Rathotsava is celebrated between Vaishakha Shuddha pratipade to Vaishakha Shuddha Shashti is as magnificent and famous as Lakshadeepotsava. Definite and clear indications are unavailable as to when exactly Rathosava came to be started in Karkala Shree Venkataramana Temple. Nevertheless, ancient Kadatha records indicate that after 1777 AD Jeernoddhara, colour ratha was crafted in 1785 AD and Brahmaratha was constructed in 1827 AD. Now, Rathothsava presupposes Dhwajarohana (unfurling the flag) and dhwajarohana implies existence of a dhwaja stambha (flag pole) in front of the temple. Most probably, dhwajastambha too must have been erected during Jeernoddhara. Therefore, Rathotsava must have come into force after colour ratha was crafted, i.e –after 1785 AD. Record on a Kadatha provides the details of the expenditure on Rathotsava held in 1816 AD. Hence it may be inferred that Rathotsava began to be celebrated in 1785 AD itself.
Rathotsava is a mahotsava held for the purpose of penitence. It is revealed in sankalpa adopted before starting yajna. The following Sankalpa is adopted on the firstday of Rathothsava after the Lord arrives at Yajna mantapa and takes his seat.
SANKALPA OF RATHOTSAVA
1. To impart full splendour to moola bimba (original idol).
2. To redeem the doshas arising from entry of thieves, hypocrites and sinners.
3. To remove the doshas arising out of entry of dogs, birds, snakes, frogs, honeybees, crows and insects.
4. To ward off blemishes accruing because of sputum and exeretions of animals.
5. To banish doshas arising from mucus and seminal discharge of men.
6. To obliterate the obstacles resulting from ghosts, pretas, pishachas, yakshas, danavas and rakshasas during day or night, in past or future, on land or sky.
7. For attaining Ekaadasha sthaana of Navagrahas which are in dwadasha and Ashtama sthanas during ratna mantapa utsavas of the Lord and thereafter to attain the mangalankura siddhi of beeja patrankura devatas, for propitiation of mantapa, dwaara and dhwja devataas, for propitiation of Shree Lakshmi Venkatesha permeating Vastu devata, Nandi devata and Navagrahas, for the prosperity of the President, Prime Minister and the country, for fortification of Sapta durgas, for constant evolution of the nation’s citizens, for the Well-being, Courage, Potency, Victory, Protection, Health and Long life and Prosperity of the Head of the nation, for long life of utsava sevedars, yagaacharya, Brahma, Ritwikas etc; for attaining brahmalokas such as Kalpokta, Sananda etc; Shree Vishnu Rathotsava is celebrated propitiating Shree Lakshmi Venkatesha.
After this Sankalpa, Mahaganapati puja, Swasti punyahavachana, Mathraka puja, Nandi Aradhana, selection of Ritwijas (15), invoking Mantapa devata, Vastu puja, Ankurarpana, Koutuka (Kankana) bandhana, Panchamrita Abhisheka etc. are completed and the Yajna starts. Indra and other Dikpalakas; Ganapati, Durga, Kshetrapala, Vastupurusha, Triumbaka, Abhayakara Chitradeva, Ashwini devata etc are offered ahuti; Ankura devata, Ashtadevatas including Brahma, Indradyashta, Jayadrashta etc are offered Bali and then laghu poornahuti is performed for Homa. After this, Dhwajarohana, Balipradana, Shantipatha are held and at last bhooribhojana takes place. At night, silver Garuda vahana utasva is held on behalf of Ranjala Narayana Shanubhag. This day’s bhoori bhojana is the seva from people of lower town. Day utsavas are celebrated every day from Pratipade to Akshaya Tadige.At this time kattepuje also is held .Similarly yajnas are held on remaining 4 days also, addressing different Devatas.On Bidige day, Samaradhane is held on behalf of Lawyer Rama Hegde and night utsava of Hanumantha vahana (Kuvalya Hanumantha) is held on behalf of Kavaduru Seetamma. On Akshaya Trithiya day bhooribhojana is held on behalf of Nandalike Kalabettu Lakkappa Hegde and at night utsava on Red Garuda vahana is held on behalf of Chinivardha Shreenivasa Kamath. On Vaishakha shuddha Chaturthi day, Samaradhane is held on behalf of upper townspeople, Puja on Shami tree katte is held on behalf of Kukkundooru Subraya Kamath, Mrigabete utsava and Deeparadhane are held on behalf of Cholpadi Srinivasa Kamath and later small Ratha utsava is held on behalf of Narayana Pai.
VAISHAKA SHUDDHA PANCHAMI
Brahmarathothsava is held on this day.Ratharohana takes place after yajna and bali. Prior to this, the Lord who has come for bali, goes to Rajangana (Kalyana mantapa), off Yajna mantapa during the first round and accepts panaka puja. Panaka puja is today’s speciality. Approximately, 1,800 Kg of jaggery, 12,500 lemons, 18Kg of black pepper, 18 Kg of dry ginger and 5 Kg of Cardamom are used in this panaka preparation. After Ratharohana, the panaka is distributed to all the assembled bhaktas. Many have formed a corpus for this panaka seva. Some bhaktas also supply jaggery and other ingredients. Panaka preparation is the seva of Karkala Pai family of Kounshya Gotra. Distribution of panaka has been the seva of Cherdan Shenoy family. Prasad is distributed to Sevadars after Puja.
At night, before Rathothsava starts, Lord is offered nazaru kanika brought from Ramachandra Prabhu’s house with grand ceremony. Then mangalarati is performed before God. Then those committed to tie phalavali to the ratha, fulfil their commitment. Commitment is undertaken wishing for the speedy recovery of sick children or any such relief. Children are lifted upto the door top on the ratha and the second moktesar Kamath from ground enquires, “is the commitment fulfilled?” to which the archaka on the ratha replies, “Fulfilled”. After phalavali, the bhakta under commitment is given prasad.
This day’s bhoori santarpane is the seva of Nalkooru Ramachandra Prabhu family. This night’s Brahmarathotsava and Vasanta Puja are held on behalf of Chinivardha Krishnayya Shanubhag (Commissionerkar) of Gaitonde family.
Thereafter the Lord retreats to the garbhagudi. Ratri puja and Ekantaseva follow. The door of garbhagudi is locked and the keys are placed on a silver plate with gandha Prasad. This silver plate is handed over to Prabhu, the first moktesar, by Joishy or Puranik. Prabhu reverentially carries this silver plate containing keys and Prasad atop his head, takes a round of the temple joined by vaidiks, trustees and bhajakas and proceeds to his residence along with all temple paraphernalia. Silver plate containing keys is placed in his puja room. Puranik and Joishys then pray to the Lord and offer Prasad to Prabhu and his family members. Thereafter, bath and Sandhyavandana over, all join at Prabhu’s residence again and offer prayers to the Lord. Then, silver plate containing keys is brought back to the temple by Prabhu carrying the same reverentially atop his head, along with other temple paraphernalia. They all take a round of the temple. After dwarapuja, the door of garbhagudi is unlocked using the key from the silver plate. This custom has been unequivocally followed over the years and is the blessed privilege of the first moktesar Prabhu’s family.