Paryaya-2010: Udupi prepares for the grand Paryaya ceremonies

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By Dr. Eugene D’Souza, Moodubelle


Udupi, 16 January 2010: As the biennial Paryaya Ceremony is just few days away, Udupi and the Shiruru Mutt whose pontiff, Shri Lakshmivara Thirtha Swamiji will be ascending the ‘Paryaya Sarvajna Pitha’ at the Shri Krishna Mutt on 18th January 2010 are all set for the grand and solemn paryaya ceremony. Though the renovated Shiruru Mutt was inaugurated by its pontiff Shri Lakshmivara Thirtha Swamiji earlier on 11th November 2009, the final touches to the finer points were being given till few days prior to the paryaya ceremonies. The city of Udupi wears a festive look with welcome towers being erected, hoardings displayed, buntings lining up and roads repaired and cleaned. The paryaya is the bi-annual solemn ritual that Udupi has been witnessing since the sixteenth century.

Shri Madhvacharya, who was born at the Pajaka Kshetra in Padubelle in the first half of the 13th century established Eight Mutts at different locations and assigned them to his eight favourite disciples. He also founded the famous Shri Krishna Temple at Udupi where he installed the idol of Shri Krishna which he worshipped personally for twenty years and thereafter by the pontiffs of the Eight Mutts in rotation who are the spiritual descendents of Shri Madhvacharya.

The Swamijis of the Eight Mutts conduct the worship at Shri Krishna Mutt by turns, for two years each. This tenure of worship by rotation is known as ‘Paryaya’. The Swamiji in charge of worship at any point of time is called ‘Paryaya Swamiji’ and his Mutt called the ‘Paryaya Mutt’.The biennial transfer of the privilege of worship from one mutt to another is celebrated as a grand festival called ‘Paryaya Festival’. The handover of charge begins with a grand procession where all the Swamijis are brought in decorated palanquins (Palki). The outgoing Swamiji receives the Swamijis and then hands over to the incoming Swamiji, the keys to the Shri Krishna Mutt and the Akshaya Patra, a vessel given by Shri Madhvacharya to the temple for the sake of never-ending Annadana.

This year the Swamiji of the Shiruru Mutt, one of the Eight Mutts founded by Shri Madhvacharya, Shri Lakshmivara Thirtha will take over as the Paryaya Swamiji from the incumbent Shri Sugunendra Thirtha Swamiji of the Puttige Mutt. Like other seven Mutts, the Shiruru Mutt has a long history of the succession of pontiffs. According to the Guru Parampara or tradition of the pontiffs, the first head of the Shiruru Mutt was Shri Vamana Thirtha (1249-1327) who was one of the eight disciples of Shri Madhvacharya and the first pontiff of the Shiruru Mutt.

Shri Vamana Thirtha was succeeded by twenty eight pontiffs, the 29th being Shri Lakshmi Manojnya Thirtha (1963 – 1971) who was a great patron of all forms of arts, music, painting, literature and sculpture. In 1963, he got the Krishna Dharma Chathra built and handed it over to the Sri Krishna Mutt. This was considered and is still remembered as the Golden Era of culture and literature.

The present pontiff of the Shiruru Mutt, Shri Lakshmivara Thirtha is the 30th pontiff of the Shiruru Mutt who succeeded Shri Lakshmi Manojnya in 1971. He was born to Shri Vittala Acharya and Smt. Kusumamma on 8th June 1964 at Madamakki in Kundapura Taluk. He attained Sanyasa Diksha from Shri Vishvothama Thirtha of Shri Sode Mutt in 1971. He studied Vedas from Kodangala Sri Anantha Ramacharya and was constantly guided under the tutelage of Shri Vishvothama Thirtha. He was also guided by Shri Narayana Tantri, Adde Shri Vedavyasa Acharya and Alevoor Shri Seetharam Acharya. He has been a disciple of Shri Vidyasagara Thirtha of Krishnapura Mutt.

Shri Lakshmivara Thirtha Swamiji, the head of the Shiruru Mutt, who is 44 years old, has already successfully conducted his earlier two terms of Paryaya during 1972-74 and 1986-88. This will be his third term of Paryaya to worship at the Shri Krishna Temple and look after the temple administration for the next two years.


The Shiruru Mutt is situated next to Shri Krishnapur Mutt at Udupi and on the right side of Shri Krishna Temple. The original Swamiji of this Mutt, Shri Vamana Thirtha received Shri Vittala idol from Shri Madhvacharya for his worship. The main branch of this Mutt is at Shiruru, a place 21 kilometres from Udupi near Hiriyadka.

As the Paryaya Mutt, the exterior and interior of the Shiruru Mutt have been aesthetically and painted and polished. Two huge images at the entrance of the Mutt add to the attraction of the Mutt. The relief work inside the Mutt has been painted in golden colour and the huge wooden beams of the ceilings and the sturdy wooden pillars with carved capitals have been varnished. Hectic activity can be seen all around and inside the Shiruru Mutt as the Paryaya day is just few days away.

Every two years, the Paryaya period is the festive season for the city of Udupi. Already hundreds of hoardings with the pictures of Shri Lakshmivara Thirtha wishing success to the paryaya ceremony have sprung up by the side of the roads and high rise buildings. Welcome towers with beautiful designs are being erected and the entire city is spruced to welcome the Paryaya Swamiji. Expecting a large number of people to attend the Paryaya ceremony road dividers are being put up and security measures have been enhanced.

Every day since a week or so, the people of Udupi are treated to the spectacular scene of the ‘Horake Procession’ during which the offerings to the paryaya in the form of muras or bags of rice, pulses, coconuts and vegetables from different organisations and regions transported to the Shri Krishna Mutt in a caravan of decorated vehicles. The procession that i witnessed on Thursday, 14th January 2010 had an elephant right in front of the procession followed by various ‘doll dancers’, drum beaters and hundreds of decorated rickshaws, tempos and trucks winding its way through the busy streets of Udupi towards the Shri Krishna Mutt.

With all the preparations for the grand paryaya ceremonies, the city of Udupi is eagerly waiting for Monday, 18th January 2010, the day on which the pontiff of the Shiruru Mutt, Shri Lakshmivara Thirtha will ascend the Sarvajna Pitha with exclusive right to worship Shri Krishna in the Udupi temple and the right to administer both Shri Krishna Temple and the Mutt for the next two years.

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Comments on this Article
Victor D’Souza, Moodubelle / Doha Tue, January-19-2010, 11:54
Fantastic article and great pictures. Gathering so much information to perfection on such high profile event is surely lot of hard work. Also, catching close up pictures in such a mass crowd is also not easy either. Hats off to you Dr. Eugene and Mr. Anil.
Kesava Tadipatri, Kurugodu Tue, January-19-2010, 9:48
"Shri Lakshmivara Thirtha Swamiji, the head of the Shiruru Mutt, who is 44 years old, has already successfully conducted his earlier two terms of Paryaya during 1972-74 and 1986-88." This does not seem right. The prior paryaya should be 1994-96. And one before should be 1968-70.
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