Mukkoti Ekadasi festival December 2023 at Narasimha Swamy temple, Mangalagiri, Andhra

Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple gopuram,Mangalagiri 

Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple, Mangalagiri

Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, one of the eight sacred the eight mahakshetras of Narasimha dedicated to Vishnu in India is a popular one in Mangalagiri in Guntur district of Andhra. The eight sacred temples are are (01) Sri Rangam, (02) Srimushnam, (03) Naimisam, (04) Pushkaram, (05) Salamandri, (06) Thothadri, (07) Narayanashrama, (08) Venkatadri.  According to sayings, Thothadri is the present Mangalagiri. Besides, Gunja Narasimha Swamy Temple, Tirumakudal Narasipura  nd Guru Narasimha Temple, Saligrama  are equally popular. 

.Mangalagiri Narasimha perumal temples, AP.

It is situated at the foot of the holy Hill in Mangalagiri and is one of the temples in the series of three temples located on and at the bottom of the hill, the other two being Panakala Narasimha Temple on the hill and Gandala Narasimha Temple at the top of the hill. 

The Lakshmi Narasimha Temple is popularly believed to have been founded by Yudhishthira, the eldest Pandava brother and the  temple's history is said to be recorded in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, one of the old Hindu religious scriptures. The Vijayanagara dynasty made contributions to the temple and the temple inscriptions mention about the visit of ruler  Sri Krishna devaraya during his reign. The temple's tall eleven story gali gopuram (153 feet tall and 49 feet  wide) was built between 1807 to 1809 by the local chieftain and zamindar - Vasireddy Venkatadri Nayudu, a devotee of Narasimha.

In the state of Andhra the Vaikunta ekadasi is not celebrated on a grand scale except at a few  Vishnu temples, exception being the Balaji temple of Tirumala. The are no pagal pathu or Raa pathu events or Nammazhwar Moksham as in Srirangam temple where the Ariyar sevi (first introduced by saint Nathamuni) has been conducted without any interruption for centuries.

The Vaikunta ekadasi and Sorgavasal Thirappu events are held every year at Sri Panakala Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple, not with much pomp or an array of elaborate rituals. The Mukkoti Ekadashi is a popular one in this region. and is held with devotion and religious fervor.  This is the Shukla Paksha Ekadashi that observed during the Dhanur/Margazhi month in the Hindu Calendar.Vaikunta Dwara darshanam - praying to the god through the Vaikunta dwaram  (entrance to heaven) is the highlight of this long festival. This festival is observed at Bhadrachalam Sita Ramachandra temple, Simhachalam Lakshmi Narasimha temple, Sri Kurmam Mahavishnu temple , Srikakulam Mahavishnu temple, Yadagirigutta Lakshmi Narasimha temple, etc.

This year the temple was already decorated for the annual Vaikunta Ekadasi festival - December 23/24.  A few days ago the temple official -E0 Ramakoti Reddy handed over golden shankh (conchin Tamil Sangu) golden dakshinavarti shankh to priests through which the prasadam - holy theertham is offered to the visiting devotees on December 23 and 24. The local administration has taken care of security  arrangement, potable water facilities, transport and sanitation to manage the crowd. 

The customary pre-dawn special pujas are performed  right from the morning during the festival.  Tiruvanjanothsavam will be held from  1 am to 3 am on December 23.  The pravesam of Vaikunta  Dwaram (paramapada vasal) - encircling the temple’s sanctum  is the most sacred event.  Devotees can have free darshan of the deity on the golden Garuda Vahanam at the Uttara Simha Dwaram.  Besides the free darshan, special queue lines for Rs 100, and Rs 200  have been set up.  The officials informed 25,000 Laddu prasadams are being prepared for the auspicious day to be distributed among the pilgrims. 

mangalagiri god emerging from Uttara Dwara on garuda vahana.

Mangalagiri templeg olden dakshinavarti shankh

Shanku Theertham  - holy water will be offered to the people  from 4 am to 9 pm on Saturday, and from 6 am to 8 pm on Sunday. An unusual custom here is devotees offer large quantity o jaggery ( a traditional non-centrifugal cane sugar;  a concentrated product of cane juice and often date or palm sap without separation of the molasses and crystals; color is various shades of brown)