Paryaya is a system in which the eight pontiffs of Udupi undertake the responsibility of worshipping Lord Krishna and manage the temple by turn for a fixed period of time.
The swamiji who is in change of the worship and other rituals is known as the paryay swamiji. His Mutt is then known as the Paryaya Mutt. The duration of the tenure is known as the paryaya period. The ceremony of handing over the charge of Sri Krishna Mutt to the new swamiji is known as the paryaya festival.
Up to the period of Sri Vadiraja the paryaya was taking place once in two months. Thus each swamiji used to get his term once in sixteen months. Then Sri Vadiraja changed this system. He started the tradition of two-year term for the paryaya.
Sri Vadiraja celebrated his first two-year paryaya in his 52nd year in 1532-33 A.D. But it is believed that he did not start the tradition from his own paryaya. One round of the sixteen-year cycle starts from the paryaya of Sri Palimar Mutt. Hence it can be concluded that the first two-year tenure of paryaya might have started from 1522-23 A.D.with the paryaya of Sri Palimar Mutt.
As per this tradition every Mutt had completed 29 two-year terms of the paryaya. The twenty ninth cycle started in 1970-71 with paryaya of Sri Palimar Mutt. The last paryaya of that cycle was completed by the paryaya of Sri Pejawar Mutt which commenced in 1986-87 A.D. with the paryaya of Sri Palimar Mutt. Then this 30th Cycle will end by 2000-2001 A.D. with the paryaya of Sri Pejawar Mutt.
Preparations for Paryaya:
The preliminaries start a year before the paryaya ceremony. The foremost among those rituals are
1. Baale unhurt
2. kaki unhurt
3. Katie mahout
4. batter mahout
This takes place on an auspicious day about a year before the paryaya festival. Plantain and tulsi groves are formally set up on that day.
Each paryaya swamiji requires tulsi leaves for daily services at the Krishna Mutt and plantain leaves for feasts. Banana is needed for offerings to the idol. Hence the swamiji has to start cultivating these plants in the gardens belonging to his Mutt so that by the time the paryaya period starts these rituals can commence with all requirements.
On the day of mahout the priests first pray the nine planets. Then the workers of the Mutt carry the seedlings of the tulsi and the plantain to be planted. The procession moves towards the Krishna Mutt. The royal elephant and other paraphernalia of the Mutt participate in this. They offer prayer at the temples Chandreswara and Anantheswara. They also pray before the shrine of Krishna and offer coins and pray like this. ‘Please bless us so that there should be no dearth of tulsi for your worship and plantain leaves for the dinner.' They also bow down to the idols of Sri Mukhyaprana and Sri Madhvacharya and go back to their Mutt. Then they plant tulsi saplings and banana plants.
This is now celebrated as a ritual rather than a real effort to grow more tulsi or plantain.
Within two months of celebrating the bale mahout they celebrate kaki mahout. Thousands of people are fed during the period of paryaya. During special festivals about five to ten thousands are to be fed. Hence one must have a good stock of rice. The group of rice starts from the harvest time of the previous year.
Like the other ritual after the prayer to the nine planets the procession starts from the Mutt. A pack of rice is decorated and kept in a palanquin. It is covered with a silken cloth. The devotees go behind the palanquin with packs of rice on their head. All officers of the Mutt participate in the procession. They pray at the temples of Chandreswara and Anantheswara.
The swamiji himself conducts this ritual. A special feast is served in the moon. Other swamijis are also invited to the Mutt and honoured.
This is celebrated about six months before the commencement of the paryaya. After collecting rice arrangements are to be made to gather firewood for cooking. Hence this ceremony.
Storing of firewood in an artistic manner is the specialty of Udupi. Firewood is piled up in the shape of a beautiful chariot. This is visible in the North-East corner of the Madhva Sarovara.
This ritual is observed by the artists to commence the building of this beautiful chariot out of the rugged pieces of wood.
After propitiating the nine planets the procession starts with the workers carrying the loads of firewood. After saluting the deities in different temples they reach the place behind the cattle-shed where the chariot of firewood is to be constructed. After the purificatory ritual of the ground the artists commence their work.
Many skilled artists for many days to pile up the firewood and arrange it in the shape of a chariot of fifty feet height. A few days before the Katie mahout of the next paryaya this chariot is dismantled and the firewood is used for cooking.
This ritual takes place about seven or eight weeks before the paryaya. This is arranged to gather paddy from the new crop before the paryaya ceremony. It can be noticed here that al these rituals calculated to acquire leaves for eating. Rice for food, firewood for cooking, paddies for rice have the sole aim namely the continuation of the tradition of mass feeding. That is why Lord Krishna of Udupi is known as anna brahma.
After the prayer the procession starts from the Mutt. A bag of paddy is placed in a palanquin and covered with silken cloth. After saluting the deities in different temples the procession enters the badagu maalige.
The badagu maalige is the official stores house for the paryaya. It is on this day that the authorities of the next paryaya enter this place. The pack of paddy is placed an platform here and the priest offer rituals of worship. The manager of the paryaya Mutt offers fruits and remunerations to scholars. From that day the new paryaya Mutt takes charge of his building.
Another ritual also takes place that day. By that time the chariot of firewood is constructed. A decorated dome is brought along with the procession. It is ceremoniously handed over to the chief architect and then placed on the top of the chariot. By this all preliminary rituals of paryaya are over.
The Pre-Paryaya Tour
About four to five months before the Paryaya ceremony the swamiji goes on a pilgrimage to different holy place. This is known as paryaya puurva sancaara.
After the paryaya the swamiji is not supposed to move out of Udupi. Hence before the ceremony he goes to different places to meet his disciples and invite them for the paryaya festival. He is supposed to visit all centers of pilgrimage from Kanyakumari to Badarikashram and offer services to the deities in those places in order to obtain blessings from the deities for the smooth running of the tenure of paryaya.
On an auspicious day the swamiji offers special prayers to his deities and starts on the pilgrimage. He visits places like Kanyakumari, Rameshwara, Tirupathi, Mathura, Brndavan, Dwarka, Gaya, Kashi, Prayag, Hrshikesh, Haridwar, and Badari etc. After finishing the tour of the Southern as well as the Northern India he returns to his district.
Afterwards he visits the pilgrim centers of the district and finally enters the Udupi town in an auspicious moment.
During this tour to different towns the devotees invite the swamiji and honour him. They also contribute liberally for the expenses of the paryaya.
About ten to fifteen days before the paryaya festival the swamiji concludes his tours and ceremoniously enters the town of Udupi. The entire town is decorated to welcome the swmiji.
A big crowd is seen at the joodu katte at the Udupi Mangalore Road on that day to welcome the swamiji. If the swamiji enters the city from Shimoga side the reception is arranged near the Kadiyali temple on the Udupi-Karkal route. As soon as the swamiji reaches the place he is garlanded by the leaders and the dignitaries of the town. Flowers and fried rice are sprinkled on the route.
From the mantap at the joodu katte the swamiji taken to the car street in procession. The replicas of the great saints as well as the idols of the Mutt are placed in the palanquin and taken in the procession. The musicians play on pipe and other instruments. The scholars chant the hymns of Veda. The swamiji is seated in a decorated chariot. The idols are in the palanquin.
The streets are all well decorated up to the car street. Different archs and Mantaps are constructed en route and they are named after the pontiffs of that Mutt.
When the procession reaches the Car Street the swamiji descends from the chariot and walks upto Chandreshwara, Anantheshwara and then reaches the Krishna Mutt and offers prayers.
At the entrance of his Mutt the nine planets are propitiated and the swamiji enters the Mutt. In a public function at the Car Street the citizens honour the swamiji and offer him felicitations. He is profusely garlanded by the people. The swamiji announces his new plans and projects proposed to be undertaken during the tenure of his paryaya and seek the co-operation of the citizens.
A couple of days before the paryaya the devotees bring rice, jaggery, pulses, vegetables, coconuts and other objects needed for the mass feeding during the festival of paryaya and donate them to the swamiji. These objects are brought in trucks, carts and head loads in processions. The processions pass through different streets of Udupi and enter the Krishna Mutt. The swamiji accepts these contributions and blesses the devotees.
This is a ceremony in which both the swamijis-one who hands over the charge and the other who takes over the charge-donate rice and vegetables to other swamijis of Udupi. All provisions are taken out in procession and sent to different Mutts.
This is arranged because all pilgrims visiting the paryaya festival and staying in different Mutts must be fed and looked after properly. Hence a token contribution is given by the swamiji to different Mutts so that they can offer hospitality to visiting pilgrims. This is arranged as a token of co-operation.
Invitation to Paryaya
A day before the paryaya festival the swamiji goes to different Mutts in procession and personally invites the swamijis for the paryaya rituals.
The heads of other Mutts invite the swamiji to their respective Mutts before the paryaya and arrange a grand feast in honour of the swamiji by offering money as well as other objects like sandal paste etc.
Festival arranged by the outgoing swamiji
The day following that of Makara Sankramana is celebrated as Churnotsava. No festivities are celebrated the following day. The third day is allotted to the out-going swamiji to celebrate his last special services. The fourth day is the day of paryaya.
Normally the festivals fall as per the schedule: 14th January-Sankramana. 15th January-Churnotsava, 16th-Rest, 17th -the festival arranged by the outgoing swamiji. 18th-The paryaya festival.
A special feast is arranged by the outgoing swamiji on the day preceding the paryaya. With the Brahma Rathotsava in the night his responsibilities come to an end. Next day he has to perform the nirmaalya visarjana puujaa only. Afterward it is the duty of the swamiji who takes charge the next day.
The Festival of Paryaya
The swamiji who is to take charge of the Krishna Mutt goes to a place called Danda Tirtha about 10 Kilometers south of Udupi on the previous night. It is the place where Sri Madhvacharya was studying during his childhood. To irrigate the gardens of his teacher he had made canal though his ritual-stick. That pond came to be known as dandatiirtha.
At about 3-00 a.m. after midnight the swamiji gets up and bathes in the holy pond and starts towards Udupi. At about 4-00a.m. he reaches the outskirts of Udupi and a big crowd of devotees welcomes the swamiji at a place known as joodu katte. The other swamijis of Udupi, excepting the one who is to hand over the charge, assemble there. The swamiji who is to hand over the charge stays back at the Krishna Mutt to welcome the new paryaya swamiji there.
The route from the joodu katte to the car street is decorated with festoons and lights. All buildings are illuminated. The arcs and festoons representing different traditions of preceptors provide a grand appearance to the area. Different kinds of drums, trumpets and musical instruments are played. The sound reaches the sky and enlivens the entire area.
As soon as the would -be parayaya swamiji reaches the joodu katte the other pontiffs and the devotees assembled there welcome the swamiji who is now going to have the good fortune of serving Lord Krishna for the next two years.
The swamijis who come to welcome the paryaya swamiji are well dressed with silken shawl and silken headdress. Then all of them sit on their palanquins. The idol of the deity of the would be paryaya Mutt is placed in a palanquin and takes at the head of the procession.
The entire route is well decorated. The trained elephants with howdah on their back and slowly waving fan-like ears go in the front row of the procession. This is followed by different kinds of tableaux and decorated staffs and arcs. Troupes of singers and pipers participate in the procession. The vehicles carrying the idols as well as the singing and dancing in ecstasy, the priests chanting the hymns from the Vedas, the idol of the Mutt in a well decorated golden palanquin and the swamiji in a well decorated palanquin-all these produce the image of a grand pageantry.
Thousands of people come in flocks and gather on both sides of the streets as well as the balconies of the houses en route to witness this historic scene. The procession moves slowly and covers the one-kilometer distance in about two hours.
On reaching the car street the swamijis get down from the palanquin. They walk on the white cloth spread on the road. They circumambulate the car street and reach the Krishna Mutt.
The swamiji salutes the idol of Krishna through the Kanakas' window. The priests pray the nine planets and offer donations of grains and money to learned Brahmins to appease the planets. From there the swamiji goes to the temple of chandreswara and Anantheswara.
At the entrance of Sri Krishna Mutt the out-going swamiji receives the new swamiji and leads him inside by holding his hands. They first descend to the Madhva Sarovara, wash their hands and feet and enter the sanctum sanctorum.
When the two swamijis enter the sanctum sanctorum, the other swamijis proceed towards the building known as Badagu Malige, sit on their decorated seats and wait for the paryaya swamiji.
The swamiji enters the Mutt and places his box of idols in the tiirtha mantapa and waves aarati.
Then both the swamijis enter the sanctum sanctorum and pray before the idol. They also pray before the idol of Mukhya Prana and prostrate before the idols of Sri Krishna, Mukhyaprana and Garuda at the Chandrashala hall.
Then the important ritual of handing over the charge takes place in the room known as simhaasana. Only a few officials of the Mutt participate in this ritual transfer of powers.
The new paryaya swamiji places the box of idols in the sacred seat and waves aarati. Then the outgoing paryaya swamiji sits on the seat of Madhvacharya and takes the would be paryaya swamiji by his side and honours him by offering the sandal paste and other objects of honour.
The next item in the programme is to ascend the throne. The outgoing swamiji gets up from the seat of Madhvacharya, holds the hands of the new incumbent and makes him sit on the seat. He then himself sits down by his side. Soon after the ascent the swamiji is officially known as the paryaya swamiji. The swamijis of the eight Mutts get very few such occasions of occupying this sacred seat sanctified by the association of the great Acharya himself. From the moment the swamiji occupies this seat, he directs all activities and rituals as the representative of Sri Madhvacharya.
Transfer of the aksaya paatra
After exchanging the seats the two swamijis enquire about each other's welfare and go towards the idol of Sri Madhvacharya at the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum. They offer afghan water to the Archery. The outgoing swamiji hands over the aksaya paatra the age-old vessels preserved from the time of Madhvacharya, its ladle as well as the keys to the shrine. With this ritual the management of Sri Krishna Mutt is officially this ritual the management of Sri Krishna Mutt is officially transferred to the new paryaya swamiji.
In the badagu maalige
From there the swamiji proceed towards the badagu maalige building. There the new swamiji honours others swamijis by offering sandal paste and other objects of honour. During the time of Sri Vadiraja the paryaya congregation used to take place in this place.
Congregation at the Arranging open theatre
The last programme of the ceremony is a big congregation known as durbar subhead at the Rajangana. All the swamijis come in procession at about 7-00a.m. to this auditorium. The entire area is already crowed with the people who assembled there with their invitation cards. The place can accommodate about twenty thousand people.
After the chanting of the hymns from the Vedas the swamijis bless the devotees. The outgoing swamiji bids farewell to all and the new paryaya swamiji announces his plans projects for the improvements of facilities at the Krishna Mutt. Leaders and luminaries from different cross-sections of the society felicitate the new paryaya swamiji on this occasion.