Kannada Article by: MA Sumedha
English Rendering by: MR Yashaswini
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It is a very natural desire to invite our beloved ones to our houses just the way we visit them. Especially on special occasions we insist that they be our guests. There could be certain circumstances where they might not be able to grace the occasion with their presence. Respecting the affection with which we invite, they find an amicable solution for this quandary. The family head sends their son as their representative. In this situation, we pay all the respects and tributes to the son as though we are offering them to the father himself and find ourselves content and A very familiar and commonly observed scenario illustrated above also signifies the principle behind 'The Rathotsava' - the procession of the divine chariot. Although the deity is daily worshipped in the 'Garbhagruha' (the Sanctum Sanctorum) of the temple, there is a desire to 'invite' him home and worship him. The boon that fulfills this desire is nothing but Rathotsava. This is the reason why the 'Maharshis of Bhaarata' established the concept of 'Utsava Moorti' (Processional Deity). Being the representatives of the Moola Moorthis (Primary Deity), these Utsava Moorthis of the temples are worshipped and taken in procession through the streets of the village/town. The Moola Moorti showers his choicest blessings on all his devotees through the Utsava Moorthi. Similarly the devotion of all his devotees is also offered to him.
'Utsava' implies a Yajna (a ritual) that 'elevates' the Jeeva to its 'Source' which means that it is led in the path of experiencing 'Paranjyoti' (Supreme Light). 'Rathotsavas' are thus an important means to attain this state. Variety of colourful Rangolis decorates the houses and the streets during this festival. Similar to the creepers of life, these Rangolis bow to welcome the Lord. The entire path of the chariot is decorated with rows of lamps. People welcome the Lord with great grandeur as though He is entering their own houses. The Ratha sparkles amidst all the divine chants, Veda mantras, Jayaghosha, cultural songs, dances and musical instruments. Every household offers fruits, flowers and mangalarathi to the Lord. All the devotees, with a one-pointed mind towards the Lord, pull the divine chariot together. After giving Darshana to all his devotees the Utsava moorti finally joins the Moola moorti.
Here, Sriranga Mahaguru has thrown light upon the nuances of this 'Utsava' as follows: "While pulling the ropes of this Ratha, we should rather surrender ourselves to the Ratha of Bhagawath Sankalpa (Will of the Lord) instead of yielding to our own Manoratha (chariot of our materialistic desires)".
Our body is also compared to the Ratha as well as to the temple. One who rides this Ratha is none other than the Parama Purusha. Our feet are analogous to the wheels of the Ratha. Hrudaya (Heart) depicts the Mantapa (Pedastal). The Soma-Surya-Agni mandalas are compared to the Gopura (divine tower). In the pinnacle of the shiras (head) shines the Pranavaakshara (Om). It is our utmost duty to transform this god-gifted body to Bhagawath Ratha.
Note: The Kannada version of this article can be viewed at AYVM blogs.
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