The importance of Paryaya Festival at Udupi in Karnataka

Karnataka is famous for festivals. Paryaya Festival is of historic importance and done at Udupi. The present resource describes it in the historical perspective along with rituals performed before and during this famous Festival.

Karnataka has a special place in the cultural history of India. The cultural heritage of classical music and folk dances is an outcome of historical contribution of diverse linguistic and religious ethnicities. Udupi, a town in the south-west of Karnataka, is a notable place for its religious fervour. This city is known for the famous Temple of Lord Krishna called Krishna Mutt which was founded in 13th century. The famous Paryaya Festival is held here with great pump and show every two years. The city has gained the status of a pilgrimage due to this historic temple.

The famous folklore:

There was a storm at sea at Malpe, which is a natural port about six kms to the west of Udupi. A saint by the name Shri Madhvacharya saw a ship in trouble during this storm. Realising the fate of the ship Vaishnavite saint helped it to reach the shores safely. Pleased with this act of kindness, the sailor of the ship gave Shri Madhvachrya deities of Lord Krishna and Lord Balarama. The saint did the installation ceremonies of both the deities. The deity of Lord Balarama was installed near Malpe and the temple is known as Vadabhandeshwara. The second enchanting deity of Lord Krishna was installed at Udupi and the temple there is known as Krishna Mutt.

The Mathas:

The puja and administration of the Krishna Mutt was handed over to 8 disciples by Shri Madhavacharya. Each one of these 8 disciples established their own Mathas around the Krishna Matt. These eight temples are called Ashta Mathas and they are Pejavara, Palimaru, Sodhe, Puttige, Adamaru, Kaniyooru, Shirur and Krishnapura.

Paryaya Festival:

Mutt management is done by each of the Ashta Mathas for two years by rotation. During a religious ritual, the Paryaya festival, the puja and Matt management s handed over to head of the next Matha, who is known as Swami. It is done on the early morning of18th January of every alternate year.
The preparation of this handing over starts a day earlier. As per tradition the Swamiji who has to take over, goes to Dandi Thirta to take a dip at the holy pond there and also does puja there. Swamiji enters Udupi around 3 A.M. and he is carried in palanquin along with cultural shows and plays. The procession starts from Jodukatte of the town and reaches Krishna Mutt. The Swamiji then enters the Mutt along with the outgoing Swamiji to take over the charge of the Mutt. This is followed by a formal durbar at Vasanta Mahal.

Other Rituals:

The following rituals are initiated one year before Paryaya by the ascending Swamiji. These rituals are done to ensure smooth running of Prayaya. These are:

Bale (Banana) Muhurtha:

First to be performed, about one year before Paryaya. Banana or plantain saplings are planted along with Tulsi (Basil)

Akki (Rice) Muhurtha:

Rice is stored in Mudi which is made up of hay. On that day nearly 48 Mudis are stored.

Kattige (Fire Wood) Mahurtha:

In this ritual the fire wood stored is used to cook prasada which is then distributed to devotees continuously.

Batha (Dried paddy) Mahurtha:

Batha is stored to meet future requirements inside the Krishna Mutt premises.
It is important that these rituals are done only on days considered to be auspicious.

Prayaya Festival of 2012:

This year Udupi Prayaya festival will be held on January 18. New Swami Sri Vishwavallabha Thirtha Swamiji of Sode Vadiraja Mutt will take charge of the Krishna Temple and ascend 'Paryaya Peeta'. The present Swamiji Sri Laxmivara Thirtha Swamiji of Shiroor Mutt will hand over to the new Swamiji who will perform his Paryaya for next two years.


This formal system of handing over management of Krishna Temple for over 700 years has slowly taken the shape of a Festival which speaks high about the traditions transcendence in Karnataka State.


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