Back to the Temple at VRINDAVAN, where Curd prepared from Cow's milk is marinated with Sandal Paste and Saffron is sprinkled by the Goswamis on the devotees, to bless them the ritual being known in colloquial traditional terminology as "Dadhi Kando". This is followed by ritual bath of Holy Flute and Deity with Milk, Curd, Ghee, Honey, Sugar and Holy Yamuna water (Panchamrita Abhisheka) at Mangala itself. During Shringar, the Sanctum-Sanctorum is decorated, inside and outside with pitchers containing holy Yamuna water having 'panch-pallavas' (Five leaves of different holy threes), 'Bandanwars' (holy leaves tied in thread in a row) hung, decorated in new yellow colored garbs with various ornaments seated under a canopy having plantain trunks on its four sides. Various types of delicacies having Moothaa Laddus, Besan Laddus, and Mathari (sweet), Sweet Seva, Sakalpara, Salt Mathari, Mohan-bhog etc. offered to Deity. Congratulatory devotional couplets are sung by Samaji (Temple Musicians). Devotees offer alms to the poor. They make special offerings to the Deity to commemorate the Grand occasion. It is their New Year's Day and the whole sect rejoices merry making and feasting, taking the blessings of the preceptor.Feastings, congratulatory songs and rejoicings continues till 2nd, day of Jyestha Krishna (Dark fortnight) on which day "Shashthi" (Sixth day) of Shri Hit Harivansh Mahaprabhu is celebrated with great pomp, Van-Vihar (visit to Forest Groves) and Circumambulation of Shridham Vrindavan at night with Temple Musicians (Samaj) singing devotional songs in attendance, is performed with great Serenity.
Another main Grand Festival of RadhaVallabh Temple is Nine-Day long Shri Radha Ashtami Festival, commemorating the birthday of Shri-Shri Radhika Ji. The festival commences right from the fifth day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapad (BhadrapadShukla Panchmi) from which date congratulator devotional songs are sung by the Temple musicians and well decorated procession of the Swaroops (The Holy Couples Shri-Sri Krishna and Shri-Shri Radha) in attendance with Sakhis (Holy Female companions) is being taken out from the temple in the evenings for four days. The Holy Couple is seated in a wall-decorated chariot along with Holy Female companions.
The chariot is decorated with flowers and colorful lights. Saints of the sect carrying Holy Insignias indicating their Akharas (sub-sects), several band-parties playing devotional tunes, hundreds of devotees from all over the world dancing and singing devotional songs attuned with the beat of traditional symbol and drums, several Jhankis (picturesque presentation of various themes connected with the occasion), lights comprise the procession, known as "Chav" in the traditional parlance, which moves slowly meandering the main streets and lanes of Vrindavan, reaching Raas Mandal after mid-night, Devotees perform "Aarthi" at different places, after every few steps, of the Holy Couple (Deity) is graciously garbed in red royal robes in the temple. On this night, Darshan are again opened after "Shayan Aarti", and "Dhandhi-Dhandhin", (Traditional male and female Courtesan-Dancer of the Holy Couple) dance whole night singing congratulatory devotional songs in the praise of Shri-Shri Radha, Shri Vrishubhanuji and Shri Keerteeji (parents of Shri Radhikaji)
From 12 p.m. onwards, starts "Dadhi Kando" of Brijwasis (Devotees and followers of the sect dwelling in Brija Vrindavan). Later, Goswami Swaroops perform "Dadhi Kando", which must not be missed since it is a ritual to be remembered forever. Several seen Liters of Milk, Curd, Turmeric powder, Sandal Paste and saffron is mixed in a very large tank in the Temple and Goswamis sprinkle the admixture on the devotees and fellow priests, dancing in circles, merrily rejoicings, to the tunes of "Radha Pyari Ne Janam Liyo Hai" and "Chalo Vrishbhanu Gope Ke Dwar" (Beloved Shri Radha has taken birth and Let us to the doors of Shri Vrishbhanu Gope, father of Shri Radhikaji). Later, the Goswamis accompanied by Temple Devotional Singers (Samaj), proceed to Shri Hit Mandir (Old Temple), Vanchandraji Ke Doll, Shri-Shri Sewakunj and Shri Hit Raas Mandal, performing Dadhi Kando to the sky ricocheting melodious tunes of "Radha Pyari Ne Janam Liyo Hai" and congratulatory verses.
This is followed by ritualistic bathing in Yamuna by Goswamis after which they return to their abodes. In the evening, again "Chav", the Holy procession is being taken out on a much enlarged scale which is followed this day by the Chav from Shri Banke Bihari Temple also, remenisciending the Holy Processions of "Shri Harivansh-Shri Haridas Ji". The celebrations come to an and on the 13th, day of brighter fortnight commemorating Chhathi (Sixth day after birth of Shri Radhikaji), on which date again sumptuous Shringar Bhog and Raj Bhog offering are being made to the Deity. During Raj Bhog Sakhri include specialties such as Kheer, Pakori, Peet-Bhat (Yellow Rice), Mohan Bhog etc. besides of firings as that on her birthday. On the birthday, i.e. Shri-Shri Radha Ashtami, the Goswamis, as well as devotees, put Tilak on the forehead of Dhandhi and Dhandhin and reward them with shawls and money, as if it has been done Shri Vrishubhanuji on that day.
On the 11th, day of Dark fortnight of Phalgun Samaj Jagran (whole night awakening and singing of devotional verses connected with Holy) at Mansarovar, across Holy Yamuna, a place closely connected with Shri Hit Harivansh Mahaprabhu and held in high esteem by the devotees of the sect, is organized, On 2nd day of Bright fortnight of Phalgun, known as "Phulera Dooj", the Deity is adorned with light white garba and seated under colorful, floral creeper decorated "Chaudandi" (Mandap) tying Gulal in a piece of cloth to His waist, which is removed gracefully at night at Shayan Bhog. At Shringar Bhog, Pooas and other sweet delicacies are offered daily whereas at Shri-Shri Sewakunj "Samaj" is organized where "Chhadma leela", (Narration of various acts of the Lords performed by Him in disguise) are sung. Gulal (colored powder) is thrown lavishly on the devotees by the Goswamis supposing the Lord is playing Holy with devotees, from the 11th, day of Bright Fortnight of Phalgun the Lord comes out from the sanctum sanctorum and is being seated at Jagmohan during evenings. On this day, the Lord along with His Spouse Shri-Shri Radhikaji and Female Companions plays Holy with His devotees riding a caparisoned elephant, preceded by several Band parties, Devotees singing Holy-Rasiya-Dhamar attuned to the playing of Duff (A traditional typical circular drum which is played only on one side and which is covered with goat-skin on a round wooden frame) and Dholaks.
At the head of procession, which starts after Rajbhog in the
afternoon, Saints in two rows carry large Insignias (Flag having
religious significance). Several quintals of Gulal (colored
powder) are sprinkled by the Lord, His Spouse and accompanying
Female companions (Sakhis) on the devotees as the Lord's
elephant meander through the streets of Vrindavan. Devotees and
Shopkeepers of Vrindavan, perform Aarti of the Lord mounted on
elephant and offer Bhog to Him.
On the 1st, day of dark fortnight of Chaitra, the Deity enjoys swinging being seated in a swing, Knawnas "Dal", prepared from the leaves of 'Morchali'. On the 4th, day of this fortnight of the month, devotees and Goswamis keep awake at Baad gram with Samaj going on at the Temple there. Next day there, i.e. on "Rang Panchmi" Holy is celebrated known in local parlance "Hurranga", in which men folk try to throw color on women folk of the village, later retaliate with large bamboo poles (lathes) trying to thrash the former in a friendly way jubilantly, singing and dancing. At the Temple here at the birthplace of Shri-Shri Hit Harivansh Mahaprabhu, Samaj is being conducted followed by Dolotsava, This brings to closure of Holy festivities.
Earlier during the chilly winter months of Pausha and Magh, one-month long Annual Festivity of Khichari Utsav is celebrated, during which specially prepared Khichari, unparallel in the world, is offered to the Deity before Mangla. The Khichari and its accompaniments have been described under Bhog earlier. The Deity is garbed daily with a new special robe known as 'Phargul' in Mangla. After Mangla Aarti, Shriji blesses with disguised appearances everyday to the devotees enthralling them.
During the month of Shravan, Hindora or Jhoola (Swing festival) starts from the 3rd. day of the bright fortnight, which continues till Poornima. The first day commencing the festivities is known as "Hariyali Tee]", and could be seen daily after Sandhya Utthapan to the end of Sandhya Aarti, everyday with new decoration of natural leaves and curtains as well as garbs of the Deity. Sweets and delicacies such as Feni, Ghevar, Gujhias, Balooshahee, Imarti, Ladoos and seasonal fruits are offered to the Deity on this occasion. Hundreds of devotees come to witness the festivities and on occasions, crowds become uncontrolled, though disciplined.
PHOOL BUNGLOWS (FOORAL ARCADES):
The Priests and Preceptors of Shri RadhaVallabh Temple have developed through centuries a unique traditional Temple Classical Floral Art that could be witnessed during four months of summer. During this period, this art reaches its climax and could be seen in various types of Floral Architecture, designed and executed by the Temple Priests, to please the Deity and keep the precincts cool and pleasant keeping Him at safe from the dry hot summer spells, these are known as Phool Bungalows.
This floral art commences with the 'Gulab Dol' (Swing of the
Lord prepared from Roses grown which flower during the month of
Chaitra) on Chaitra Shukla Ekadashi (11th, day of bright
fortnight in the month of Chaitra) till Bhadrapad Shukla Ashtam
(8th, day of bright fortnight in the month of Bhadrapad).
Renowned Art Historian A.K. Koomaraswamy writes-“with a new
beauty of definition, it establishes the classical phase of rich
Indian Decorative Floral Art, at once serene and energetic,
spiritual and voluptuous, expressive of mood with reference to
the theory of 'Rasa' and embodiment of charm.
Another most essential part of these floral arcades is the floral garbs and floral ornaments of the Deity, which maestros prepare intricately. This maltose is expert in preparing Floral Boats, Floral Swings, and Floral Beds etc. of the Lord, which are executed during this period.
These Floral arcades arc designed just like a multi-strayed
beautiful building, having doors, cornices, windows, and
blennies, Verandas, Lattices etc. Various types of fragrant
flowers in quintals are used for preparing these arcades which
are basically designed primarily by slicing thin bamboo sticks
and given shapes according to design, decorating them later with
fragrant flowers sewn together by experts by a needle on
threads. These experts prepare pitchers (Mangal Ghat), Peacock,
Parrot, Cuckoo etc. from flowers also, to decorate these
The temple priests, or their disciples, are expert in the floral art, which is executed for the first ten days with the flowers and for the last five days (from the eleventh day to fifteenth day of dark fortnight) in colored powders.
These floral decorations of SANJHI comprise various acts of Shri-Shri Radha and Shri Krishna (different Leelas). The intrinsic depiction of these Holy Acts of the Divine Couple, in various fragrant flowers and buds, mesmerize devotees and art-connoisseurs. Floral motifs and their great varieties found in the SANJHI and floral arcades of Shri RadhaVallabh Temple exemplify those current and mentioned in ancient religious scripts and literature where reference is found of "Lata-Griha" (Creeper Arcade). "Parnashala" (leaf Arcade", 'PushpGriha' (Floral Arcade). 'PushpKunj' (Floral grove). 'Usheer Grihs' (Khus Arcade) 'Kadali Griha' (Plantain Arcade), 'Him Griha' (Ice Arcade), Pushpa Mandan, etc. and could be corroborated in religious and Sanskrit texts like Garga Semite, Kadambari, Menghadoot, Abhigyan Shakuntalam, Malavikagnimitra and Raghuvansh of Kelidas etc. The Archaeologists tell that an inscription of 1st century B.C. found at village Mora near Mathura mentions about a "Shaildeva Griha", executed for the pleasure and service of Lord Vasudeva. The main Deity of the Temple, Shri RadhaVallabhLalJi, on arrival at Vrindaban, was housed in a "Late-Griha" (Creeper House) at "Unchee Thaur" (Madan Ter) on the bank of Holy Yamuna by Shri Hit Harivansh Mahaprabhuji. The detailed description about this Holy-Historical incidence. SANJHI etc. could be had by seeking audience and pleasure of Tekamah Adhockery, and Preceptor of the Sect Goswami Shri Radhashlalji Maharaj or his eldest son (Yuvaraj who would be the next) Goswami Shri Mohit Maral Ji Maharaj.
Annual festivities also include birth anniversaries of Lord Ram
on Ram Navami, Krishna Janmashtmi, Goswami Shri Vanchandraprabhu
(Eldest son of Shri Hit Harivansh Mahaprabhu, Goswami Mohan
Chandraji Prabhu (son of Hit Harivansh Mahaprabhu), Goswami
Krishna Chandra Prabhu (another son of Hit Harivansh Mahaprabhu),
Goswami Sunderwarji (Grand son of Hit Harivansh Mahaprabhu),
Goswami Damodarvarji, Goswami Rooplalji and other
Adhikari-Goswamis as well as of Shri Sewakji performed with
great serenity and divinity.
On Share Poornima Day, the Deity adorns crown (Mukut), under white canopy and white background (Pichwai), in snow white grab and white decoration, whereas the Temple Musicians sing "Mohan Madan Tribhangi" after Evening Aarti (Sandhya). As the verse nears 'Madhukar Keli' stanza the curtain comes, the Holy Flute comes out from the Divine lips of the Deity inside the sanctum sanctorum and being placed dedicatedly with devotion on its Holy Seat (Gaddi). Curtain is now opened to bless the devotees with the audience of the Deity.
Later 'Shayan Bhog' (Night Supper) is offered to the Deity, which must have this time sweetened milk admixed with cardamom in several deco-liters, creamy thick layers (Malei) of the milk, along with several kilos of 'Chandrikas' (A sweet of snow-white color having small snowy crystals of sugar). The ritual is repeated again on the 2nd, day of dark fortnight of Kartik as Second Sharad, but this time the Deity though garbed in snow-white dress, wears Rosy-red Turban (Paag) instead of Crown (Mukut). The tonic offerings are similar as on Sharad Poornima. The Temple Musicians sing before the Lord verse composed by Shri Hit Harivansh Mahaprabhu-“Lal ki Roop Madhuri Hoy".
Deepawali, the Festivities of Lights and other festivals connected with it are celebrated with gaiety and pomp and are worth witnessing, from the 13th day of dark fortnight or Kartik (Khan Teras), the Deity sits in Sterling-Silver Hatari. On this day the Deity adorns Green Zari Garb (Baga) whereas on the next day, i.e. Roop Chaturdasi or Chhoti Deewali (14th day of dark fortnight), He adorns Red Zari Baga and sits in Hatari made of Sterling Silver. On the Deepawali Day, the Lord adorns white Zari dress, playing 'Chaupar' both times (Morning and Evening), enjoying His seat in Silver Hatari. The Temple is decorated with colorful electric bulbs and hundreds of earthen lamps. Next day, i.e. Kartik Shukla 1, Shri Goverdhan Pooja, Annakoot and Marriage Ceremony (Vyahula) of the Deity is celebrated with pomp and show and is witnessed by thousands of devotees from all over country and abroad.
The preparations for Annakoot are being made much in advance ten days earlier right from the Panchmi (5th day of dark fortnight of Kartik) on larger scale. Delicacies of all types, all varieties of pulses, several deco-liters of clarified butter, sugar, Maida (very fine wheat flour), Besan (flour of destined black gram), various varieties of sweets prepared from milk and its products, savories and salts dishes, dry fruits of various types, frees seasonal fruits, curd and various preparations of it, rice of several varieties, vegetables of many kinds, sauces, pickles, jams, pooris, kacharis, Kachauris, many varieties of sweets containing seasom seeds (Gazak, Revadi) Pooas etc. are offered to the Deity, These culinary artistic delicacies are displayed in the Jagmohan in the afternoon on wooden high planks and this exhibition is a wonder in itself to see. Blessed are those, who, by the Grace of Shri RadhaVallabhLalJi, could get the gracious opportunity to have a bite of all that is offered, besides apictunque glimpee of the Lord's Krishna.
In the Evening, after Sandhya Aarti, Marriage Ceremony of Deity is celebrated on a grand scale. The Deity adorns Golden Zari garbs this day; both during Annakoot and Marriage ceremony (This is being dealt separately).
On the eighth day of the fortnight Gopa-Ashtami is celebrated and Lord adorns today Lakut (Stick) for directing the cows it is presumed that Lord goes with His cows, robed as a Grazier (Gopal) in Natwar Bhesh with Peacock feathers in His headgear, as He had done centuries back during His incarnation at Gokul. Various delicacies are today offered to the Deity at the time of Shringar. Raj Bhog during His incarnation at Gokul. Various delicacies are today offered to the Deity at the time of Shringar. Raj Bhog and Utthapan. If there is Solar Ellipse on Deepawali (Amavasya), them Annakoot might not be celebrated next day and it would be celebrated on Gopashtami day. With this Annual celebrities of Deepawali and its allied festivals conclude.
On the 13th day of bright fortnight of Kartik, the devotees from all over the country and priests of the Temple celebrate with great pomp and show Patotsava (Crowning) of Shri-Shri 1008 Shri RadhaVallabh Lal Ji. It was on this day that the Deity came to VRINDAVAN, and seated with all rituals at a high cliff (Oonchi Thaur) at Madan Ter on the banks of Holy Yamuna by Shri Hit Harivansh Mahaprabhu. The day is also known as "VIRNDABAN PRAKATYA UTSAVA" (DISCOVERY OF VRINDABAN CELEBERATlONS). Till then, Holy town of Vrindavan remained disappeared amongst dense forests and cliffs, and it was Shri Hit Harivansh Mahaprabhu who discovered it. On this day Annakoot is celebrated at Shri Sewakunj. At the temple itself, festivities include Abhishek with Panchamrita (Five essential ingredients-Cows milk, Curd, Honey, clarified Butter, Sugar and finally with Holy Yamuna water), and decoration as it is being done on Shri HITOTSAVA DAY, with plantain trunks, Bandanwar, Mandap and the Deity seated in Hattari, Mohanthar, Ladoos, Boondi, Mathari etc. in large Mauritius are offered specially during Bhog and distributed amongst devotees and temple musicians.
Though according to Narada Pancharatra (According to Asiatic Society of Bengal, Narada Pancharatra is one of the two oldest scriptures of Vaishanavite literature, the other being Shrimad Bhagawat). "Nityotsava, Nitya Saukhyo, Nitya Shri, Nitya Mangalsh" (Daily celebrations, Daily pleasure, Daily prosperity, Daily blessed). Yet at Shri RadhaVallabh Temple, people celebrate and rejoice service the Lord not only daily, grand occasions, annual festivals, but also on fulfillment of their cherished desire, e.g. marriage of son or daughter, birth of a child, construct in of new house, promotion, acquisition of new vehicle, conferment of some honor, starting new business of profit therein, victory in some court case etc. This is known as "MANORATHA" and could be celebrated by offerings "Mangal", a (singing of praise of Shri-Shri Hit Harivansh Mahaprabhu and Shri-Shri RadhaVallabhLalJi), "Vyahula", "Chhappan Bhog" etc. the details could be had from the Teekayat Adhikari of the Temple whose permission is a must for any such Special Service as he has to make necessary detailed arrangements for the celebrations, adjust the normal routine time-schedule of the Temple Service, and direct Temple servers such as, Priests preparing Bhog, Temple musicians (Samajis), decorators etc.
This "Manorathas" e.g. as "Vyahula" (Marriage Ceremony of the Lord) is a time-consuming event and draws hundreds of devotees from different places. The temple is well decorated, inside and outside, special feast of the Lord, His garbs, Ornaments, curtains etc. are being prepared, colorful electric and bright bulbs illuminate temple premises, Bands are in attendance, fireworks displayed, plantain trunks, various kinds of leaves and flowers, new pitchers with mango leaves and green coconut placed by the side of an special throne under a well decorated canopy in Jag Mohan (raised platform) on which the Deity comes out at the time of the ceremony to bless the devotees who celebrate the occasion for the pleasure and recreation of the Lord. Temple Musicians narrate special verses composed only to celebrate the festivity, whereas the Goswamis under the direction and supervision of Teekayat Adhikari perform various services and rituals connected with the occasion.
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