Day 1 – Festival preparations and celebrations can be read here.
Welcome Day 2! Shri Krishna mutt is the centre of attraction in Udupi during the Janmashtami celebrations. Special pooja is held inside the temple and thousands of devotees make a beeline for the darshan. So, a short account of the actual celebrations on the Janmashtami day and the feel of the road when the procession started, would be the next point of interest.
The morning was quite relaxed with the pooja done and the people gearing up for the main event at the ratha beedi. The important events on the second day had to be the procession of the golden chariot with the utsava moorthi in it, vitla pindi (similar to dahi handi performed in Mumbai) and hulivesha (artists with their bodies painted and decked with headgears like the tiger). People converge from all over to participate and view these events in the ratha beedi, which takes place with great vigour.
The Krishna mutt pooja in the morning, anna daanam or the prasadam distribution to all those devotees who visit the mutt is a grand affair. Devotees queue up and happily enjoy the meal. It was around 2.30 pm that the event started once the puja was completed in the Krishna mutt and the utsava moorthi (procession idol) was brought to the chariot and taken in a jubilant procession.
Within a matter of a few minutes, the street which was until then quite relaxed was completely taken over by the crowd. Though initially, I had decided to shoot the pictures from one of the hotel galleries, the greed of getting portrait images lured me into the crowd. The experience was one of a kind. I believe I was the only female photographer in the entire crowd!
Devotees draw the golden chariot in procession, I must admit that the crowd behaviour was amazingly very dignified. Even as I was getting used to the ever-growing crowd, loud chants in praise of the lord were heard close by, with the electrifying drum beats right in front of the chariot, the hulivesha performers took to the street and there was no way I could get out of the crowd and head towards the hotel!
Thousands of devotees leading the procession, the golden chariot decked up and inching forward, the drummers spiritedly beating the drums, Hulivesha performers showing off their act, veshadharis (various artists in their best get-up of the mythological characters) mingling in the crowd and entertaining them, emotional devotees still chanting the mantras – made for a never-to-forget scene. The birth of Lord Krishna was celebrated with great vigour.
The entire ratha beedi covered with thousands of visitors is a sight to behold. As the crowd thinned it was time to shift to the next place of action. It is a popular tradition in Udupi that the hulivesha troupes perform at certain residences and get rewarded handsomely for their performance. And we were lucky to watch one such troupe perform at my friend’s place. Highly energetic and upbeat troupe of drummers and the hulivesha performers arrived and kept us completely enthralled for about an hour in the evening.
The joy of joining the troupe and learning a few steps of the act was the best part of the evening. Janmashtami celebrations were never this good previously. With utmost gratitude, I acknowledge the hospitality and warmth extended by Suma Satish and her entire family and giving me an opportunity to have a wholesome experience of this resplendent festival.