Float Festival in Govindaraja swamy Temple
Tirupati was called ‘Govindaraja Pattanam’ in earlier days during the period of Ramanuja. It was Ramanuja who consecrated and built the temple of GovindaRaja Swami by the side of Sri Parthasarathy temple in the year 1130 on February 24th. From then, the rituals are being conducted same as in the Tirumala temple. Ramanujacharya ordered Yadava kings to arrange all dittams and utsavams that is being performing in Tirumala Hills should also be performed in Govindarajaswamy Temple. As Ramanuja stated that both standing and reclining Gods are the same, Prativadi Bhayankaram Annan a great poet and Acharya purusha has mentioned in his Govindaraja Mangalasasanam.
Narayanaya Nathaya Vasudevaya Vishnave |
Namna Govindarajaya Bhoomne Bhavathu Mangalam ||
Let there be Auspiciousness to Lord Govindaraja who is called by the names Narayana Natha, Vasudeva and Vishnu. As per the wish of Bhagavad Ramanuja since then, all the Festivals Daily, weekly, Fortnightly, monthly and yearly are celebrated in Govindarajaswami Temple. Hence Sri Govindarajaswami Temple is always with one or the other Festivals.
Float festival in Govindaraja swamy temple is an important Annual Festival that is being performed during Magha month (Feb) Suddha Ekadasi and ends on Full moonday. The Float Festival is called “Teppotsavam” in Telugu in tamil it is called “Tirupalli vodam” and in Sanskrit as Plavotsavam. There is lot of significance to the float festival. It has spiritual, social and devotional importance. A spiritual atmosphere is created because of the Lord’s presence, all people mingle irrespective of Caste, Creed colour or gender etc., Annamayya Keerthanas are sung in the boat with ecstasy. “Teppa” or “boat” is a tool to cross the waters and go to the other side. For a Sadhaka (devotee) to cross the ocean of misery, difficulties faced in life has to cross the ocean of Samsara or bondage and claim or opt for liberation. Hence boat is a tool to cross and reach the other shore or side for the good. The sinner has to cross the ocean of sins committed by him knowingly and unknowingly to seek expiation for all the sins committed by him. Hence God takes you from the ocean of sins and protects you. By seeing the Lord with His Consorts in the Float Festival Jeeva (Devotee) has to pray to the Lord to forgive his sins.
Every festival has its significance and here Lord on the float gives His abundance blessings on us. The float festival of Lord Govindaraja Swami is a feast to the eyes. The well decorated square type boat with electrical illumination, the banks of the tank on all the four sides with huge picture of Gods in electrical designs and the tank bend with welcoming Arches will certainly make us feel that we are in the another world. The TTD takes lot of interest in making arrangements for the Annual float festival in a grand manner. Each Pushkarini has different names like Swami Pushkarini for Lord Venkateswara, Varaha Pushkarini for Varahaswami and Padma Sarovaram for Sri Padmavathi Ammavaru and the Pushkarini of Lord Govindaraja Swami is called Govinda Pushkarini. Govinda Pushkarini of Lord Govindarajaswami will be decorated on all the Seven days with flowers, Mango leaves and Plaintain trees on all sides inside and outside the square boat.
Float for Seven Days
The Float festival will be held for 7 days in Magha month starting with Suddha Ekadasi and
ending on the Poornima day. First day of the festival will be for Kodandarama Swami, with Sita and Lakshmana, Second day for Parthasarthy Swami with His consorts and third day for Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami and fourth day is Andal and Krishna Swami and fifth, sixth and seventh days for Govindarajaswami with His Consorts.
First Day of the Festival
On the first day, Sri Kodandarama Swami with Sita devi, Lakshmana Swami and Anjaneya Swami will be taken round the tank in the decorated boat. The Teppotsavam or Float of Sri Kodandarama Swami will bring us back to our memory the sailing of Sri Rama, Sita and Lakshmana in the boat of Guha the Chief taking them to cross the Ganges and reach Chitrakootam for their stay during the fourteen year exile. That boat journey was a sad event and Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were wearing bark dress to show that they are going to the forest as hermits. Now on this day we see happily Rama, Sita and Lakshmana in gorgeous dress with resplendent jewels. Sita Devi particularly with more ornaments looks like a happy beautiful queen of Ayodhya and both Rama and Lakshmana also wear dress with their bows and quivers tied behind them with arrows filled in them.
There will be three rounds around the tank. In the first round Vedaparayanam Pandits with Tholappacharya family member will be recited in chorus. The second round will be the songs of Annamacharya sung by vocal artists. And in the third round Nadaswaram Vidwans of the temple will play their instruments with devotion. After the end of third round harathi will be given to Sri Rama, Sita and Lakshmana by Archaka Swami handed over by Ekangi (Jeerswami’s Assistant). Then Sri Rama with his Consort Sita and Lakshmana will be taken round the tank bend and Harathi by Devotees will be given. After coming out from the tank, Lord Rama with His consort and Lakshmana will be taken through the Govindarajaswami Sannidhi street upto the temple entrance of Lord Govindarajaswami. There in the Vahana mandapam there will be Asthanam with Naivedyam offering to Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana. After the asthanam, Sri Kodandarama will be taken out to His temple through South mada street and reach the temple. The Teppotsavam to different Gods are arranged according to the yuga they belongs. First Rama of tretayuga starts the festival. This gives a joy to the people to see the Gods of different Yugas and blesses sitting on the steps of the tank, the Bhaktas enjoy the nice breeze, cool breeze due to the wave touching the waters of the tank. Old, young and children irrespective of age witness the float festival for seven days.
Second Day of the Festival
The second day is marked for Sri Parthasarathy Swami and His consorts Rukmini and Satyabhama. Here on the tank steps of the Govinda Pushkarini the devotees throng to witness the float of Sri Parthasarathy Swami (Charioteer of Arjuna). The devotees experience the Dvapara yuga after Tretayuga the previous day. Lord Parthasarathy Swami with His consorts enters the boat amidst the play blow of Nadaswaram and conch and occupies the seat on the raised dais. After harathi the Float will be pushed by a rudder (a long bamboo stick) to move the boat. A man at the corner will be pushing with strong long bamboo stick stuck to the steps for movement. Here again Sri Parthasarathyswami with His consorts takes three rounds of the tank with Veda Parayanam, Annamayya Keerthanas and Nadaswaram. After the float, Sri Parthasarthy Swami with His Consorts takes round on the tank bend with ‘Sarkar’ harathi in the corners and harathi by devotees through out. After that Sri Parthasarathyswami with His Consorts will be taken in procession through four mada streets and enters the temple through Sannidhi streets.
Third Day of the Festival
On the third day, after Tretayuga, Dvapara Yuga comes Kaliyuga. During Kaliyuga it is Lord Venkateswara the presiding deity. Kalou Venkatanayakaha, Sri Kalyana Venkateswara Swami with His Consorts Sri Devi and Bhudevi enter the boat on 3rd day. The devotees are
enthralled to have a darshan of Lord Srinivasa at Tirupati Govinda Pushkarini. The hardship they have to undertake for Darshan is easily available at Tirupati. The Lord descends in the form of Kalyana Venkateswara Swami accompanied by Sri Devi and Bhudevi. To see Lord in Govinda Pushkarini is a boon given by the Lord in the form of Sri Kalyana Venkateswara here at Sri Govindarajaswami Temple. The Lord takes three rounds in the tank in the square type illuminated boat amidst Vedaparayanam, Annamayya Keertanam and Nadaswaram. Again Sri Kalyana Venkateswara Swami with His Consorts takes round on the bank of the tank with harathi given by Devotees. Afterwards He proceeds to South Mada street, West and North Mada street and finally enters His abode through Sannidhi street. The temple of Lord Kalyana Venkateswara Swami with Sri Devi and Bhudevi is located in the Kalyanotsava mandapam of Sri Govindaraja Swamivari temple.
Fourth Day of the Festival
On fourth day Sri Andal or Goda Devi an Avatar of Bhudevi along with Sri Krishna adorns the boat. She is the most beautiful, learned devotee of Lord Krishna. She wanted to marry Lord Sri Ranganatha only. She composed 143 Pasurams in which 30 Pasurams or stanzas called ‘Tiruppavai’. The thirty Pasurams are her outpourings of Bhakti and Prapatti. During the Margali month (Dec-Jan) all her 30 poems are recited in the early hours in Tirumala temple instead of Suprabhatham with fervor and devotion. So, on the fourth day Andal with Sri Krishnaswami enter the boat and occupy their seat on the dais. Asusual after harathi by Jeeyangar or Ekangi, the boat starts moving round the tank and three rounds will be taken. Then, Vedaparayanam, Annamayya keerthanams and Vadyam will echo through public address system. After coming out of the pushkarini, Andal with Sri Krishna Swami are taken in procession around the four Mada streets and enter the temple of Sri Govindarajaswamivari temple.
Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Day of the Festival
Lord Govindarajaswamivaru with His Consorts Sri Devi and Bhudevi participats on three days as he is the prominent presiding deity of the temple. Sri Govindarajaswami either moolavarlu or presiding deity is more attractive. The sitting posture or (Bhangima) of Sri Govindarajaswami with His right hand palm showing the upadesa mudra and His mode of sitting is more elegant with graceful eyes. For this Maharaja or Rajadhiraja the Float festival is for three days. First day five rounds, second day five rounds and third day 7 rounds! When once He enters the pushkarini “Govinda Govinda Govinda” reverberates throughout hailing Him for His arrival and seeking blessings for Moksha. With the increase in the arrival of the devotees on the last three days, people from all walks of life throng to the tank bend to have a glimpse of Lord Govindarajaswami and His Consorts Sri Devi and Bhudevi. Fifth and sixth day the float festival performs for five rounds, followed by Veda Parayanam Annamayya keertanam and Nadaswaram. It takes some time to take a round to float the boat from one round to another, mean while, most of the people are from nearby places or around the temple they come with their children and talk each other’s welfare. The float festival is not only for Swami Karyam but also works for Swakaryam too. On the Seventh Day the last day of the Float festival, Lord Govindarajaswami arrives to the tank bend with the devotees hailing Him as Govinda.He enters that day with His consorts and takes seven rounds in the tank. Then, Swami with His Consorts goes round the tank bend and goes to Govindarajaswamivari temple. There will be Naivedyam and Asthanam. After which the Lord will go round the big streets instead of Mada streets which He has covered on the two days. After going round the big streets the Lord enters His temple with all gaiety and honour. On all the days the temple elephant take part and goes round all the places behind procession.