Sunday, September 23, 2012


Dear Readers,

Victory of good over evil is the one theme that features in most of our festivals. But, this idea is expressed in its most clearest form only during the festival of Dussera. The 10 day festival signifying the 10 days that the Goddess took to fight and slay the demon Mahishasura, is the most eloberate celeberation of the victory of good over evil. The culmination of the festival is on the 10th day when the demon Mahishasura was slayed by Goddess Durga, thus defeating evil and protecting the good.

The festival of Dussera starts from 16th October 2012.

There is no other place to experience the grandeur of Durga-Puja than in Kolkata. It can be said that what Ganesh Chaturthi is for the city for Mumbai, so is Durga-Puja or Pujo for Kolkata. And as they say, there is no seperating a Bengali from his fish and there is no seperating Kolkata from Pujo.

In fact, according to one widely held opinion, the city gets its name from Kalikata which is a corrupted form of the word Kali-Kshetra, which means “Place of Kali”. Such is the association of the city with its goddess and passionate celeberation of the festival by its people only reflects this fact.

The celeberations start on the day of Mahalaya which generally falls during September-October and ends with Bijoya (Vijaya)- Dashami on the 10th day from Mahalaya. During these 10 days the Goddess is invoked in her various forms. For the native Bengali, the day starts with the rendition of Mahishamardini by Birendra Krishna Bhadra, which is broadcast on the All India Radio every morning during the festival days. You can find an MP3 version of the song here. This is followed by completing all the morning chores and ritualistic puja for the Devi Maa. Here is a nice writeup of the celeberations of Durga-Puja.

On the day of MahaShashti which is the 6th day from Mahalaya, grand idols are erected in almost every locality in Kolkata and this marks the begining of Sarbojanin (public) Durga Puja which lasts for the next four days. It is the evenings which are more colourful and energetic. People go to visit various Pandals or stages where the Sarbojanin Durgotsav is organised. The pandals themselves are majestic constructions which are the outcome of generous donations collected by the organisers from the general public. Each pandal vies with the others for popularity and their eloberate constructions and artistic work are testimony to the healthy competition between the organisers and the passion of the Bengali public. The people visit various pandals during the 5 days of the festival starting from MahaShashti to BijoyaDashami and spend their time outdoors well into the midnight. Pandal-hopping is the favourite pastime of the Bengalis during Durga-Puja and there is enough on the palette for the next 4 days. On the 10th day of the festival of VijayaDashami, also known as Bijoya, a grand farewell is given to Maa Durga and the idols of the Goddess are immersed in nearby lakes and the river Ganga. The ritual is known as Bishorjon.

History of Pujo :

Following is just one of the many opinions about the origins of the Sarbojanin Durgosav.

The first eloberate Durga-Puja is supposed to have been arranged at Shovabazar Rajbari in the year 1757 by the then Maharaja Nabakrishna Deb Bahadur in his palace. It was a private affair which was attended by affluent Bengali families and people from the then British raj. More details can be found here.

Soon the practice spread and many other rich and princely Bengali families began to organise Durga-Pujas, but they were still largely private affairs. Around the 1920s groups of people began to organise Durga-Puja for the general public where anyone could come and participate and pay their obseince to the Mother Goddess. These are known as the Sarbojanin Durga-Pujas. The Baghbazar Sarbojanin Durgotsav and Exhibition is one of the oldest of such celeberations which traces its origins from the year 1919. You can find more information here and here

Presently the practice of organising Sarbojanin Durgotsav has spread to such an extent that you will find thousands of Durgotsavs in Kolkata alone. The celeberations elsewhere in West Bengal and among the Bengali Diaspora throughout the world too are popular.

Kumartuli : The Artisans' Village

As the popularity of the Durgotsav increased, the fame of the idol makers of Kumortuli also increased. It is from the area of Kumortuli, that the idols which adorn the various pandals come from. So popular are the idols that nowadays there is an increased demand of idols made by the Kumortuli artisans elsewhere in India and even abroad. The preparation of the idols starts on the day of the Rath Yatra of Puri. Clay from the Ganga river is brought and the idol preparation starts. The preparation is completed on the day of the Mahalaya with the ritualistic painting of the eyes of the Goddess, called Chokku-Daan. You can find a photostream of the making of the idols in Kumortuli here. A short note on the idol makers of Kumortuli can be found here.

You can watch a short video of a typical process of making the idol here
Travel Tips :
So if you plan to visit Kolkata during Durga-Puja then it is the evenings and nights that you have to watch out for. Start at twilight and hop, hop, hop till you drop. Take it for granted that Kolkata, which truly transforms into the “City of Joy”, will not let you get bored for the 5 days starting from Mahashashti to Bijoya. The pandals themselves are majestic and beautiful constructions which will leave you amazed and the various public performances and drama enactments at many of the pandals are enthralling still. Here is a list of some of the pandals which are sure to leave you speechless.
Better still, you can visit Kumortuli and get a real-life glimpse into the world of the artisans.
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You can take a guided walking-tour into Kumartoli area by registering on this site.
There is no festival without its special cuisine and Bengali cuisine needs no new introduction. 
You can find recipes for some special dishes for Pujo here and here.
Dussera is a festival which is celeberated throughout India in different ways. In this post we have had a glimpse into the celeberations of Durga-Puja in Kolkata. Wait for future posts to know about celeberation in different parts of India. Till then lets welcome Maa Durga with the well known slogan “Jai Kali Kalkatte Wali”. Bye!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ganesh Chaturthi

Dear Readers,

Let's start by stating the famous Murphy's Law. “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” So, if that is the case, pray what is the way out of all the things that may go wrong and play havoc with our simple lives?

Well, that's why Lord Ganesh is the most beloved of all the Gods. For he is the one who removes obstacles. Who doesn't want a smooth ride and when Ganapati is there to remove all the obstacles, what has one to fear? The fourth day of the month of Bhadrapada as per the Hindu calendar is celebrated as Ganesh Chaturthi, the most colourful festivals of India. It is one of the most popular festivals of India, celebrated all over the country to get the blessings of the Lord who is the destroyer of all obstacles.

The festival falls on the 19th of September 2012.

The festival which is most popular in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is celebrated for 9 days starting from the fourth day of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. On the 10th day the idols of Ganesh are immersed in water in a ritual called visarjan or nimajjanam.

The preparation of the idols of Ganapati starts well over 3 months in advance. About a month in advance the stage where the idol is to be installed is prepared. All through the 9 days the festival is celebrated as a community affair and is most popular in Maharashtra, particularly Mumbai where practically every locality has a committee which organises the festival. Large idols of Ganapati are installed in community squares and throughout the 9 days a festive spirit is maintained with devotional songs, competitions for kids and sweets and savouries being distributed.

The festival was not always a public affair and in the earlier days it was celebrated in a homely manner. But, in the year 1894, during the days of British Raj in India, 
Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak hit upon the idea of a community or Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav in what is considered as a socio-political masterstroke to unite the Indian masses. 

Very soon the idea spread and offshoots appeared in other neighbouring states too. The concept worked and it seems is still a success, going by the increasing populairty of the festival even today. Maybe it is because of such origins of the community festival, that generally the themes of the festival depict current affairs and social issues.

Each locality vies to celebrate the festival with all imaginable grandeur and the pandals which are constructed for the idol of Ganesh are eloborately beautiful constructions. And on the 10th day, the idols of Ganapati or Vinayak, as the Lord is also known, are led in a grand procession befitting a king, through the streets of the city for immersion in the sea. Throughout the procession the people ask Lord Ganesh to return next year with slogans of “Ganapati Bappa Morya Pudhachya Varshi Laukar Ya”.

Ganesha Photostream
For an interesting photostream of Ganesh festival in Hyderabad visit here. Photo courtesy Flickr user Praveen Verma. 

For a photostream of Ganesh Utsav in Mumbai visit here. Photostream courtesy Flickr user Anupama Kinagi.

One of the most popular of the Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsavs in Mumbai is held in the area of Lalbagh where the Lord also known as the Lalbaugcha-raja is revered with great fanfare and grandeur. You can visit this site to know more about the details of the committee. Also there is an interesting site here where you can see the photos of Lalbaghcha-raja all the way from the begining of the committee in 1934.

Surprisingly, even though the festival is most popular in Mumbai, the tallest of the Ganesh idols is not in Mumbai. The tallest Ganesh idol which averages to about 50ft year after year is installed in Khairatabad area of Hyderabad. You can know more about Khairatabad Ganesh here

So, this Ganesh festival you can go to the city of Mumbai to witness the festival in its full glory or visit the city of Hyderabad where the festival is celebrated on par with the city of Mumbai. If you do then do make it a point to visit the Khairatabad Ganesh which this year too may well be over 50ft.

Ganesh Puja at Home
For those of you who want to celebrate the festival at home,you can find a nice pdf file on the procedure of ganesh puja here. Also, it is customary to recite the story of Lord Ganapati's birth and legends associated with him, especially the story of syamantaka mani, which you can find here.

Hail the Eco-Ganesha
Generally the idols of Ganesh are made out of Plaster of Paris. Over the years, the en-masse immersion of the idols has led to pollution of our water bodies to the detriment of all. Hence, a great emphasis is now laid on using Eco-friendly Ganesh idols for the festival. Here is one such site where details of eco-ganesha idols are given for the residents of Mumbai. So, if you are in Mumbai and want to celebrate with an eco-ganesha then visit the site for more details on how to get yours.

Here is another site which gives details of Eco-ganesha suppliers in various cities. So, go ahead and get you Eco-friendly Ganesh for this year's Ganesh Chaturthi. Believe me, the Lord will like it too.

Here are some links for recipes of sweets and savouries generally prepared during the festival.

Hope you enjoy Ganesh Chaturthi and may the lord destroy all obstacles in your life and give you a smooth ride. Bye for now!!

Monday, June 25, 2012


Dear Readers,

Every festival brings with it, a flavour unique to the festival. So if Ramanavami was predominantly the day of observation and introspection, then Krishnashtami or Janmashtami is the day of gaiety and celebration, albeit with a relegious tinge. This maybe because the life of Lord Krishna is the most eventful and filled with variety amongst all of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

The festival falls in the months of August-September. This year it falls on 10-Aug-2012. Generally the festival includes fasting till midnight when Lord Krishna is believed to have been born followed by a big feast. The next day witnesses grand celebrations in places like Mathura, Vrindavan and Dwarka which are places associated with Krishna's life and times.

In Mathura a grand puja is performed in the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple which is considered as the exact location where Krishna was born. In the sanctum-sanctorum of the temple the idol of Shri Krishna is worshipped and the whole city is immersed in festivities.

Some highlights of the festivities are Raas-Leela performances which is a dance performance depicting the dance of the Gopis of Vrindavan with Lord Krishna. These performances are held in Mathura and many parts of north India. Please find the following video footage of one such performance.

Video courtesy Abhinava Dance Academy.
Various stages of Krishna's life are depicted in the form of Tableaus or Jhankis in Mathura. These are very colourful affairs and also very engaging. Following are some Pictures of  Jhankis. Pic1, Pic2, Pic3. Photos courtesy
Also in Mathura many houses install swings or Jhulas to welcome Lord Krishna. This is known as the Jhulanotsav. The swings are decorated nicely with flowers and look very appealing.
The celebration of Janmashtami also includes a month long Ghata celebration. This includes decorating all the temples in Mathura in colours of the same theme. Even all the houses and the idol of Krishna in the temple are decorated in the same colours.
The festival also includes the Dahi-Handi Event which although is performed in many parts of India, is most famous in Mumbai. A group of youngsters form a human-pyramid and their target is to break a clay-pot filled with curd or butter hung high above the ground.
This event is at once a sport and also a depiction of the ways in which child Krishna would steal butter from the houses of Vrindhavan and create mischief. There are various groups in Mumbai and Maharashtra which participate in this event and are called Govinda-Pathaks. The event of Dahi-Handi is considered a sport with the human-pyramids growing taller and taller with each coming year. It is not an easy task considering the fact that to build a tall human-pyramid itself is challenging. On top of that the group is not given an easy ride. The onlookers and ladies throw water on the participants to distract them and to prevent them from breaking the pot. Overcoming these hurdles the Govinda-Pathaks manage to achieve their goal. The whole event is very thrilling and enjoyable for the participants as well as the onlookers. The whole community is entertained. Many Govinda-Pathak groups take pride in the celebrtions and there are prizes and trophies to be won in the event. Click here for a nice photo gallery of one such celebration. Photos courtesy Anupama Kinagi.
In the temple town of Udupi in Karnataka, the festivities start at midnight with the Arghyapradanam by the priest in which the pontiffs of all the eight mutts which take care of the temple participate. Then a clay idol of Udupi Sri Krishna, prepared specially for Krishnashtami is taken as a procession on the streets of the town. Clay pots filled with Butter or Milk are hung at several places and youngsters dressed as Gopas break the pots as the procession passes through. The seers then distribute the butter to the devotees. People dressed as tigers perform a tiger dance called Huli Vesha. At the end of the procession the idol of Krishna is immersed in the Madhwa Sarovara. Click here for some photos of the festival. Photos courtesy Akshath. You can view more photos with an article here. Courtesy
In the southern parts of India, Krishnashtami is generally a homely affair which includes puja and prayers. In some houses dolls are arranged depicting the life and times of Krishna. Friends and relatives are invited and bhajans and songs are sung in the praise of Lord Krishna. Various fruits and delicacies are offered to the Lord on this day.
Travel Tips   Places to be during Krishnashtami are in Mathura to witness the various public Raas-Leela performances as also the Jhankis and other drama performances from the various stages of Lord Krishna's lifetime. Following is the map showing a search for accomodation in Mathura. View Larger Map  Or wittness the Vittal Pindi celebration in Udupi, Karnataka.
Udupi can be reached from Bangalore or Mangalore by bus but Mangalore is the nearest city to Udupi. Following is the map showing the search results for accomodation in Udupi.
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If you are more sportive minded and would like to see some adventure then head over to Mumbai where practically every locality will be holding a Dahi-Handi event which will certainly make for a thrilling experience.
For those who would like to spend the day in their homes, click here for some recipes of Krishnashtami delicacies to make your day.
Hope you enjoy the festival. Bye for now!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Puri Rath Yatra

Dear Readers,

The word Juggernaut is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as :
a massive inexorable force, campaign, movement, or object that crushes whatever is in its path

The word is an anglicised version of the Sanskrit word Jagannath which literally means Lord of the World. The word came into existence during the British Raj when they witnessed the annual Rath Yatra of Puri, Orissa and were dumbstruck by the sheer size oF the Raths or chariots which were used in the Rath Yatra and how, once they started to move, it was difficult to stop them.

In due course of time the word Jagannath was anglicised to Juggernaut which now means any force that is unstoppable and merciless.

So, in order to learn more about this “Juggernautic” experience which gave rise to a whole new term in the english language we must now bring our language class to an end and turn our attention to the Rath Yatra of Puri Jagannath.

There are different kinds of festivals in this world. But in terms of the sheer size of the equipment used and the teeming mass of humanity that comes to partake and participate in the event, there is no equal to the festival of Rath Yatra of Puri Jagannath. It is not possible to even give a glimpse of the actual event in a simple article like this. Let's just say that if you ever decide to go on tour to witness the most notable things the worldover, then this event is a must. So, folks, do include this in your Bucket-List if you ever make one and I will only try to give a humble overview of the happenings of the event in this article.

The Rath Yatra of Puri Jagannath is held in the month of Aashad of the Hindu lunar calender which coincides with the months of June-July. This year the Rath Yatra of Puri Jagannath will be held on 21 June 2012.

The preparations however start 58 days before the event. That is when the wood cut from the special trees in the distant Daspalla forests are brought to Puri and the construction of the chariots begins. The chariots when finished would easily occupy a space of approx. 40 sq ft.

On the day of the Rath Yatra of Puri Jagannath, the beautifully decorated idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Sudarshana are carried one by one, by the volunteers and the Daitapatis to their respective chariots in the spectacular event called Pahandi.

After the idols are placed on their respective chariots, there is a riutal sweeping of chariots which is performed by the descendant of the Gajapati Kings of Puri. More about the Gajapatis in this wikipedia article. Then scented water is sprinkled all over the chariots. Then starts the day long Rath Yatra of Puri Jagannath. This is the only time of the year that non-hindus and foreigners who are otherwise not allowed inside the temple can get a glimpse of the dieties.

The Rath Yatra of Puri Jagannath is unique in another respect too. Generally in any procession of dieties associated with a temple, the statues utilised are specially made for such processions and are called Utsava Murtis. But, in Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra, the actual statues of dieties from the the sanctum-sanctorum of the temple are used in the procession. Hence from the start of Rath Yatra till the time the dieties do not return back to the temple, there is no statue inside the temple for worship.

Each chariot is tied with 4 robust ropes made of coconut fibres. One by one the chariots are pulled by the lakhs of men and women who come to Puri Jagannath to participate in the Rath Yatra. It is believed that volunteering to pull the chariot of Lord Jagannath washes away all our sins and liberates us from the cycle of birth and rebirth. First comes the charitot of Lord Balabhadra which is known as Taladhwaja followed by the chariot of Devi Subhadra known as Darpadalana and finally the chariot of Lord Jagannath, the magnificent Nandighosa. The procession is accompanied with various music and dance perfomances.

Following is a short video footage of the Rath Yatra so that you get a glimpse of the event :

For more details of the chariots used visit here

All three chariots are pulled from the Shrimandir to Gundicha Mandir, covering a distance of 3km. The chariots reach the Gundicha Mandir by the evening of the day and then the dieties stay in the Gundicha Mandir for 7 days.

At the end of 7 Days the dieties are brought back to the Shrimandir in another procession called the Bahuda Yatra.

Mythology :

It is believed that Krishna was killed by a poisonous arrow fired by a hunter accidentally. After the death of Krishna the last rites were performed as per the relegious practices and his mortal remains were immersed in water.

It is said that King Indradyumna who ruled Puri dreamt that the mortal remains of Krishna will float to Puri's shores. As envisioned in his dream, the next day the mortal remains of Krishna floated to Puri. Indradyumna was instructed to build a temple in Puri for Lord Jagannath , Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra and install the mortal remains of Krishna in the hollow of the statue.

Now, the question was, who was to construct the statues? An old carpenter agreed for the job , but on one condition. He should not be disturbed till completion of the job. The king agreed to the condition.

For months the doors of the temple remained closed with no word of progress. Only sounds could be heard of working with wood.

All of us remember the adage “Curiosity Kills the Cat”. Well, king Indradyumna became impatient day by day until one day, unable to hold himself back, he opened the doors to see just what was the old man doing inside for so long? And Lo, the carpenter vanished with half completed idols of the three dieties in the santum sanctorum. It was then the king realised that the old carpenter was none other than the divine architect Vishwakarma. The King installed the dieties in the temple in their half completed form and they remain so to this day.

It is said that the ceremony of Rath Yatra also was started in Indradyumna's reign by his queen Rani Gundicha.

Every year the chariots are newly built for the Rath Yatra. The massive task of building the chariots is completed within a span of just 58 days starting from the day of Akshaya Tritiya which occurs in the month of April-May.

Also every 12 years the Idols are also changed and new idols are built from wood cut from special trees. The new idols are also in the same incomplete form. This ceremony of changing idols is called Naba Kalebara.

Travel Advice :

If you want to visit Puri during the Rath Yatra, make your accomodation arrangements well in advance. Due to the sheer number of people attending the event from all over the country and abroad, last minute preparations are definitely not possible. This year the Rath Yatra of Puri Jagannath will be held on 21 June 2012. Following is a search of hotels in puri :

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Puri is accessible from most Indian cities by a well connected network of trains. The nearest airport to Puri is at Bhubaneshwar, the capital city of the Indian state of Orissa. From Bhubaneshwar to Puri the distance is about 60km. In case you don't find any accomodation in Puri, the next best thing to do is to stay at Bhubaneshwar and then drive down to Puri for the event.

Following is a search of hotels in Bhubaneshwar :

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Following is a map showing the directions from Bhubaneshwar to Puri : 

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This page at wikitravel also gives some valuble advice for travel to Puri and also lists some other attractions in and around the temple town.

That's all for now. I will meet again with another interesting festival at the earliest. Bye!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rama Navami

Dear Readers,

Eons ago, on the ninth day of the month of Chaitra according to the Hindu Lunar calendar, the eldest son to King Dasaratha of Ayodhya was born. That child's name was Rama. It is said that he was the incarnation of Lord Vishnu himself.

As Rama grew up he became known as an ideal person. He was an ideal son to his father Dasaratha, an ideal student to his teachers, an ideal brother, an ideal husband and an ideal King. All in all he was a perfect person whose way of living is regarded as a standard and to this day he is remembered for the ideals he set.

Although all devout Hindus regard Rama as an incarnation of the Almighty Vishnu, he is remembered mainly for the ideals he practiced and the standards of living that he set.

Hence, Rama Navami, which falls on the ninth day of the month of Chaitra according to the Hindu Lunar calendar, is mainly celebrated as a day of contemplation and reflection on how to lead an ideal life.

In the northern parts of India the day is celebrated by conducting satsangs where the Ramcharitmanas and other versions of the Ramayana are recited interspersed with interpretations by the storyteller.

 The other ancient scriptures and philosophical texts of India are referred during the satsang to emphasise on the ideals of Rama. What is interesting about these affairs? Well, the story is enlivened and made interesting by the storyteller and is really an experience to listen to the age old epic in new light with ever newer interepretations by the storyteller.

According to the Hindu Lunar calendar, the new year starts from the month of Chaitra. The nine days starting from Ugadi, the first day of Chiatra until Rama Navami, are celebrated as Chaitra Navaratri in many places in India. All these nine days, the devouts fast. Satsangs are arranged for all the nine days covering the story of the Ramayana part by part and also Bhajan programmes are arranged in temples and relegious congregations.

In Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Rama, the day starts with the devotees taking a dip in the holy Sarayu river. Many devout Hindus observe a fast on this day. The temples all over the city arrange a special pooja in the Noon when Lord Rama was supposed to be born. 

People visit the famous Kanak bhavan temple in Ayodhya to offer special pooja on this occasion. The temple is famous for the statues of Rama and Sita with gold crowns. It is a good idea to visit Ayodhya during the nine days of Chaitra Navaratri and Rama Navami to experience the festivities for yourself. The nearest big city is Lucknow which has air, rail and road connectivity. From Lucknow you can travel to Ayodhya by road. 

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Following is the Google search result for a list of hotels in Ayodhya.

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In many places a Rath yatra or Shobha yatra is organised on the occasion of Ramanavami wherein actors (sometimes children) are dressed as Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman and a procession is held with them on a chariot along the city streets. Many people participate in the event and slogans are shouted praising Lord Rama.

Khushhalibad my home town:

In order to make my reporting of festivals more interesting I have decided to include reports about happenings in my home town of Khushhalibad. Khushhalibad is a virtual town on the web. More about my town later but now back to the festival of Rama Navami.

A Shobha yatra during Rama Navami was organised in Khushhalibad. It was a very wonderful affair and everybody enjoyed the event. 

As the procession was entering the city square the vehicle got stuck and no number of trials could start the chariot. The distraught organisers requested the help of Ballu Pahalwan, the city's renowned wrestler to get them out of the situation.

Ballu, himself a great devotee of Lord Rama and his disciple Hanuman (Ballu's role model and inspiration) readily agreed to help but under two conditions:

    First,That he gets to play the part of Hanuman in the Shobha Yatra.

    Well, I think it is better to see for yourself what the second condition was :

So, in the end, as is typical of Khushhalibad, the organisers were happy that the procession was a success, people were happy that they got to see a new kind of Shobha Yatra and as for Ballu, he was too happy to flex his muscles and exhibit some machismo.

Such is the town of Khushhalibad. Now back to the real world.

According to the Ramayana, the wedding of Lord Rama and Sita coincided with his birthday, i.e. Rama Navami. Hence, in the south, Seetarama Kalyanotsavam is arranged in various temples, wherein a ritualistic marriage is performed between the idols of Rama and Sita. This practice is especially prevalent in Andhra Pradesh and in the famous temple in the town of Bhadrachalam which is a place associated with events of the Ramayana.

Story of Raamadasu :-

Sri Raamadasu or Kancharla Gopanna was a great devotee of Lord Rama and composed many devotional songs praising his beloved Lord. He worked as the Tahsildar (Revenue Collector) under the Qutb Shahi sultan Abdul Hasan Taana Shah. He visited the temple of Bhadrachalam one day and was disappointed to see the sorry state of affair of the temple. He began rebuilding the temple. He used his revenue collections to this effect and rebuilt the temple.

When the matter came to the notice of the Taana Shah he considered the expenditure as a misuse of official funds. He ordered Sri Raamadasu to be imprisoned in the Golconda Fort in Hyderabad till such time the amount is not recovered from him.

Many years passed and Sri Raamadasu remained in prison. Deep in devotion to his Lord Rama, he neither felt greif nor regret at his situation. It was while remaining in prison that he composed many of his songs and also the famous 'Daasarathi Satakamu'.

Then one day in the dead of the night the Taana Shah was woken up by two very handsome young men in his own bedroom. Even as the Shah was trying to make sense about how the young men could enter his bedroom, they showered gold coins in front of him equal to the amount due to him. 

They obtained a written reciept from the Taana Shah then and there for the amount and secured the release of Sri Raamadasu.

The next day when the Shah related the event to Sri Raamadasu, both realised that the two young men were none other than the beloved Lord of Sri Raamadasu, Sri Rama and his brother Lakshmana. So humbled was the Taana Shah by the happenings that he ordered gifts on his behalf for the Seetarama Kalyanotsavam at the Bhadrachalam temple. He also passed edicts that every year the clothes and pearls to be used in the Kalyanotsavam should be sent on behalf of the Qutb Shahi government.

His dictum is followed to this day wherein the State government of Andhra Pradesh sends representatives (sometimes the Chief Minister of the state himself comes) with the gifts and participate in the Kalyanotsavam ceremonies.

The Kalyanotsavam is a very eloberate affair which is performed in exactly the same manner in which a grand marriage is performed between a couple. It is performed exactly at noon when Sri Rama is supposed to have wed Sita. It is a must see during Rama Navami. The nearest major city to Bhadrachalam is Khammam. from Khammam road transport is available to Bhadrachalam. Khammam is connected from the capital city Hyderabad by rail and road. A map showing the directions from Khammam to Bhadrachalam is as follows :

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Travellers can stay at Khammam and then plan a trip to Bhadrachalam from there. A search for hotels in Kammam is as follows :

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Many delicacies are cooked celebrating Rama Navami. The most delicious of which are Paanakamu (Juice made out of jaggery syrup) and Vada Pappu (made from Green gram dal). click here for recipes.

Hope you enjoy this Rama Navami. You can visit places related to the Ramayana like Ayodhya or participate in the Lord's marriage at the Kalyanotsavam in Bhadrachalam. Also you can see the Shobha Yatra if it is held in a place near you. There are other things you can do like participating in a Satsang listening to the story of Lord Rama.

Till we meet again, Enjoy!!
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