The Thotta utsavam for Lord Varadaraja of Kanchipuram will be held on April 30. First performed in the early 14th century it is conducted by the Thathacharyas (descendants of Nathamuni, Alavandar, Periya Thirumalai Nambi, Pillan, Padmaksha Desikar, Thirumalai Srinivasachariar, Panchamatha Banjana Thathadesikan, Lakshmikumara Thathadesikan and other luminaries).

Thotta utsavam gained popularity during the lifetime of Sri Kottikannikadanam Royadurgam Lakshmi Kumara Thathadesikan in the 16th century.

This festival is conducted in the month of Chithrai in the garden on the banks of Vegavathy river. Legend has it that the rituals aim to cool the deity who emerged from the sacrificial Ashwamedha yaga fire of Sri Brahma.

Beginining at 5 a.m., the utsavar along with his two consorts (Ubhaya nachiars) are taken out in the heavy golden palanquin. Adorned with Venkatadri Kondai and Lord Robert Clive's Makarakanti, accompanied by Sri Viswaksenar, led by the prabhandham, Vedaparayanam and nagaswaram-thavil goshti, the Lord marches through the four mada streets leading to the garden. The deity is taken to the Mandapam in the garden where after all the Vedic chantings Sri Viswaksenar is honoured first followed by Thathacharayas.

The proceedings

At 12 noon a splendid and elaborate Thirumanjanam is performed. The ‘Kattiyam' service rendered by Thandri Tathacharya Swamigal is an experience to relish. At around 4 p.m. the lord is anointed with saffron paste and is adorned with the new vastram. The evening rituals begin at 7 p.m. and include fireworks with the idols on the swing. The return journey begins at 4.30 a.m.

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