His Holiness Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji undertook a pilgrimage tour to Sri Manjunatha Swamy Kshetra, Dharmasthala, in the picturesque Malenadu Region of Karnataka. It is a well-known fact that the administrator of Sri Kshetra Dharmasthala, His Holiness Dr. D. Veerendra Heggade, shares a very cordial relationship with Datta Peetham and had inaugurated the Annapoorna Mandira in Mysore Ashrama in 1991.
The Manjunatha Temple in Dharmasthala, generally follows the tradition of Soura Maana (Solar Almanac System) and shares many typical customs with neighboring Kerala Region. The Soura Maana New Year (called Vishu) starts on 14th April, annually. And this is the sacred period of annual Fair (Utsava) of Dharmasthala. It seemed to the managers that this visit of Sri Swamiji to Dharmasthala is a mere coincidence. But, Sri Swamiji later stated that this is the ordain of Krishna (in Udupi, where the next program is scheduled) that the visit to Dharmasthala should precede the Udupi program and the participation in the Vishu Utsava shall happen.
20th April 2009
Pujya Sri Swamiji started from Mysore Ashrama in the forenoon of 20th April 2009 and briefly halted at Suntikoppa, at the coffee estate of a devotee (from Kodagu) to fulfill his long cherished desire.
He arrived in Dharmasthala and warmly received by Sri Surendra Kumar, one of the senior functionaries and brother of Sri Veerendra Heggade, at Sri Sannidhi Guest House, atop Bahu Bali hills at 5.30 PM. Later, Sri Veerendra Heggade visited to exchange pleasantries and explained the procedures of Vishu Utsava, which is nothing but a vetting process of the administration of the Temple and its estates, programs and charity; by the representatives of Dharma Devata (Presiding deity of Righteousness). Sri Swamiji visited the returning Procession, at Sri Manjunatha Temple and participated in the elaborate ritual from 9.30 PM for about an hour.
21st April 2009
In the morning , Sri Chakra Puja was performed in Sri Sannidhi Guest house, amidst Vedic Chants. Later, Sri Swamiji visited the holy shrine of Lord Manjunatha. This visit was one of the rarest, where all the important people of the ceremonies are said to be in a transcendental state. (The ceremony is to verify the procedures, process, etiquette and morality of administrators and staff serving the temple. Four persons from the clan, representing Dharma Devata, question Heggade, about many aspects of the Temple and Traditions, for which the reply should be in affirmative.) Normally, no outsiders are allowed to be present in this rituals and Sri Swamiji was the only historical exception. Sri Swamiji offered a Silver Garland to Lord Manjunatha and witnessed the hour long Puja. Later, Sri Swamiji was taken on tour to various important places of Dharmasthala, including museum, vintage car display, amenities to pilgrims and the giant monolith statue of Bahu Bali, atop the hill. In the evening, elaborate Vishnu Utsava came to an end with ablutions in the River Netravati, Procession to the Temple and Joyous Spray of Colours (as a mark of gaiety) by all family members and pilgrims, followed by lowering of the Ceremonial Flag (Dhwaja Avarohanam).
At 8 PM, Sri Veerendra Heggade met Sri Swamiji and offered a commemorative memento. He also narrated various welfare programs, undertaken by SDM institutions. He further wished that an elaborate program of Sri Swamiji, including a music concert be held at this sacred place, at the earliest. Pujya Swamiji vowed to return to Dharmasthala, to offer His service to Lord Shiva. Later, Sri Swamiji visited the temple, in the night to witness the last program of the 9 day long Fair, which prays for peace and prosperity to all the citizens thru the grace of Lord Shiva. Thus the historic trip to Dharmasthala concluded.
On the morning of 22nd April 2009, Sri Swamiji started to Udupi.