Mathur, the Sanskrit speaking village in Shimoga, Karnataka, is not new to the readers of these columns. This is an attempt to share my experience during a visit to the village where a three-day festival took place.

The annual utsavam for Lord Chenna Kesava Murthy and His Consort, Mahalakshmi, was a grand affair with all the elements of tradition in place.

This festival started on a Poornima day with the utsava murti getting a bath in the waters of the Tunga to the background of Vedic mantras chanted by scholars.

The deity was brought in a palanquin to a chariot, beautifully decorated. It was 10 a.m. and the deity was placed on His mount Garuda and installed in the chariot, which set off in a procession led by nagaswaram players, bhajan singers following them.

Chanting of Vedas

The pitch perfect chant of the Vedas is something unique to the place. The unhurried and harmonious rendition in flawless diction transports one to a different world. .

The car was taken around the four Maada streets. Approximately half way through, around 1.30 p.m., the procession was halted for a sumptuous feast at the village community hall. Pundits and their families and scholars from the neighbourhood, who had gathered for the festival partook of the lunch.

The procession was resumed at 7 p.m. to complete the circumambulation of the Mada streets and it was around 2.30 a.m.

On the next day, again the deity was bathed in the Tunga and the chariot began its run. It was called Rathotsava and the deity with His consort was seated on a horse.

The final day was set aside for the chanting of the Vedas. An interesting highlight was the smearing of holy powder on all gathered. Everybody then went to the river to have a bath. The three-day festival closed with dinner but not before bhajans were sung early in the evening.

Right from the cleanly swept streets that are decorated with marvellous kolams to the conduct of festivals that combines hospitality, the pundits of Mathur showcase heritage quietly. What is more they show that it is possible to make tradition a way of life.

Wish to visit the village and stay in the agraharam? Chenna Kesava Dikshitar is the person to approach. Several foreigners stay in Shimoga and visit the village to learn Sanskrit.

(The writer can be contacted at sbpl@airtelmail.in )

Meet the pundits

The Kalyana Nagar Association, Mandavelipakkam, (No. 29, West Circular Road) has arranged the sambhashanam of the Sanskrit Pundits of Mathur, 9.30 a.m. onwards tomorrow, Saturday, at the Association premises.

For details contact 24952997 and 24611674.