Good news for devotees! ThakurJi is now using social media to give darshan to people round the globe. Devotees from different parts of Braja are uploading pictures of ThakurJi regularly and making it easier to get the Lord’s blessings from any corner of the world.
There are many groups on Facebook and WhatsApp that are active and are facilitating live and regular darshan of ThakurJi starting from mangal aarti or morning prayers to shayan aarti or night prayers. The morning aarti viewing is very popular among the Brajwasis for which the temples have also made special arrangements; however, the crowd is growing bigger every single day.
Local devotees are taking pictures and posting them on social media and thus people all over the world are getting glimpses of aartis and festivals that they cannot attend in person.
The State Government has approved an astounding sum of 177.81 crore rupees for the expansion and beautification of the Yamuna riverfront in Mathura and Vrindavan. The core committee meeting was held under the expert guidance of CM Akhilesh Yadav and the amount was sanctioned.
This decision was direly needed as devotees visit Vrindavan all year round and take a dip in the holy river before darshan. The ghats are in very poor condition and several of them even have large cracks. Some of the ill maintained but popular ghats include Kesi, Bhramar, Cheer, Vihar and Jugal Ghat.
Apart from this, the problem of sewage water flowing into the river and making it dirtier still remains. This is why the State government has also approved action plans that will stop these drains from flowing into the Yamuna and a 20 km parallel drainage system will be constructed which will carry the dirty water far away from the city.
This will keep the river water and the ghats clean. There are also further plans to connect the parallel drainage system to a sewer treatment plant so that the dirty water can be treated and can be used for irrigation purposes.
The Jal Yatra festival is held every year during the poornima of the Jyestha month to give Thakur Ji some relief from the scorching heat. During this festival, the temple is decorated with a pond in the courtyard, which is filled with water. A boat is then prepared and ThakurJi rides on it and gives darshan to all his devotees.
The Radha Raman Lal temple celebrated the Jal Yatra in a grand way this time. ThakurJi gave darshan while riding in a splendid boat. The devotees chanted slogans for the Lord. The ShahJi temple was also decked up and a pond was created. ThakurJi sat on a marble throne in the middle of it.
Lord Jagannath also got carried away by the festival and took a bath from 108 pots of water and fruit juices. Due to this he is now suffering from a cold. This fun tradition is a very old part of Vrindavan and Puri. The Lord is resting now and having many herbal medicines to recover and give darshan to his devotees once again.
Nirjala Ekadashi is one of the many important festivals that are celebrated in Vrindavan. On this occasion the inner sanctum of the temple, the walls and the pillars are heavily decorated with mogra flowers which happen to be the flower of the season. The temple no doubt looks beautiful and is filled with a heavenly scent which makes all the visitors peaceful and joyous at the same time.
Other flowers used in decoration are bela, juhi and champa. Thakur Bankey BihariJi gave darshan to the devotees on this day from the interior of the ‘pushp nikunj’. Thakur Radha Ballabh gave darshan to his devotees from inside a boat that was also filled with mangoes.
The Radha Raman temple was also crowded with eager visitors who wanted to catch a glimpse of the deity. Fountains had been set up in all the temples to save the deities from the effects of the scorching heat. All the devotees observed the difficult fast and donated food, clothing and hand fans to the poor people.
The Panchkosi Parikrama was also performed by joyous, singing and dancing devotees. This parikrama began early in the morning. The saptadevalaya temples were also a centre of attraction. The mahants of all the temples were very understanding and distributed water and cold drinks to the visiting devotees to provide some relief from the scorching heat.
A delegation of actors from the ‘Braj Vrindavan Act Now’ group of Vrindavan went to the Ujjain Kumbha Mela to put up a show that brought to light the many problems that the river Yamuna and Vrindavan are facing right now. The group was led by B.A Paramadwaiti Swami, the Acharya of Vrinda and the spiritual guide to the BVAN group.
The group was invited and hosted by Pujya Swami Chidananda SaraswatiJi while at the Kumbha Mela. There was also dialogue between the group and spiritually inclined people from all over the world who were visiting. One of the key speakers, Swami Paramadvaiti, spoke about the immediate need to save the rapidly disintegrating fertile lands and rivers of India.
A sankeertan was also performed on the streets of Ujjain to spread these messages. Later on, thousands of people along with the chief minister, Mr. Shivraj Singh Chauhan, took a pledge on the banks of river Kshipra that they will protect the rivers of India and find sustainable solutions to improve the environment.
Two national panels have been formed recently, one on Ramayana and one on Krishna. The two committees are going to meet very soon to deliberate upon various issues related to these two topics. The meeting will be spearheaded by Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma. The meeting will see to many things, like the fund allocation for the development of various places that are related to Ramayana and Krishna. It is said that the central government is going to allocate 200 crores for each of the locations.
The renovation of the routes to these places will also perhaps be discussed in the meeting. Along with that there is talk of building a Ramayana Museum at Ayodhya which will portray the epic journey of Lord Rama. The government is already looking at land options for the museum.
The Ramayana circuit will include Ayodhya, Janakpur in Nepal, which is said to be the birthplace of Sita, Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. The epicentre of the circuit would of course be Ayodhya. Similarly, Mathura would be the centre of the Krishna circuit and other places included would be Haryana, Rajasthan, Dwarka in Gujarat, West Bengal, Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
All these proposed projects will fall under the ‘Swadesh Darshan Scheme’.