We just returned from Katapady (our village in Udupi District) after witnessing the annual Ratha Utsav or "Teru" in Konkani language. This year it was from 19th Jan 2010 to 25th Jan 2010.
"Teru" is a very big event in the village for the GSB (Gowd Saraswath Brahmin) community and everybody looks forward for this festival.
It was a very interesting experience for me and since we were there from start to finish, I managed to take a few photographs (though not very great ! ) and decided to write about it. My husband helped me with the details.
This Utsav is annually held in the month of “Maagha” i.e. in the month of Jan/Feb from “Chavati” to “Dashami” – a total of seven days.
The 1st day is called “Ankuraarpan” which means offering seeds for germination to the God.
The 2nd day is called “Dhwaja-Aarohan” meaning, hoisting of the (Garuda) flag. On this day, all the activities (from morning to evening) in the
The activities begin in the morning (around 10.00 am) with the puja to the “Garuda Pratima” on the silver plaque which is hoisted on the Dhwaja-Sthambha (located in front of all the temples) accompanied by the beating of drums to variety of musical instruments.
People then gather for community service like cutting of vegetables, coconut scraping etc for preparing the “Annasantharpane” i.e. partaking of meals with the entire community – also called “Mahaprasad”. A light breakfast is served for all the volunteers involved in this activity.
My sister-in-law and I volunteered to cut vegetables. Immediately a huge pile of long beans (Aalsando or chowli) was dumped in front of us !!
We then enjoyed the breakfast consisting of Poha chutney, Sheera, Gulla Bajje and coffee. It was fantastic !!
Around 12.00 noon, Mahapuja and Mangal aarti are performed.
In the evening there is a ceremony called “Balipradan” which starts around 4.00pm. During this time, the silver “Pallaki” is decorated with fresh flowers of various kind and the “Utsava Moorti” is installed in the “Pallaki” and taken around (3 times) the temple courtyard accompanied by beating of drums and various musical instruments.
Decorated Silver Pallaki
Pallaki taken in procession
In the evening, (around 6.30 – 7.00 pm) the community meals ( Mahaprasad) is arranged on the ground adjacent to the temple. Meals are served on Plantain(Banana) leaves. The whole village people (approx. 1500) assemble for this event. Also called “Gaavn Jevan” in Konkani.
I came to know that during this entire period (7 days) of Ratha Utsav, no cooking is done at home in the whole village !!
At around 8.30 – 9.00 pm the “Utsava Moorti” is installed in the “Ratha” (a wooden chariot with four wheels) and is then pulled using two thick ropes and taken out from the temple premises on to the street upto the centre of the village (approx 1 km) and back again to the temple by all the devotees with great pomp and music and bhajans. This is called “Ratha Yatra”. This is followed by puja and mangal aarti in the temple.
This brings us to the end of the days’ activities.
Ratha Yatra, Annasantharpane and all other activites mentioned above takes place everyday for the next five days.
Brahma Ratha just before Ratha Aarohana
On Madhvanavami day a very big Ratha called “Brahma Ratha” is decorated with fresh flowers, fruits, vegetables and electrical lightings for a function called “Ratha Aarohana” which begins around 6.00 pm. This is a very special day as all the devotees from the nearby villages, towns and cities come in huge numbers to witness this great event.
On this day around 5000 people partake the meals (Mahaprasad) in batches of about one thousand persons per batch.
At around mid-night, this Brahma Ratha is pulled in the same path from the temple to the centre of the village and back.
This spectacular scene is worth waiting for and attending in person as the road/street is only as wide as the Ratha itself !
The following morning, the Dhwaja is lowered - this is called Dhwaja Avarohana (lowering of the flag) and that marks the end of the “Ratha Utsav” ceremony.