priests. The brahmadand provided by the priest during the time of brahmopadesham will be planted in the Tulasi seat.
It is the divine birth of Lord Sri Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu. This day , temple doors will be closed at about 11:30 a.m. Madhyana Puja will be offered to lord in the evening , in between, 4 p.m to 6 p.m. During this time, lord will also be given the Rajopachara Puja(Divtige Salaam)followed by Raatri puja in the presence of Joishy, Puraniks, Prabhu and Kamath. After the Mangala Aarthi, Sri Venkataraman Swamy will be seated on the siver Sheshavahana .There will be a Panchamarutha abhisheka for the saligram. In addition to this, the devotees seated on the Chandra saale , offer tulasi dhala in thousands while reciting the divine “Sri Vishnu Sahasranaamavali”. Some devotees practice the same in their households.
Ganesha Chathurthi-Bhadrapada Shuddha Chaturthi
This day, lord Ganapthy, wearing the siver kavacha, will be worshipped on the vasanth saale inside the temple. In the next five days Ganahoma, Ranga puja, Mooduganapthi and like sevas will be offered to lord Ganesha. Fifth day, visarjana puja will take place. On this occasion the laddos offered as naivaidya to lord Ganesha will be distributed among the thousands visiting the temple that day.
Anantha Vratha –Bhadrapada Shuddha Chaturdhashi
Early morning , ananth dhara (golden thread with 14 granthis) along with saligrama placed in samputa with mukhyaprana and golden kalasha will be taken to Ram Samudra in palenquien. After the Yamuna puja , with all the other puja customs, they return back to the temple. Bhoori samaradane conducted that night will be having a very delicious and most special dish, viz, alvathi.
There won’t be any festivals conducted by the temple in mahalaya. There will be guru puja and brahmarpana followed by Brahmana Santharpana which will be taken care by the then paryaya priest.
On the day of vijaya dashami , that is, on ashwij shukla dashami , harinarayana and pashima jaagar sevas will start. This will conclude on karthik shuddh ekadashi.
After finishing the Raathri puja, specially written songs praising the lord will be sung by Bhagawat which will be repeated by other devotees along with the words ”Harinarayana-Harinarayana” . There will be five rounds of the same . On Karthika shuddha pratipade , after the fourth round of pradakshina , one round of harinarayana will be taken around the dhwajasthamba and deepasthamba.
Early morning ( Brahmi muhrth) , Sri Kashimata’s swamijis photo will be placed in manna gopura and bhajans from the devotees will start , till temple. After reaching the temple, the devotees sitting down wait for the temple dwaar to open. Once the door opens, bajan will stop and suprabath will start. After the morning puja, again will bajan will start. This includes “Hari Mukhe Manha”, which will be sung standing in between the four pillars. As a custom, Go-puja , will also take place everyday.
This is a part of chaturmasa vrata karthika maasa celebrations. Usually , this will be held on the last Sunday of Paschim jaagar. The lord will be dressed most beautifully with varieties of flowers on this day and within the temple premises, even inside the temple, all the artificial light sources will be dimmed off and we get to see the lord only in the bright lights coming from thousands of mudpots. In the outer side, rangloli, sculptures, crafts depicting the historical significance can be seen. During this occasion, the devotees, (normally seven to eight thousand people) will queue up to see the lord. They will be given a special ladoo and fruits as Prasad.
Ekaha Bhajan– Karthik shuddh ekadashi
After dwara puja , along with many other devotees the joishy, puraniks, prabhus and kamaths get a well-decorated lamp on the garuda mantapa. Beneath lord’s foot they place epics like Ramayana and the like. After the aarthi , the lamp will be lightened with the same aarthi and thus starting the one-day continuous Bhajan program. Almost 35 bhajana mandali(team) are expected every year and the number is increasing as years pass. The Ekaha Bhajan was originally started 75 years ago by Karkala Sridhar Pai, which is continued by his son Ranganath Sridhar Pai and his sons.
Since 40 years, Karkala Sri Venkataramana Bhajana Mandali is actively volunteering in this program to make it a grand success. The Brahmana Santarpan, following this day , is a seva from the host mandali. Since 12 years Sri Venkataramana Bhajana Mandali conducts a bhajana seva inside the temple every evening for about one hour without a miss.
Three days from the day of Naraka-chaturdashi , we can see Balindra on the main entrance of the temple. On the day of Balipadya, the flag which contains Bali sitting on top of the elephant will be hoisted on Dhwajasthamba. After the raatri puja the Prasad which was offered as naivaidhya to the lord will be distributed to the present devotees.
Jaagar Puja will also be conducted on naraka-chaturdashi.
Mukkoti Dwadashi(Margashira Shuddh Dwadashi)
After the early morning puja, lord presides to Ram samudra in silver mantap. After returning, milk,fruits,kashaya will be offered to lord as naivaidhya . Madhyana puja will be followed by samaradane. In the night, procession begins with lord seating on the chariot, followed by Keredeepa in Sheshatheertha(temple lake colony).
Rathasapthami(Magha Shuddh Saptami)
This morning, lord presides to the temple lake colony in the palanquien. On the Tulasi seat here, lord will be offered abhishekha. This will be followed by a procession of the lord in silver chariot. Again in the night , silver chariot utsava will be held.