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KalyANOtsawam

From: S.A.Shivashankar (shivu_at_mrc.iisc.ernet.in)
Date: Fri Jul 24 1998 - 23:20:28 PDT

Dear BhAgawatas,

Though I grew up in a rather traditional ambience, I had never witnessed
until recently, leave alone taken part in, the KalyANOtsawam form of
worship of the deities Venkatesha and PadmAwathI. It seemed to me to be an
indulgence of sorts, in keeping with the elaborate, time-consuming (and
expensive) events that weddings often become in south India, wherein the
sacred incantations and vows are drowned out completely by the cacophony
of gossip and drums. I used to feel much the same way about the
re-enactments of SrIrAma PattAbhisEkam at the end of the RAma Nawami
Utsawams each spring. The latter, though, seemed to me at that time
(thirty odd years ago) to have a redeeming value as the climax of a
festival of harikathA and music which was very uplifting and enjoyable.

Thanks to my brother and sister-in-law, my wife and I took part in the
KalyANOtsawam some time ago at the ChaluwarAya Swamy temple just beyond
the southern outskirts of Bangalore. No one seems to be sure, but the
temple which is on top of a hill is probably several hundred years old,
and has a beautiful, quiet, and rustic ambience. A rather elderly couple
also joined us in the Utsawam.

The experience of this celebratory worship was new to me and
extraordinary. As bhakthas trickled in to form a large gathering, and as
they joined in the chorus of some of the hymns, I was transported into a
world I had regrettably avoided hitherto. It was wonderful.

I do not mean to be self-indulgent in writing about this experience to
this erudite audience. I would like to know about the "origins" of this
form of worship which, besides celebrating the Divine Couple, seems to
have a very "secular" content and intent to it. To wit, the declaration of
the sanctity of marital life by invoking the wedding of Lord NArAyaNa
Himself. I also thought that the Christian practice of taking wedding vows
again (after many years of marriage) is analogous to the KalyANOtsawam
performed by married couples. I wonder too whether, in this wonderful
tradition, there is the intent that large numbers of people would
naturally join this Pooja with "UtsAham", the same way that they would
attend weddings of kith and kin. That is, not all of these worshippers
might perform a "regular" Pooja but they, too, would partake of the
blessings of Lord NArAyaNa this way. I imagine that there are many layers
of meaning to this form of worship, as well as to the RAma Nawami festival
culminating in the PattAbhishEka MahOtsawam. I would be grateful to you if
you enlighten me about this tradition. Is it, for example, a tradition
"built" by the Sri VaishNawa AchAryas ? 

If these questions have been elaborated upon earlier in this forum (or
elsewhere), please direct me to the appropriate archives/sources.

Many thanks.......///shivashankar
_____________________________________________________________________________

S.A. Shivashankar		      
Materials Research Centre		            
Indian Institute of Science            
Bangalore 560 012, INDIA