Brahmakalashotsavaḥ - An Unforgettable Utsava
By Smt Sadhana Kaikini
From the 15th to the 19th of April 2021, the rare and auspicious Brahmakalashotsavaḥ was held in the Shrī Chitrāpur Mat͟h, Shirālī. A religious event that happens only once in 24 years, the Brahmakalashotsavaḥ is an act of loving atonement by the devotees to their Beloved Lord. It offers a cleansing of sorts for any 'tṛṭi' or errors that might have inadvertently happened over the years. The beautiful event was held in the Divine Presence of our Beloved Mat͟hādhipati, Parama Pūjya Sadyojāt Shaṅkarāshram Swāmījī and of course with the rest of our Revered Guruparamparā as Silent, Invisible Witnesses blessing the proceedings. In spite of the fear of the pandemic, blessed were those who witnessed the ceremonies on all the 5 days - mostly locals As per the ādesha of Parama Pūjya Swāmījī, covid appropriate behaviour i.e. social distancing norms & the wearing of masks were strictly followed.
On 15th April, the Sāmūhika Prārthanā made by Ved Ulman Bhaṭ on behalf of all the Chitrāpur Sāraswat-s in front of the Hoḍī Samādhi to Lord Bhavānīshaṅkar, set off the ceremonies. Every day, yajña-s and homa-s were held and offerings were made to the respective deities. As a prelude to the last and most important ceremony on the 19th, the homa-s that can be specially mentioned are the Ganapati Atharvashesha Homa, Navagraha Homa and the Nava Chaṇḍikāhoma. The Rātri Raṅga Pūjā at the shrines of Mahāgaṇapatī and Devī Bhuvaneshwarī were a delight to watch. Parama Pūjya Swāmījī's upastithī all through the ceremonies added an extra glow.
The floor of the Mat͟h was bedecked with colourful Mandala-s that challenged the most exquisite carpets! One watched with awe at the finesse with which the young archaka-s armed with bowls of coloured powders drew an array of Mandala-s. Back breaking work indeed, but something passed on through generations that had yielded a kalā so unique, that it drew sighs of appreciation from the amazed onlookers!
Hands were kept busy preparing the kalasha-s and the other items that were a vital part of the Brahmakalashotsavaḥ. The event had attracted more than the number expected and thus an extra area with extra kalasha-s had been allocated to include the devotees who wished to participate even in absentia. The 1009 kalasha-s planned originally grew into an enormous number - 1254 kalasha-s - to accommodate the devout fervour of the participating laity. These included the two pradhāna kalasha-s that were the offering made by Ashok Chandāvarkar mām Praveeṇ KaḍĪe mām.
Masons and workmen were in the meantime busy with setting up scaffolding for the final Kalasha Abhisheka on 19th April.
Our Mat͟h was definitely a place where every divine being would love to come on that auspicious day – the 19th of April! All through the night, men had stayed up to put up the floral decorations. Zerbaras, marigolds, asters and roses had been interwoven into fresh green leaves and ferns. The swaying banana stems flanking the shrines and the mango leaf toraṇa-s plus the fragrance of the Koḍiāl Mogre and the beautiful champā and pārijataka flowers at every Samādhi added to the divine atmosphere.
Our beloved Rāmāñjaneya looked even more stately and elegant to welcome all who walked in that day. Devī Bhuvaneshwarī looked extra radiant in peacock blue with Mahāgaṇapatī alongside dressed in a lovely bright pink aṅgavastra and the serene Ādi Shaṅkarāchārya on the other side draped in an orange aṅgavastra! These three main deities had a bigger smile perhaps, on seeing the decorated floor in front of the temple area. The floor with the massive yet intricate Mandala had been filled with the kalasha-s, each with the complete set of fruit, flower, jānve, bhairās and aṅgavastra set. The centre piece was a beautiful 'Mukha' of Lord Shiva and just above was the idol of Lord Bhavānīshaṅkar. The whole ensemble was placed on the two pradhāna kalasha-s that had been artistically decorated.
The traditional Vadya and the auspicious shaṅkha vādana announced the arrival of Parama Pūjya Swāmījī and then began the festivities. The General Manager of our Mat͟h Nārāyaṇ Mallāpur mām and Suman Mallāpur Pāchī, our Pradhāna Archaka, Nāgesh HaĪdipur mām and Aparṇā HaĪdipur Pāchī were dressed in the traditional style. Set atop their grand turbans, the kalasha-s that the men carried around the Mat͟h looked even more glorious! Chants from the Veda-s filled every corner of the Mat͟h as the archaka-s together recited the mantra-s in unison, with Ved Ulman Bhaṭ leading them all. It was soon time for the sacred waters in the kalasha-s to reach their final destination - the Hoḍī Samādhi! Archaka-s and devotees including yuvā-s , happily made a line to pass the kalasha-s as soon as possible to the Lotus Hands of Parama Pūjya Swāmījī. 1254 kalasha-s were passed cheerfully from one hand to the other, travelling to do the Jalābhis͟heka at the Holy Shrine of Parama Pūjya Prathama Shaṅkarāshram Swāmījī's Samādhi. All of them were then passed back for they would be sent as prasāda later to those who had offered them.
Parama Pūjya Swāmījī's ceaseless pouring of the sacred jala continued untiringly for nearly 5 hours with the same dṛd͟ha nis͟ht͟hā and bhāvanā. All those watching could only join hands in sheer joy and gratitude at the Gurushakti that made this happen. Jubilant shouts of ‘Oṁ Namaḥ Pārvatī Pataye Hara Hara Mahādeva' rang through the Mat͟h Sabhāṅgana when the last kalasha was emptied on the Shivaliṅga.
With after just a small short interval, Parama Pūjya Swāmījī returned for the finale of the Brahmakalashotsavaḥ. People had already gathered under the Ashwata Vṛks͟͟ha opposite ti in front of the Mat͟h from where they could watch the Kalasha Abhisheka. Some others had found a vantage point near the guest houses and had thus gathered there to watch the grand finale. With their masks on and their enthusiasm high inspite of the burning rays of Sūryadeva, everyone joined in and sang smaraṇa-s as Parama Pūjya Swāmījī performed Abhishek on the Shikhara. The ‘cheṇḍe’, the drums, the jaghāṇṭa and the shehnāī reached a crescendo to herald the completion of this mammoth event. The Brahmakalashotsavaḥ had been completed with grandeur and would undoubtedly bring in even more grace into our blessed Chitrāpur Sāraswat Samāja!
This report would be incomplete if there was no mention made of the hectic activity that went on post the event. Keshav Sorab mām was the chief architect! Cartons were brought in. Items were segregated. Plans were made to dispatch the kalasha prasāda to each sabhā at the earliest. Small teams sat to sort out, pack and prepare for the same. A complete set included the kalasha, a set of aṅgavastra, a jānve, a bottle of tīrtha, and a packet of dry fruits along with a packet of the sacred vibhūtī. All this was placed in the cloth bag that came from the manufactured at Saṁvit Sudhā.
Together We Can became the slogan as all of them in small teams sat, maintaining social distancing, to sort out the prasada packets lent a helping hand to the mām-s and pāchī-s who spread themselves from one end of the Sabhāṅgana to the other. Fast disappearing sets were soon placed into cartons, duly numbered and earmarked for their respective sabhā.
On 19th April, there was a small Dharma Sabhā and on behalf of the Chitrāpur Sāraswat Samāja, Mallāpur Nārāyaṇ mām and Suman pāchī performed Shrī Pādukā Pūjana and Kanakābhis͟heka. A five day Utsava that had truly uplifted all who were involved had finally come to an end.
Oṁ Namaḥ Pārvatī Pataye Hara Hara Mahādeva!