Rathotsavam – Car Festival 2018

There is one ceremony or the other almost daily for Lord Venkateswara manifest on Tirumala.

Different ceremonies are conducted on a grand scale for the Lord with different time frames— daily, fortnightly, monthly and yearly. Of them, special mention may be made of annual Brahmotsavas.

Devotees go on raptures witnessing the Lord on different carriages and earnestly wait for the next earliest opportunity to visit them. Brahmotsavas are conducted twice this year much to their jubilation.

Because of the addition of one month as per the Telugu Calendar, two categories of Brahmotsavas are conducted this year, namely—Salakatla and Navaratri (nine-day).

Rathotsavam 2018
Malayappa Swamy Varu along with his consorts – Sri Devi and Bhu Devi

Divine Chariot fulfilling Desires

On the eighth day morning of Brahmotsavas, Malayappa Swami along with His consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi goes on a procession in the Chariot (wooden chariot) which is high like the Meru mountain.

What is special about this is the devotees themselves drag the chariot taking the reins, because it is believed that the sight of the Lord on the chariot will cut the chain of births. The car festival has a unique philosophical knowledge to offer. Kathopanishat aptly compares the relationship between the soul and the body to the chariot tour. Body is the chariot. Sensibility is the charioteer.

Rathotsavam 2018

Rathotsavam 2018

A mind is the reins. Senses are the horses. Sensual pleasures are the paths trodden. Soul, an aspect of the Supreme Soul within, is the master of the chariot. This simile teaches us by implication that one should restrain the senses through the reins of mind, let the body-chariot go on the right track led by the sensibility-charioteer, and recognize the Supreme Soul through the embodied soul, the master of the chariot and attain redemption by serving Him.

It also suggests that there won’t be any difficulty even if the track is up and down provided the wheels of the chariot are properly fixed and the devotion, i.e. the mind-chariot is unswerving.