Vittalapindi Mahotsava in Udupi Sri Krishna Temple
Sri Krishna Leelotsava festival, popularly called as “Vittal Pindi”, in Udupi. Mosaru Kudike is one of the major attractions of Vittal Pindi.
Vittal Pindi is one of the major festivals in Udupi, which houses the 800-year-old Sri Krishna Math. It was in this temple that the exponent of Dwaita philosophy Sri Madhwacharya installed the beautiful idol of Lord Balakrishna (Lord Krishna as a boy) holding a churning rod in one hand and a rope in the other.
“Vittal” is derived from the word “Vittala” which is Lord Krishna’s childhood name. “Pindi” is derived from the word “Banda”, which means earthen pot containing milk, curds, butter, and so on. According to the Dewan of Paryaya Shiroor Math, Latavya Acharya, Lord Krishna in his childhood days was known to break earthen-pots containing milk, butter, and curds. With the passage of time, “Vittala Banda” must have come to be known as “Vittal Pindi”. Vittal Pindi is celebrated the very next day after Sri Krishna Janmashtami or Sri Krishna Jayanti. The celebrations of Vittal Pindi are attractive and popular with the people of the city.
A large number of devotees from different parts of the State gather in front of the Sri Krishna Math/Temple to participate in the Vittal Pindi festivities. The Vittal Pindi procession starts normally at 3 p.m. from the entrance of Sri Krishna Temple. A special idol of Lord Krishna made of clay is taken out during the procession in the golden chariot on the Car Street.
Many earthen pots filled with milk, butter, and curds are hanged over 15 specially built wooden “gopuras” at regular points on the route of the procession. As the chariot is about to reach a wooden “gopura,” men dressed up as Yadavas jostle and vie with one another to break open these earthen pots. It is only after breaking the earthen pots at each gopura that the procession moves further.
According to the Director of the Sri Vadiraja Research Foundation, D. Gopalacharya: “As a child, Lord Krishna used to climb on his friend’s shoulders and reach the earthen pots filled with milk products in the Gokula. He used to break these pots and have the butter or curd. It is to mark this prank of Lord Krishna that Mosaru Kudike is celebrated,” he says.
The process of breaking these mud pots is a joy to watch for the devotees. They cheer those in the guise of the “Yadavas” to break the pots. Persons in “huli vesha” and other mythological and religious costumes dance in front of the chariot and add to the splendour of the occasion. According to Mr. Gopalacharya, “Unlike others, this festival is celebrated in true folk style. The Mosaru Kudike and Huli Vesha testify it”.
The Paryaya Swamiji and other swamijis of the Ashta Maths offer ladoos and chakkulis to the devotees during the procession. There is a competition among the devotees to catch these ladoos and chakkulis, which is a delight to watch.
As the procession nears the “Kanaka Gopura,” there is another challenge for the participants in the procession. They compete with one another to climb a 60-feet tall areca palm especially installed near the Kanaka Gopura.
At the top of the areca palm, a money bag and some food items are tied. The way to the top is made greasy making it a challenge for the participants to climb up the palm. The persons who reach the top are given prizes. Sometimes this competition is held earlier.
The Vittal Pindi procession culminates at the entrance of the Sri Krishna Math. Then the clay idol of Lord Krishna is removed from the chariot and taken to “Madhwa Sarovara” pond where it is immersed marking the end of the Vittal Pindi festival.
According to the principal of SMSP Sanskrit College, H.K. Sureshacharya: “It is only during Vittal Pindi that the ‘utsavamurthy’ (idol taken in procession) is made of clay. During the other festivals, the ‘utsavamurti’ made of silver, or ‘panchaloha’ metal is used”.