The “Pydithalli utsavam”, is celebrated each year during the months of September and October. This festival is celebrated in, Vizianagram town, situated in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Thousands of devotees, congregate in this town from various parts of Andhra, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, to have the darshan of the “Presiding deity”, of the North Coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh.
SignificanceSri Manu festival is organized to propitiate, Goddess Pydithallamma of Vizianagram Town. Siri means lean and manu means stick. The priest of the Sri Manu temple hangs from the tip of a long lean wooden stick, about 60 feet long and is taken in a procession between the Vizianagram fort and the temple 3 times in the evening.
The priest possessed by the Goddess, would tell a few days before, as to where this stick has to be procured. The Rajas of Vizianagram oversee this event.
Origin of the Utsavam“Pydithalli Ammavaram”, is the village Goddess of Vizianagram . This Ammavaru is a sister of the Kings of Vizianagram. During the “Battle of Bobbili”, in 1757 ,the entire Bobbili fort got destroyed and many soldiers lost their lives while safeguarding the fort.
The sister of Vijaya Rama Raju, Sri Pydithalli, the then ruling king of Vizianagram tried to stop the battle, but her attempts to stop the battle failed. By that time she was suffering from a neuro- muscular disease called Masuchi, where one loses the ability to use their limbs. When Pydimamba was doing puja, she came to know that her brother Vijay Rama Raju had died in the battle of Bobbili.
Hearing this news she fainted and after she regained her consciousness, she told Appalanaidu who was by her side at that time that she would not live any longer but she would be found in the Goddess and her statue will be found near the west side of a pond situated near the fort, now located in the heart of Vizianagram town.
The fishermen of Vizianagram found the idol of Pydimamba and constructed a temple called “Vanam Gudi”, for the Goddess.
Rites and RitualsEach year on the 1st Tuesday after Vijayadasmi, Srimanu utsav is celebrated. A fortnight before the utsav, the Goddess Pydimamba comes in a dream, to tell the temple Pujari where to find the Sirimanu. After the Sirimanu is found, the Pujari, performs puja to the Sirimanu and then this stick is placed over the Sirimanu chariot.
After the Pujari has a darshan of the Goddess, he sits of the Sirimanu chariot and this is taken in a procession between the fort and the temple 3 times in the afternoon. The Vizianagram Rajas perform puja before the Sirimanu and present new clothes to the Pujari of the temple.
In front of the Sirimanu, a chariot, shaped like a white elephant is placed before it. Since Sri Pydimamba passed away before getting married, a second chariot called,” Anjali chariot”, is placed near the Sirimanu, where 5 married women are made to sit in this chariot. Over this chariot a “Paladhara”, an umbrella made with fishing nets decorated with fruits and flowers is put up. The fishermen of Vizianagram have an important part to play in this utsavam, since they only got the statue of Pydimamba out of the pond.
The fishing nets of these fishermen are placed above the Sirimanu, and they participate in this utsavam in a huge way. Usually the festivities begin at 4pm , when the deities are taken out in a procession through the main streets of Vizianagram, amidst chanting of bhajans.
This utsavam, is limited to only one day, and after the devotees have a darshan of the Goddess, disperse to their respective places .