Girija Virupaksha Kalyana utsava


kalyana_murthi2We have been doing projects and programs about “Girija Kalyana” the Story. Is about the wedding of the most popular mythical character Shiva and his cosmic mate Parvathi who is known by the name Girija, as she is the daughter of King Giriraja according to this story cited from Shiva Purana.

Girija Virupaksha Kalyana  celebration






By closer introspection of Hampi’s heritage, local folklore, culture, people and celebrations, we see different and eminent scenes and events from the story of Girija Kalyana to be embedded in the lifestyle.

Shiva Parvati






The important aspect to be noted is, the relation between Hampi and Girija Kalyana, let’s see, how?

Hampi is essentially been a Shaivite region-which reveres the god Shiva as the Supreme Being, located on the banks of Tunga-Bhadra river. Many places related to Shaivism can be found here in Hampi. Namely, the foremost is the “Panchalinga” which marks the outskirts for Hampi, where the Lord Virupakasha temple is the center of the area, hence these places are also called as “Hampiya Meregalu “ or “ Hampiya Gadigalu “ literally meaning the borders.

Hampi Veerupaksha temple

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The five lingas are named, Somanatha, jambunatha, kinnaresvara, vanibhadresvara and mulavirupaksha. Colossal temple complexes with superior architecture, large mountains in the landscape, can be seen around these five places.

This depicts the magnitude and scale of Hampi being a prominent centre for Shaiva Siddhanta(Philosophy of Shiva). Historically, these temples were under the administration by different Kingdoms, likewise with the King’s affinity towards the philosophy has brought magnificent additions to temples, it’s heritage, architecture and administration. Thus, uplifting and depicting the greatness in the Philosophy.

Festival Culture

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Second and the most important fact being, these stories are not just created, but is in the essence of the local folklore, culture, festivals, people and thus embracing the philosophy behind.

The local geographical/topographical details of Hampi and it’s tradition is cited in many Puranas. Namely, Shiva Purana, Vaishnava Purana, Jaina Purana, Sthala Purana and Janapada Purana. The subject of our Interest “Girija Kalyana” the story is an excerpt from the Shiva Purana, hence making this the most important relation to Hampi.

Girija Kalyana, as the name suggests is the story about the penance undertaken by Girija or Parvati and the ordeals faced by her in the effort to marry Shiva. The epic wedding of Shiva and Paravati is followed after the “ kunda Vijaya” or annihilation of Manmatha who tries to break Shiva’s intense “Tapas” or meditation for wellness of this entire creation. Manmatha story goes like this,  knowing of Shiva’s meditation, the demonic forces in the world go crazy, haunting the Seers, not allowing them to perform their duties. When Brahma along with indra and other gods reached Vishnu for help, he could see from his divine perception that only Son of Shiva can kill this demon, and for that Shiva’s penance needs to be broken and he needs to marry Pampamma. So all the seer s needed help from Shiva, in order to destroy evil. However, all seers and gods know how angry Shiva could get, it could even destroy the Universe. For very purpose, Lord Vishnu calls for his son Manmatha ( God of Love) and asks him to use all his divine powers to get Shiva’s heart to flower with love for Pampaambika. Manmatha  and his mate Rathi, were advised of precautions required, while they should disturb Shiva and get him out of his meditation. Manmatha succeeds in his mission.

Pampa sarovara, Manmatha tank Hemkuta hills

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However, angry Shiva burns him to ashes with his Third eye. And this place of Annihilation of Manmatha, per the ancient texts is today’s “Manmatha Kunda” in Hemakoota, this part of the story is quite famous with the folk and theater community, played under the name of “ Manmatha Vijaya” literally meaning win over Manmatha. Similarly, other places like “ Hanumantha Pampa Sarovara”, “Ratnakoota” are related to geographical/topographical evidence for this Story to have occurred in Hampi, and we can also see this documented by Poet Harihara in his work Pampa Mahatme Girija-kalyana-mythological-story also.







Also, these stories have been adapted with the local folklore, many events from the story are quite famous which are verses sung by the folk singers / Oral narrators mostly passed down through ancestors, through speech with no text references. Relating to this, we have already documented the works Huligamma a oral narrator from Kamalapura, and her work which takes us through the family life of Shiva, Parvati and Ganga. Apparently Ganga being Shiva’s second wife. Events leading to Shiva’s second marriage and other events of love between Shiva and Parvati, is well embraced by the local folklore in the banks of Tunga-Bhadra river.

The Shiva Philosophy in this region was thus encouraged by the local communities whose class were divided by their labor, to name a few are the Grazers(Pashupalaka samudaya), Farmers/agri (Krushika samudaya), Tribals (Budakattu Samudaya) and Nomads (Alemaari samudaya). And all these communities and their culture relates to Shiva and his philosophy, thus participating in all annual rituals and festivities since ages.

Phala-puja – the engagement of Shiva and Parvati.

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And in particular we have observed that Girija Kalyana the event, is celebrated as festivals in each of the local communities annually, and thus showing this to be a important social knot between the local population allowing for the culture to grow and evolve. One of the local celebration or ritual is the “Phala Pooje” observed during the end of November or begin of December, called “Sharad Ritu” as per the Hindu Calender. This ritual marks the engagement of Shiva and Parvati. This ritual is performed in the Kodandarama Temple, Near the Chakra Teertha.

 Wedding rituals

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All rituals which encompasses a Hindu wedding is performed with the idols of Virupaksha and Hampamma. People from all communities in the local area believe in these rituals to bring good luck to one self and their family, and have been following the tradition, till date.


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After the engagement rituals, follows the Wedding preparation. The Wedding rituals are performed in the Virupaksha temple. The center of the temple complex has the Kalyana mantapa or the marriage altar which is a dedicated place in the temple for the marriage event.

Utsava moorti, Meravanige moorti and Kalyanada Moorti

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The marriage altar is decked with flowers and silk, the idols from Virupaksha temple, namely the “ Utsava moorti”, “ Meravanige moorti” and “ Kalyanada Moorti” all having different purposes is brought to the Marriage altar. To the left of the marriage altar is a “Yajna Shaale” used to perform the formal shaivite wedding rituals like Homa and Yagas meaning sacrifices offered through fire.


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The Seers from the “Vidyaranya Math” also play an important role in the wedding rituals. As all events follow a traditional Hindu/Shaivite wedding protocols, and thus the seers are observed to be from the Bride and Groom’s family. The local communities get together being the witness for the wedding, and they also bring new clothes as gifts to the newly wed couple.

Gifts to the newly wed couple

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The events proceed, “Mangalya daarana(Tying the holy knot)”, “Ungura shastra (exchange of rings)”, “Vastra vinimaya (exchange of cloths)”, “Muttina nyvedya (Offering of pearls)” and exchanging garlands and so forth. These rituals are performed during late evenings,


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Following the wedding, there is week long celebration in the temple, which is called the “Kalyanotsava”, which also is the annual fair. During this week long fair, the “ Meravanige moorti” or the idols meant for processions, are decorated in different, ornament, flowers and silk, and carried on differently decorated carts or “Ratha”. The week long rituals are named as following based on the design of the Cart used for the day: “ Chandra Mandala Utsava (Moon-cart)”, “ Garudotsava (Eagle-cart)”, “Nandi Utsava (holycow-cart)”, “ Sooryotsava (Sun-cart) ”, “Ashvatotsava (horse-cart)”, “ Shayanotsava (snake-cart)”, and “Gajotsava (Elephant-cart)”. The fourth day of the fair, is observed to be most auspicious, people bring Clothes and ornaments as offerings to the god, and the Wedding or Kalyana is on the final day of this fair.


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The day after the Kalyanotsava fair, is called “Rathotsava”, and the significance of this event is that, the newly wed couple is carried out in the Main temple cart, into the “Raja Beedi” or main street.

“Raja Beedi” or main street.

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And finally the culmination of the Wedding celebrations is observed with, an event called “ Teppotsava” meaning ride in a saucer shaped boat. The newly wed couple is taken out on to Tunga-Bhadra river in the saucer shaped boat (Teppa). This event is celebrated on a full moon night, and to mark this, the day is also called as “Hampi Hunnime” or also “ Phala Poojeya Hunnime”.


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The local adaptation of Girija Kalyana into the lifestyle and culture of the local communities is an astounding fact, and in relation to this we have some observations.Shiva and Parvati.Shiva and Parvati.

On the top or roof of the Marriage altar or the Kalyana Mantapa, we can see beautiful mural paintings depicting the Girija Kalyana scene, also showing the other gods attending the epic wedding, with other prominent Seers (rishi/munis and Mahatmas) blessing the newly wed Shiva and Parvati. This mural paintings show, that Girija Kalyana has been a part of Hampi’s heritage.

Murals paintings

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Also, as mentioned earlier, the local communities from villages in and around Hampi, have their own versions of celebration of the Girija Kalyana, performed on the same day of “ Hampi Hunnime”. People in Hampi, participate in the week long fair to be a part of the epic wedding, and people who cannot visit the Virupaksha temple, celebrate the marriage rituals at home, like how it is done in the temple.

Apart from these, Hampi’s Girija Kalyana is found to be cited in a collection of ancient texts from different regions called the “ Sthala puranas “. For example, After losing Sati, Shiva goes into deep meditation (Tapas). Per the ancient texts, it is said that Shiva sat for his meditation in the todays “Moola Virupaksha” temple in Hemakoota.

To conclude, Throughout history of Hampi and it’s heritage, we can see the downfall of empires like “Vijayanagara empire”, even societies “Vaishnava Samaaja”, “The Rashtrakoota samaaja”. But still we see excerpts from ancients texts and stories, embedded into common peoples lifestyle, culture and society and thus allowing for everlasting preservation. With further research and study, we find such a close relation to “Girija Kalyana” and to the local societies. Like how Hampi is famously referred to as the Mythical city of “Kishkindha”(City of Apes-from Ramayana), we now can see this place with new light, as region of “Girija Kalyana” too.

The Girija Kalyana Story: Hampi
Narrated by: Prof. Chaluvaraju, Kannada University, Hampi.

Mural painting Photo Credit: NID, Balaji Srinivasan, Vijayashree C S


Girija Kalyana Story – English version, Kannada version

Harihara’s Girija Kalyana manuscript