Alankaara Pooja

The next ritual is the decoration of Sri Krishna with various kinds of ornaments, armours, and halo-like arches. Rice, pudding, laddus, flat rice, curds, kosumbari, etc., are offered and sixteen aarati-s are waved. During alankaara (decoration), the navagraha window is closed to devotees.

Once the alankaara Pooja is completed, devotees can have darshana with Sri Krishna wearing His new ornaments and costumes. The icon of Sri Krishna is decorated differently each day to present a new image to the devotees. The only part of the icon not covered is the face. If Krishna wears a golden halo one day, He is dressed in an armor of diamonds the next, and so on. The icon is presented as the incarnation of Matsya (fish), Kuurma (tortoise), and Parashuraama or Raama on different occasions. There is a large treasure trove of ornaments made of silver, gold, diamonds, pearls and other costly stones. Many kings of Vijayanagar and from the Mysore palace have offered ornaments through the ages, to Krishna. As seen in the picture shown, the icon when dressed as the charioteer of Arjuna is quite breathtaking. This decoration is one of the special seva-s offered to Udupi Sri Krishna. The utsava-muurti is made of metal and is of the ‘traditional’ South Indian style. The main Krishna icon in the garbha-guDi is of stone. In the photograph, the main icon of Krishna is standing as it always does, but it has been decorated with an armour of handbeaten gold and silver. The four white horses pulling the chariot are of silver and the chariot is made of gold. Arjuna’s icon is silver. The horses are placed in front of Sri Krishna in such a way as their tails are in front of His legs. The chariot is also arranged in such a way as to complete the illusion that Krishna is really sitting in the driver’s seat. Sri Krishna’s hands are made of gold; His right hand is in fact placed on the churning rod and his left is attached at his waist. These decorations are arranged to be at a slight angle so that the chariot would appear to be travelling from, say, north-east to south-west, not in a straight line across one’s vision. This makes everything appear to be quite real.