Lakshadeepa is one of the much awaited and celebrated festivals of Udupi, Krishna ashatmi and Pariyaya being the other two. This begins on Karthika dwadashi-triodashi and ends on Hunnime, that is the 12thand 13th day to the full moon of Karthika month of the Hindu calendar.
Twelve days after the Deepavali Amavasya, is the Tulasi Puje. I do not remember anything happening in our houses, maybe because it is not so much of a ritual or maybe because our families dispensed it off. But most likely because it was a huge event at the Udupi temple.
The ekadashi or the 11th day after the Amavasya is the Prabhodhini Ekadashi which marks the end of chaturmas. Which is the four month hibernating period of Vishnu. The temple at Udupi commemorates the deification of Vrinda to the healing-purifying herb that is revered.
The temple town celebrates this occasion by placing wooden stands around the temple square and small lamps are lit.
The rituals begin at the Madhwasarovara, where the idol of the Lord is taken around on the pond, then ritualistic prayers are said and hymns are sung. The deity is then brought out to the road and placed in the “ratha” the chariot. This is the moment when people light the lamp.
As a child I remember rushing with my cousins to wait along the stands to light these lamps. During our teenage years it was below our dignity and “superior knowledge” to be associated with such fun, or rituals.
After marriage and getting immersed into day to day existence Lakshdeepa was a forgotten adventure. Until this year, my brother Ravi insisted that we attend the occasion.
We did what used to do as kids, go to the main gate of Krishna temple, say hi to the lord from Kanakana kindi, and then rush near the Puttige mutta where the “Tattiraya” or huge wooden man would be placed. Someone who slip inside the Tattiraya and walk so it would appear like this huge doll walking. Then of course we would go to Airodiyavara paatra-angadi, pick up some things for the house of course this time it was just for old time’s sake. Then Dinakar Bhat next door to pick up fragrant sachets. And wait for the moment to light the lamp.
Today the streets were live with young girls buying bangles, people eating charumuri the tradition street snack… vendors selling rangoli powders, gooseberry. Vegetable vendors trying to shoo away their clients so that they could light the lamps in peace. Young couples holding hands. Kids with their parents scuttling round the Tattiraya
Suddenly the streets come alive with sparkle of excitement that shines in the reflection of the flickering flames of the traditional lamps. No electrification can match either the beauty of the mystic power of this. I am so glad that I could connect to something that meant so much to me, but I never figured out.