uttur Jathra is a village fair, amplified at least a hundred times over and completely funded and organized by Suttur Swamiji. In short, it is five-day mega party thrown by Suttur Swamiji in honor of their founder Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeshwara Shivayogi Mahaswamiji, who lived close to 1000 years ago. (The present Swamiji is the 23rd generation pontiff.) Large structures are erected to house tens of thousands of people, large temporary kitchens to feed 1.5-2 lakh people thrice a day run round the clock – there is festivity all about running all night until 5:00 in the morning. Several hundred thousand people visit the event and many stay there at the venue for the entire duration.
Sadhguru was at Suttur recently, as the Chief Guest at a Mass Marriage ceremony where 162 couples got married – all expenses, dresses and gifts sponsored by the Suttur Mutt, and an additional assistance of Rs. 10,000 per couple gifted by the government of Karnataka. Shri Sadanada Gowda, Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri Jagadish Shettar, former speaker of the Vidhana Sabha, and the present rural development minister, Mrs. Sumitra Gandhi Kulkarni, former MP, and granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, and Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami, Editor-in-Chief, Hinduism Today, were some of the other guests.
Having arrived early to the event, Sadhguru was taken around the place – he visited the gaddige (samadhis), their temple and then their massive kitchen, which was impressively simple and clean. A five course morning meal was being cooked and served, including the local delicacy kadlehuli, a spicy curry made of chickpeas and green bananas, that particularly tempted Sadhguru. But he had already had his breakfast, so he had to let it pass… He then visited the Agri Exhibition, where close to 70 crops were grown in careful calculation and synchronization to bear full yield during the Jathra.
Speaking at the event, Shri Jagadish Shettar pointed out that the couples getting married on that day were extremely fortunate because they were getting the blessing of not one, but four spiritual Gurus, a Chief Minister and several dignitaries. Mrs. Sumitra Gandhi said she did not know why she was invited as a guest for the event, but she hoped she and her husband qualified to be there because it was their 50th year of marriage! The Chief Minister who had come along with his wife exchanged garlands with her as a symbolic gesture.
Later, Sadhguru along with Suttur Swamiji and Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami, walked around the mandap where all the 162 newly wed couples were waiting, and blessed each couple.
Suttur Mutt also houses a unique, free, residential school which is more of an orphanage with over 5,000 children from all over the state, who are either very poor or orphans. The school building is massive and their campus sprawling. Sadhguru was very taken up by the effort during a previous visit, because the way the children were brought up, they were very cheerful and joyful. During Jathra time, not only is their school off, but there are no rules or routines either. They eat from the free kitchen, and visit any event or exhibition they like. Most of the time, people from their village are also there during the week, so things couldn’t be better for them.
At eleven thirty in the night, I am walking on the street in front of the temple and I hear a girl’s voice from behind me calling her friends, “Hey, you monkeys. Where are you going without me?” I don’t have to turn back to know where she is from…
– Swami Nisarga