Offering Udayasthamana ((literally means from sunrise to sunset) Pooja is one the most popular and favorite offering to Lord Guruvayurappan. It implies worship from sunrise to sunset. However, the rituals commence from the previous evening itself, after Deeparadhana, with Ganapathy Pooja followed by “Ari Alakkal” (measuring rice) for Nivedyam in presence of the Thanthri, Temple Representative/Yajaman, and the Udayasthamana Pooja sponsor.
On the day of Udayasthamana Pooja, the Garbhagriha (Sreekovil) will open at 6 am for Nirmalya Darshanam, Usha Pooja followed by 18 poojas & homams, Udayasthamana Pooja is considered as a mini Utsavam – on a limited scale. The 18 poojas are for Lord Vishnu for his blessings to bring wealth and related benefits, and particularly for fulfilling one’s desires.
The 18th pooja is Navaka Pooja with Panchagavyam followed by Abhishekam with Navakam (nine kalashams). These rituals will take about 6 to 6½ hours – until the Ucha Pooja is completed.
The reason for performing 18 poojas is that 18 is considered a very auspicious number – though the exact significance of 18 is not known. It could be because there are 18 Puranas; Mahabharatha War having been fought in 18 days for the victory of dharma; Bhagavat Gita having 18 chapters; our body, the “Sookshma Sareeram” constituting 18 aspects (5 Jnanendriyas; 5 Karmendriyas; 5 Pranas; Manassu; Budhi; and Deham); Lord Krishna having fought Jarasandha 18 times and defeated him; Lord Krishna having 18 children, and many more such instances of 18 being an auspicious number.
The next session will start in the evening just after 6 pm with Sreebhootha Bali which is a ritual performed during festival days. During Sreebhootha Bali, the Utsava Vigraha of the Lord (a miniature of Guruvayurappan idol) is taken around within the four outer walls of the temple (the Chuttambalam), with the accompaniment of Chenda (temple percussion). Thereafter, with Deeparadhana at 7 pm and Dakshina, the rituals of Udayasthamana Pooja are completed.
Sreebhootha Bali: There are Bali Kallus representing the Lord’s Council (Parivarams). The Lord Himself (in the form of Utsava Vigraham) stands by as offerings are made to the Parivarams. The offerings include that to Big Balikallu (which represents Hari Senan, who is the chief of Lord’s entourage).