Celebrating Mosaru Kudike is part of the Mangalorean lifestyle. The purpose of the festival, which comes a day after Krishna Janmashtami, is to celebrate the childhood of Lord Krishna. People celebrate Mosaru Kudike at different places in Mangalore, including Urwa, Neermarga, Kulshekar, Attavar, and Kadri.
On the day of Mosaru Kudike, devotees play loud music, hold special events and cultural programmes, form human pyramids and break earthen pots filled with milk and milk products, dance, organize processions, and burst crackers.
Vittal Pindi in Udupi
In Udupi, Mosaru Kudike is called Vittal Pindi and has a history of over seven centuries. The festival features colourful processions, drawing of chariots, Huli Vesha (Tiger Dance), dance, music, fireworks, decorated earthen pots filled with milk, curds, buttermilk, and coloured water and hung on festooned gopuras, and cultural shows.
They do not form human pyramids in Udupi. Instead, they dress as gopalakas and break the pots with long wooden poles or bamboo sticks. Huge crowds of people watch as the gopalakas break the pots. Whenever a pot breaks, the crowds break into cheers.
At the end of the Vittal Pindi celebrations, they immerse a clay idol of Lord Krishna in the waters of Madhwa Sarovar, a holy lake in Udupi.
History of Mosaru Kudike in Mangalore
People celebrate Mosaru Kudike all over Mangalore. They start building huge frames, rising to a height of at least 15 feet, a few days in advance. The most popular Mosaru Kudike in Mangalore is that held in Attavar.
The credit of being the first locality to celebrate Mosaru Kudike goes to Attavar. In fact, Mosaru Kudike in Attavar has a history of over 100 years as the locality celebrated its 100th Mosaru Kudike in 2009.
The people of Attavar held their first Mosaru Kudike procession from Shri Umamaheshwara Temple in 1909. They then organized a celebration at Vaidyanatha Daivasthana. It did not take long for Mosaru Kudike to quickly evolve into a major festival in Attavar.
Mosaru Kudike presents a charming opportunity to celebrate the childhood of Lord Krishna. Legend says that Krishna was the naughtiest boy in Gokul, breaking into houses with his gopalaka (cowherd) friends and stealing the curds and butter stored in earthen pots. The gopis (women of Gokula) complained to Krishna’s mother Yashoda, but this did not stop Krishna and his friends from stealing butter and curds. Yashoda finally advised the gopis to hang the pots of butter out of the children’s reach. Undeterred, Krishna and his friends formed human pyramids to reach the pots.
Today, the devotees of Krishna celebrate his childhood by building huge wooden frames that rise to a height of 15 feet. They hang pots of curds, milk, buttermilk, and coloured water on these frames. They also decorate the frame with fruits, packets of crisp snacks, bottles of soft drinks, and toys. Devotees then assume the roles of gopalakas, form human pyramids, and break the pots hanging on the frames. They throw the packets of snacks, toys, and fruits to the cheering crowds. In the meantime, loud music is played and water is sprayed on the gopalakas.
Mosaru Kudike has a little-known spiritual meaning. According to Sanskrit scholar G. N. Bhat, each earthen pot represents the human body controlled by the five senses and its contents of butter or curds represent the soul. Seekers who want to realize their selves and attain salvation are required to break through the control of the five elements. This spiritual message is conveyed through the breaking of the pots on the day of Mosaru Kudike.
When I was young, Mosaru Kudike was a simple festival. They just raised a tall wooden pole and hung an earthen pot containing a cash prize on it. The adventurous person who successfully climbed the pole and broke the pot could keep the cash prize. Today, Mosaru Kudike is a grand and colourful affair, featuring multiple pots on tall frames and large groups of gopalakas forming human pyramids.
We had the good fortune of viewing the colourful celebrations near Mangalore Dairy. We literally had to squeeze through the crowds to find a place close to the wooden poles, the earthen pots, the gopalakas, and the huge tanker that sprayed water on the human pyramids. Crowds of people watched and cheered whenever a pot was broken. Goodies such as bottles of soft drinks, fruits, toys, packets of snacks, and flowers were hurled at the crowds. People grabbed these goodies eagerly. When I was engrossed in taking photos, a flying object hit me on the head. For a few seconds, I rubbed my head and thought I was finished.
The celebrations featured large and lively crowds, loud and thumping music, coloured water, and fun and frolic. After breaking the pots, devotees started dancing to the music. The organizers served sheviga payasa (a sweet dish) and packets of snacks to all present. They had raised several Mosaru Kudike frames all over the locality and gopalakas went from one frame to the other to break pots and throw down the goodies.
To sum up the experience in one sentence, we had a jolly good time.