Contentment has a new name: the palki utsav in Shirali

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The beautiful palki utsav at Shri Chitrapur Matha held on Kartik poornima each year

Trupti – a word I truly understood the meaning of when I attended the Palki Utsav held at Shri Chitrapur Matha in Shirali (Uttar Kannada) yesterday on the occasion of Kartik Poornima – which is celebrated with a lot of gaiety and pomp in most parts of southern India. In Shirali, which is the headquarters of Shri Chitrapur Saraswat Community Matha, the poornima of the Kartik month is an enormously special occasion for holding a deepotsav along with the palki utsav of Lord Bhavani Shankar, the aaradhyadevta of Chitrapur Saraswats.

The whole matha was decorated in bright lamps

The day started with prayers and a special offering to Lord Bhavani Shankar by the spiritual head of the Chitrapur Saraswat community – Param Poojya Swami Sadyojat Shankarashram. The sarovar (pond) at the centre of the matha is where this poojan is held every year on the Kartik Poornima day.

The august night of kartik poornima in November when the entire matha is lit up in bright lights and oil lamps

All through the day, the entire matha was echoing with the sounds of temple bells, neatly entwined with the chanting of shlokas, offerings of captivating bhajans and a mystical aura which was drawing devotees to their dear lord like iron filings to a magnet, lending the occasion a quiet freshness like a flower in bloom.

The aaradhyadevta of the Chitrapur Saraswat community, Lord Bhavani Shankar

The evening was equally enchanting with the palki (palanquin) of Lord Bhavani Shankar being taken by various bhat jis (poojaris or priests), who were chanting shlokas alongside, with men and women devotees singing the most melodious bhajans in the seva of Ma Bhavani and Lord Shankar, lending a mellifluousness to the night air of this beautiful town of Shirali in the northern part of Karnataka.

Nearby houses were all celebrating this occasion by lighting up their houses with oil lamps and electric lights

I participated in this four and a half-hour grand celebration and revelry – the palki utsav – which was a gratifying padayatra to various closeby temples where prayers were offered, with houses on the way offering aartis and prasad (drinks and ice cream as well to the weary yatris) on this blissful and august November night. Not only the entire matha and surrounding areas were lit up in beautiful oil lamps but every nearby house in the area was also lit up with colourful lights and diyas, quietly donning the auspiciousness of the hallowed palki utsav yatra. Occasionally, all throughout, devotees burst firecrackers, the fireworks adding to the moonlight effect of the full-moon night.

Houses lit up in oil lamps

When we came back to the temple with Lord Bhavani Shankar’s palki, it was that moment when an utter peace and contentment dawned on me and I understood what it meant to be blissful and trupt (a Sanskrit word for contentment) for the first time. People were joyous in this journey with Lord Bhavani Shankar, culminating into the Lord’s homecoming, singing bhajans for their dear aaradhyadevta.

Although my feet are still aching from last night, and it’ll take a day at least to recover from the exhaustion, my fingers are happily and incessantly typing to tell this tale of a journey ever so blissful and joyous as the Lord himself.

I would like to humbly dedicate this article to the Chitrapur Matha. May we be enlightened by the light of our gurus; India has a rich cultural and traditional heritage and our land has been blessed by many great men and thinkers who have enlightened our path.       

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