If you are in Mangalore during the time of Magha masa, specifically the “Ratha Saptami” period, then you cannot miss the Mangalore Car Festival which is popularly called as Kodiala Teru in Dakhina Kannada region. This period is usually the last week of January or the first week of February. It is a five day festival with various religious activities spanned across these six days. This festival happens at the premises of the Sri Veera Venkateshwara Temple, Car Street, Mangalore
Day 1 - 3
On the first day, the religious rituals get underway by Prarthana(Prayer) in the presence of Tantris, Archakas, Trustees, Manager and other Mahajanas, where by prayers are offered to the Lord for the allround success of the car festival by mutual co-operation of the people. The Dhwajarohana (Kodi), will be held in the evening, wherein silver plate with the images of Lord Hanuman and Lord Garuda is hoisted to the top of Dhwaja Sthamba(Flag Post) signifying an invitation to all the Devathas for their blessings and participation in the Lord Venkataramana’s wedlock with Shri Padmavathi.
The proceedings on the first, second and the third day of the Car Festival are very much similar, which includes the Utsava Deity presiding to the Yajna Mantapa in the morning, Yajna Aarthi in the afternoon, Bali Utsava in Silver Palanquein, Maha Samaradhana, Rathri Bandi Utsava, Gopurotsava, Utsava in the inner premises and concluding with Vasantha Puja. The Utsava in the inner premises on all the days comprises of Veda recitals, Bhajans, Chande, Vajjap(Trumpet playing).
Day 4 - Saan Teru (Mrigabete)
On Magha Shuddha shasti, the morning part of the rituals are same to that of the preceding days. But Hagalu utsava is carried on silver lalki utsava. After ratri puja(Night Puja) The Mrigabete Utsava procession starts off with Lord Srinivasa in silver lalki gracefully decorated with various varieties of flowers, to which silver bow and arrow is tied. The Utsava makes its way to the Dongerkeri katte where the Mrigabete will be held after the puja. As the chief priest releases the last arrow directed upwards, the robust and enthusiastic volunteers adorned in patte todapu, generally pick two individuals among themselves as ‘Mriga’(Animal) by heaving them over their shoulders and banging the backs of Mriga, take them in front of the Lord. Prasadam is given to the Mriga. The Utsava then proceeds through Dongerkeri, Basavanagudi, Chamaragalli, Lower Carstreet, Carstreet and Sanna Rathotsava follows. The other utsavs are same as the other days.
Day 4 - The Utsava Murthy taken on the silver lalki for Mrigabete
A typical Patte Todapu dress
Day 5 - Hodu Teru(Brahmarathotsava)
On Magha Shuddha Saptami (Ratha Saptami) is the Brahmarathotsava. On this auspicious day after Prarthana, Lord Veera Venkatesha Swamy(Patta Devaru) and Lord Srinivasa(Utsava Murthy) are conveyed to Thirtha Mantapa, wherein Panchamrithabhisheka, Pulakabhisheka, Shatakalashabhisheka are performed. Thousands of tender coconuts pile up for the same. This will be followed by Naivedya and Madhyana Puja. Then Utsava Deity presides to the Yajna Mantapa.
In the evening the much awaited occasion arises. Lord Veera Venkatesha Swamy, adorned with jewels and flowers ascends the Golden Palanquein along with the Utsava Deity and Mahabali Utsava follows. The grandeur of Lord Veera Venkatesha Swamy being seated in the Golden Palanquein is so magnificent that it makes the piety people reach the culmination of their devotion.
Day 5 - Volunteers Holding the Pallaki before the Lord boards the Chariot
The Hodu Teru is such a remarkable event that enormous crowd muster in the Temple Square where the exquisitely embellished chariot (Hodu Teru) is situated, to witness the spectacle of Lord Veera Venkatesha Swamy enthroning the Brahmaratha. The ambience of the place gets so exuberant, that the cheerful aura coerces people to forget their woes and contemplate on the Lord, who alone can bring an end to their agonies . The Ratha Puja is performed. After having watched the Lord ensconced on his Majestic Throne their joy knows no bounds and they relish the event incessantly forevermore. Narlu-kele (Coconut and Bannanas) is offered by devotees to the Lord on Brahmaratha. In the meantime Samaradhana (Food) is served. At night the Hodu Teru is pulled through the Car Street. The devotees are of a firm belief that, as the Lord rides on the chariot, he destroys in a flash all the sins of his devotees, howsoever grave and unpardonable they be. After Rathotsava, Golden Palanquein Utsava and Vasantha Puja are held. That concludes the proceedings for the day.
Day 5 - Hoda Teru and the crowd
Day 6 - Avabritha Utsava (Okkul i.e Holi)
On Magha Shuddha Ashtami (Bheeshmashtami) the Avabhritha is held. When its time for Okkul rarely a few hold themselves back and enjoy the colourful festival to the hilt by participating with full zeal and fervour. The Kodial Okkul is by far the highly famed Okkul among the G.S.B. temples. The fact that people from many other near by towns also take part in it, is enough proof of its popularity.
The day begins with Dwara Puja, Choornotsava, Yajna Visarjane. Then Lord Veera Venkatesha Swamy(Patta Devaru) and Lord Srinivasa(Utsava Murthy) are conveyed to Vasantha Mantapa where the Lord is applied with the Gulal (pink colour) on the face. The bhajans, puja takes place therein, whilst large number of people galore both inside and outside the temple premises splashing water and colours on each other, dancing and rejoicing. Before the Lord comes out for the Pete Utsava, Madasthana takes place in the outer premises of the temple. Pete Utsava in the Golden Palanquein moves through Car Street, Puthu Prabhu lane, Sowkar M. Baba Pai’ s residence(where the idol of Lord Veera Venkatesha Swamy was obtained), Sharavu Temple road, Nandadeep,Jod Mutt Street, Flower market via Car Street to Lower Car Street, Chamargalli, Basavanagudi, Dongerkeri, Field Street, Shri Mahamaya Temple, V.T. Road, Shri Vitobha Temple and then heads towards Shri Srinivasa Nigamagama Pathashala at Temple Tank Colony.
The whole of the Car Festival formally concludes as both Deities are escorted by Chief Priests for the Holy Bath, and unfasten their kankans. After puja in the Pathashala premises, the Utsava finally moves through V. T. Road back to the temple. A tale from the Puranas known as ‘Kavatabandhana’ pertaining to dialogues between Shri Krishna and His wife Satyabhama, as the former returns after his ventures in the forests is narrated. Dwajavarohana will be held to mark the end of Annual Car Festival and both the Deities preside back to their customary Thrones inside Garbha Griha. Naivedya, Madhyana puja, Ratri puja will be followed by Sanna Rathotsava of the Utsava Deity, Lalki Utsava and Vasantha Puja. Kolombe Javan which includes special varities of dishes will be served by the volunteers.
Brief account of Samaradhana
During any religious worship, ritual it is a custom among Hindus to offer food to the Lord in the form of Naivedyam and the same is distributed among the devotees in the form of Prasada in the form of Samaradhana, meaning equal consumption of the Prasada by all the devotees. Samaradhana in which luscious and mouth watering dishes are served, is an integral part of Kodial Teru. Men of all ages enthusiastically volunteer to serve adorned with elegant Patte Todapu, which is mandatory for all volunteers who wish to serve Samaradhana during Kodial Teru.
On first and third day, chane gashi, kuvale sasam, govan kane godshe are the special items. On second and fourth day tori gashi, duddhe upkari form the main dishes. Chane dali godshe and khichidi will served on second and fourth day respectively. Chithranna is the main attraction on Mrigabete. On Hodu Teru chane gashi, kuvale puli koddel and Madgane form the Samaradhana. Apart from this rice,saru and the very famous dalithoy are the common items on all the five days.
The kitchen is closed in all the G.S.B houses during this festival and you can find people in thousands gathered at Car Street to enjoy the festival. The fourth and the fifth day of the festival is typically the most crowded days. You can find people in numbers upto 25,000 at Car Street. You can see many ladies sporting expensive jewlerry and colorful sarees, Men in simple Dhoti and Shirts, Volunteers in Patte Todapu.
Hence, Kodial Teru is one such mega fiesta that any G.S.B(Gowda Saraswath Brahmin) would never choose to skip, howsoever absorbed they be with their schedule. And accordingly Lord Veera Venkatesha Swamy has been utmost gracious to all the devotees who had been a part of his Rathotsava, by bestowing their wishes, aspirations and granting peace of mind.