UTSAVAM OF NARAYANA THE VAIKHANASA WAY
origin of Vikhanasa
It is said that there was slackness on the part of the inhabitants of this earth, including the sages, in the worship of Sriman Narayana. Therefore the Lord Himself created Srimad Vikhsana from His own mind.
विशेषेण खननात् विखनाः.. visheshena khananaat vikhanaa..meaning. it is Vikhanaa because it originated from a rare mine..
The Lord Himself imparted the knowledge of all vedas, shastras and procedures of worship to Sage Vikhanas. Therefore the followers of Vaikhanasa call this way of worship as Bhagavat Shastram..
Festivals and Vaikhanasa..
The fundamental instruction of Vaikhanasa shastram is that
विष्णुं प्रतिष्ठाप्य अर्चन महोत्सवादीनि कुर्यात्
vishnum pratishtaapya archana mahotsavaadeeni kuryaat..
Vishnu should be consecrated in the temple.. and should be offered daily pooja and elaborate festivals should be conducted.
It is also said that महता प्रयत्नेने उत्सवानि क्रियन्ते. mahataa prayatnen utsavaani kriyante.. The festivals are conducted through the concerted efforts and unrelenting labour of a lot of devotees.. So it is called Mahotsavam..
The Lords utsvam is called Mahotsavam additionally because the festival is conducted for Sriman Narayana after all the Gods in heaven are formally invited and are participating in the celebrations enthusiastically.
In fact, all the festivals, and even the daily pooja conducted the Vaikhanasa way are Mahotsavams.. This is because Vaikhanasa rituals prescribe that even for daily poojas deities and sages like Brahma, Bhrigu, Markandeya, Shankara, the Ashta Dikpalakas etc are invoked and offered proper respects through offer of Pushpanyasam or floral worship. And during the nitya Aradhana and nitya homam, all the deities are worshiped and offered havir bhagam. So even nitya pooja is in a way a mahotsavam for Narayana..
Another heartening feature to b noted here is that the Vaikhansa Agamam is filled with a lot of mantrams which are to be practiced every day, and a huge number of materials in large quantities have to be procured an arranged with very active participation of large number of devotees. This also justifies the idea that every pooja should be treated as a mahotsavam.
The PUNARUDDHAARANA SAMPROKSHANA and the NOOTHANA SAMPROKSHANA ( we call it Kumbhabhishekam) are all Mahotsavams.
In these Samprokshana functions, all the gods are invited through the formal announcement of the function and formal invitation. This is called Houtram or Devataahvaanam हौत्रं -देवताह्वानं.. All the gods from heaven and all the occupants of Vaikuntam are formally invited for the consecration of the idol of Vishnu. So it is again Mahotsavam.
Procedure of Utsavam
Sage Bhrigu has prescribed the Mahotsava Vidhi.. or procedure for the festival..
महोत्सवविधिः अतः परम् प्रवक्ष्यामि क्रमेणोत्सवं हरेः अयने विषुवे चैव विष्णु पञ्च दिनेषु वा. यजमानस्य जन्मर्क्षे राज्ञो जन्मर्क्ष एव च अयने मास नक्षत्रे प्रतिष्टान्त दिने तथा उत्सवन्तु सङ्कल्प्य तत्र तीर्थं प्रकल्पयेत् एतेषु एकं प्रतिग्राह्यं यजमानेच्छया दिनं.
mahotsavavidhiH.. ataH param pravakshyaami kramenotsavam hareH. ayane vishuve chaiva vishnu panch dineshu vaa yajamaanasya janmarkshe raajno janmarksha eva cha. ayane maasa nakshatre pratishtaanta dine tathaa utsavantu sankalpya tatra teertham prakalpayet. eteshu ekam pratigraahyam yajamaanecchayaa dinam..
The mahotsavam as above can be defined as the celebrations which are fixed with prior solemn determination or Sankalpam of the devotees concerned. It can be on any or one of the following occasions.
1. Utharayana Punyakalam
2 'Dakshinayanan Punyakalam
3 The Vishu Punyakalam.. the Sankramana dates on the start
of every solar month..
4. The five most auspicious days for Vishnu every month
1 . Amavasya 2. Pournamasya. 3. Shukla Ekadashi 4.
Krishna ekadashi 5.. Shravana or Thiruvonam Star
5. If an individual is opting to conduct a festival, on the date of
his birth star.
6. The birth star of the King or ruler of the Region or the
Country or Nation..
7. On fixed auspicious Nakshatrams occuring on particular
monts Like Ashtami Rohini..
8. On the date when the deity of the temple was
consecrated..the Kumbhabhishekam Day ( The
In fact, dvajaarohanam(flag hoisting ) is prescribed for all the mahotsavams. But for practical reasons, detailed utsavam with hoisting of flag etc.. is restricted to Brahmotsavam.. that happens usually only once in a year
Sage Bhrigu has classified the Mahotsavam into three categories.
1.. Kaalotsavam..कालोत्सवं The utsavam conducted every month or certain days and the annual utsavam
2. Shraddhotsavam..श्रद्धोत्सवं observed by people who have vowed with devotion to conduct some festival as their own offering..
3.Naimittikotsavam...नैमित्तिकोत्सवं utsavams conducted with a view to ward off all the misfortunes affecting the people of the area and celebrations and festivities praying for general affluence, good rain, good harvest etc..
The festivals can be conducted for a period of 21 days,, considered as uttama or best, or 14 or 9 days considered as madhyamam or satisfactory or for 7 days considered as adhamam not so satisfactory..
The Brahmotsavam, the annual utsavam is called by that name because it is believed that Lord Brahma Himself visits the temple and conducts the function.
The main functions in the Utsavam are..
1. The announcement of the festival and preparing the flag staff of Dvajastambham..by decorating it and keeping it ready for the hoisting of the flag marking the start of the festival,
2.Selection of cotton cloth for the flag, drawing of the picture of Garuda Azhvar on the cloth in the prescribed way..
3. Preparation of the mandapa and consecration of Garuda Azhvar in the flag
4. Bheri Tadanam... Formal beating of the Drums.. after chanting Bheri sooktham.. Upashvaasaya. prithveem etc..
5. Bali Samarpanam... Offering prescribed food materials etc to propitiate the demi gods, spirits etc
6. Dvajarohanam.. The hoisting of the flag is done with the permission of Lord Narayana,, in the presence of Lord Vishvaksena and the Chakrathu Azhvar.. or Lord Sudharshana. And it is supposed to be in the presence and with the active participation of all the gods who have come receiving our invitation..
7 The conduct of the festival.. with Agamic poojas, Vedic homas, Vedaparayanam, Daily Processions, Nritham, Vadhyam, Special Naiavedyams and so on.. These can be discussed only in another essay.. The peak of the celebratins is the ratholsavam where the Lord Narayana is taken in procession in a chariot.. Then there is the formal lowering of the flag.. and Mangalasnamam.. in a holy teertham for the lord..
The homams are prescribed every day during the mahotsavam.. and the materials offered like twigs and foodstuff all vary from day to day..
यत्रैव क्रियते विष्णोरुत्सवः सर्वशान्तिदः तस्मिन् देशे अन्यदेवानां उत्सवं नैव कारयेत्.
yatraiva kriyate vishnorutsavaH sarvashaantidaH tasmin deshe anyadevaanaam utsavam naiva kaarayet.
If the mahotsavam of Lord Narayana is going on in a place.. that would spread peace and prosperity there. During those days of that festival to Narayna, no festivals for other gods should be conducted there..
Of course, that statement is made perhaps to underline the glory of the Lord..
If the festivals are conducted with devotion and sincere involvement..
1. The devotees would attain Vaikuntam when they finally depart
2. There will be peace everywhere
3. All misfortunes and difficulties would vanish
4. Rains would come in plenty, Grains will grow in excess
5. The whole world, the Country, the state, the village and all the rulers will be blessed with strength, prosperity and capacity to lead their subjects..
6. The demons and spirits infesting the territory would take flight.
So Vaikhanasa says
तस्मात् सर्व प्रयत्नेन कारयेदुत्सवं हरेः
tasmaat sarva prayatnena kaarayet utsavam hareH..
Therefore the utsavams of Lord Hari should be conducted with all enthusiasm and willingness to serve..
k v ananthanarayanan
( the texts of various Vaishnava scholars have been referred to in preparing this note.. I have no direct experience as a Vaikhanasa.. though I am a devotee of Narayana )