HARIYALI TEEJ IN VRINDAVAN: CELEBRATION AND SIGNIFICANCE

The many festivals and celebrations that give India her unique identity find a new dimension in Vrindavan, the leela kshetra of Sri Krishna. Hariyali Teej is one such festival that holds a special significance in the holy Braj.  Deeply ingrained in Vrindavan’s spiritual and cultural ethos, it is a colourful event celebrated by the women during the monsoons.  The third day of the waxing moon in the month of Shravan is celebrated as Hariyali Teej or Green Tritiya. This year, the fortnight long festival of Teej will commence on August 13 in the holy Braj.

Special Hariyali Teej celebration in Braj

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On this auspicious day, Bankebihari Ji swings on the magnificent hindola made of sandalwood, which is covered with ornamental silver and gold. It is a special day of the year when the Lord gives continuous darshan to his bhakts. The festival is celebrated with much fervour and enthusiasm in the many temples of Vrindavan. Many other temples in the holy Braj are decorated in shades of green and with colourful swings. These temples include Radhavallabha, Rasabihari Nikunjvihari, Radharaman, Godavihar, Radha Damodar, Yugalkishor and Radha Shyamsundar. The temples in Vrindavan hold special programs until Jhulan Purnima when the idols are brought out of the sanctum sanctorum or ‘garbha griha’ to swing to the devotional tunes of bhajans that  glorify Shri Krishna’s hindol pastime.

The Sri Krishna idols are adorned with intricately designed garments and beautiful accessories like flute, garlands, crowns and anklets. Hariyali Teej celebrations allude to Shri Krishna’s favourite pastime which was swinging on beautiful swings in verdant forests of the holy Braj with His consort, Radha Rani.

The Other mythical significance of Hariyali Teej

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Hariyali Teej signifies the reunion of Shankar Mahadev and his wife Parvati. Teej marks Parvati’s sacrifice to win over the heart and mind of Shiva. She observed a strict vrata for 108 years to show her love, devotion and attachment for Lord Shiva, before Mahadev accepted her as his wife. A few of the Hindu scriptures suggest that Parvati took birth 107 times before she was born again as Parvati. And it was on her 108th birthday that she was blessed to be Lord Shiva’s wife due to her endurance, resolve, perseverance and penance over several births. Hariyali Teej is celebrated in admiration and devotion of Ma Parvati, who is also called Teej Mata. The Hindu women in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Bihar celebrate Teej for their husbands’ wellbeing and marital bliss.

How Women Celebrate Hariyali Teej

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On this special day, married women and young damsels wear colourful saris and bangles, apply beautiful Mehendi on their hands and beautify themselves with jewellery. Women also sing special songs and swing on specially-arranged jhulas. Swings play a significant role in Hariyali Teej. Beautifully adorned jhulas are hung from tree branches on which women swing, singing traditional Teej songs. Hindu women observe an austere fast during this festival to earn the blessings of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati for a blissful married life. The vrata lasts for a month until the Shukla Tritiya of Bhadra.

Hariyali Teej is considered to be a major festival in Braj. Ornately decorated green cloth with gold and silver finishing is now being prepared for the festival at Mathura’s Shri Krishna Janma Bhoomi temple. The Janma Bhoomi temple has also announced a programme schedule to celebrate Hariyali Teej. If you visit Vrindavan during this festival, you will be greeted by thousands of devotees on the streets walking towards the temples. However, just like during the other popular festivals of Braj, it may be difficult to get a comfortable accommodation during the festive days. However, if you have a home in Vrindavan, you can always be a part of Braj’s beautiful celebrations without ever having to worry about an accommodation. Krishna Bhumi, the temple township in Vrindavan, offers beautiful apartments and villas adjacent to the proposed Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir. Alternatively, become a Krishnabhumi Holydays member and spend 7 blissful days in Vrindavan every year.

Come, feel the magic in Vrindavan’s air and transform your life forever.

Radhe Radhe!

Krishna: The Eternal Friend

This Friendship Day, as friendship bands are tied, moments re-lived and celebrated, and memories recounted, it might also be a good time to question ourselves on the meaning of friendship and who our true friend is. Is it the one with whom we have all those 2 AM conversations, who is the safe repository of all our secrets, and someone who is always ready to help or is it someone who we trust to be always there for us?

We wonder if true friendship can ever have a definition that is timeless and universal. However, one can still try to understand the beauty of this special bond that enriched humankind since times immemorial. To begin with, let us turn to Sri Krishna and His friendship with two very special people of His life.

Krishna and Sudama

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The friendship between Sudama, a poor Brahmin, and Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaja is the essence around which many stories have been told and retold. Among the many tales what stands out is an account of the time when Sudama decided to visit Sri Krishna, then the king of Dvaraka.

It was Sudama’s wife who had urged her husband to visit his friend and ask for financial help. Sudama, an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu, found it very difficult to support his wife and children on alms alone. Hence, he decided to pay Sri Krishna a visit. However, in his heart of hearts, he was anxious about how his childhood friend-turned-king would treat him, a poor friend. Sudama carried with him a little amount of flat rice as a gift since as a child Krishna loved flat rice. Sri Krishna was elated on meeting His friend after so many years. Not only He but His entire kingdom gave Sudama a royal welcome and extended a warm hospitality. Sri Krishna washed Sudama’s feet with His own hands and then ordered to sprinkle the water throughout His kingdom. Sri Krishna believed that the water which was touched by such a devout follower of Sri Vishnu would purify entire Dvaraka.

Sudama was so touched by Krishna’s hospitality that he could not bring himself to ask for any help. He shyly gave the flat rice to Sri Krishna which He was overjoyed to receive. Sudama, on his part, bid his friend adieu without asking for anything. However, Sri Krishna is not an ordinary friend. He knew why Sudama had visited Him and had a surprise for Sudama that greeted him when he reached home. Sudama was astonished to find that in place of his small cottage, there stood a palatial building with all the comforts one could think of. Inside were his wife and children adorned in beautiful clothes and jewellery, waiting for him.

Krishna and Arjuna

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Sri Krishna and Arjuna share a very special relationship that finds mention throughout the Mahabharata. In fact, Sri Krishna was not just a friend to Arjuna but also his philosopher and guide. That is why, before the battle of Kurukshetra, when Arjun had to choose between Sri Krishna’s army and Sri Krishna as an advisor, he chose the latter. It was Sri Krishna who drove Arjuna’s chariot in the battlefield and enlightened him about his dharma when he questioned the efficacy of waging a war against his kin.

Arjuna is not just a loyal friend but an ardent devotee as well and that is why, of all the people, Krishna revealed Himself to His Arjuna, His Parth— that forms the content of the Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna is overwhelmed by the sight of Sri Krishna’s magnificent form and says, “I have in the past addressed You as ‘O Krishna,’ ‘O Yadava,’ ‘O my friend,’ without knowing Your glories. Please forgive whatever I may have done in madness or in love.” (Bhagavad Gita Chapter 11, Chapter 41)

Srila Prabhupada explains,

“Although Krishna is manifested before Arjuna in His universal form, Arjuna remembers his friendly relationship with Krishna and is, therefore, asking pardon and requesting Him to excuse him for the many informal gestures which arise out of friendship. He is admitting that formerly he did not know that Krishna could assume such a universal form, although Krishna explained it as his intimate friend. Arjuna did not know how many times he may have dishonored Him by addressing Him as “O my friend,” “O Krishna,” “O Yadava,” etc., without acknowledging His opulence. But Krishna is so kind and merciful that in spite of such opulence He played with Arjuna as a friend. Such is the transcendental loving reciprocation between the devotee and the Lord. The relationship between the living entity and Krishna is fixed eternally; it cannot be forgotten, as we can see from the behavior of Arjuna. Although Arjuna has seen the opulence in the universal form, he could not forget his friendly relationship with Krishna.”

Krishna was a friend to Sudama, a poor simple Brahmin and to Arjuna, the mighty warrior and in each instance, He gave His friends what they needed the most. To Sudama He bestowed His generosity in the form of a new house and material wealth, to Krishna He bestowed His wisdom and revealed His true identity. Sri Krishna is there for everyone—to anyone who is truthful in his belief and dedication to the Lord.

So, coming back to where we began, who is our true friend? Our best friend? Someone who will always be there for us, no matter where, no matter when, no matter what. Without an iota of doubt, it is Sri Krishna—the Supreme Godhead. And what better way to be close to Him than in the land that He loved so much—His very own Vrindavan?

Radhe Radhe!

Mudiya mela and Govardhan Parikrama: A way to reach out to Sri Krishna

The magic that pervades Sri Krishna’s Vrindavan, makes itself felt in every aspect of the holy Braj. Every day here is an opportunity to devote oneself to Sri Krishna and every festival here is an occasion to celebrate love for Brijwasi’s beloved Kanhaiya. Mudiya Mela is no exception. Known as the ‘Mini Kumbh’, Mudiya Mela attracts thousands of devotees every year who participate in this weeklong celebration and perform various rituals including the Govardhan Parikrama. This year, the mela is being celebrated from July 22 to 29.

Govardhan Parikrama: A parikrama to attain spiritual rejuvenation

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 The Dandavat Parikrama is one of the most challenging parikramas, calling for a lot of strength, patience, and endurance. This is because the rituals entail that the devotees perform 17,300 dandavats to complete one parikrama. They stretch out on the ground and stand up 17,300 times to worship the Giriraj Hill, the Govardhan Mountain.

Circumambulation of the Govardhan Hill means a Parikrama of approximately 14 miles. Before they start the parikrama, devotees take a holy dip in the beautiful Manasi Ganga Lake. Although the dandavat parikrama is one of the most physically challenging tasks, it is the love for Sri Krishna and the unswerving faith in Him that instills strength in the hearts of thousands of devotees who perform the parikrama year after year. Though there is no limit for performing the ritual, some may take weeks and sometimes even months to complete the parikrama. However, some may even be able to complete it in six hours, if they perform the circumambulation at a brisk pace. These days, the UP Department of Tourism has introduced a helicopter parikrama that lets devotees perform an aerial parikrama of Govardhan Parvat in just 10 minutes.

Govardhan Parikrama: A tradition through the ages

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The story of Sri Krishna lifting the Govardhan Parvat to protect the Brijwasis from the rage of Indra and the consequent flood, is one of the most well-known legends. The Srimad Bhagavatam states that Sri Krishna ordered all the people of Braj worship Govardhan Hill. Circumambulating the hill formed an integral part of the worship. This was the way in which the gopas and gopis pleased Sri Krishna.

Many great souls performed Govardhan parikrama when they visited Vrindavan. This includes Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who considered the rocks on the Govardhan as non-different from the body of Sri Krishna. Many acharyas and goswamis made Govardhan parikrama an intrinsic part of their devotion and service to Sri Krishna. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder acharya of ISKCON wanted his followers to fulfil his last desire which was to take him on a Govardhan parikrama.

Being a part of all the beautiful festivals and pujas of the Braj becomes so much easier when you have a home in Vrindavan. Become a Krishnabhumi Holydays member and experience the holy Braj like never before.

Radhe Radhe!

Why Vrindavan Celebrates Jagannath Rath Yatra?

Rath Yatra, the Festival of Chariots, is celebrated for many years in Puri with grandeur, enthusiasm, fanfare, elaboration and religious fervour. In Vrindavan, simplicity sets the tone for this auspicious day. If you are in Vrindavan during Rath Yatra, you can be a part of a wonderful experience when the beautiful chariots come out in the streets in a lavish procession, from the many temples here. The experience is delightful when these chariots circumambulate Gyan Gudri. The major attractions are the chariots from the three ancient temples of Gopinath, Govinda and Madan Mohan and also the temples at Jagannath Ghat, Vishram Ghat and Sadhu Mai Ka Ashram.

It’s not simply about Rath Yatra celebration in Vrindavan. There is more to the story than it meets the eyes. Many people are unaware of the meaning of Rath Yatra and its significance in Vrindavan. Do you know why all the chariots meet at Gyan Gudri? Let us tell you this beautiful story.

Deity of Jagannath Placed in the Empty Temples

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We spoke to many scholars and acharyas who narrated the story behind Rath Yatra in the holy Vraj. According to them, after the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb raided Vrindavan, the idols of Gopinath, Madan Mohan and Govinda were moved to India’s Pink City, Jaipur. As a result, the original temples had no deity. And so the acharyas of that period decided to place the idols of Jagannath in those empty temples.

Once the new temples of Gopinath, Madan Mohan and Govinda were built and the replicas placed, Lord Jagannath’s deity was also set up in the new temples. Since the idol of Jagannath was in the temple, it was necessary to take the Lord out on Rath Yatra. According to the archaryas, the ideal place for Rath Yatra was Gyan Gudri, where Sri Uddhava, one of Shri Krishna’s disciples, heard about the Divine love from the Vraja Gopis or damsels.

Shri Krishna and Balaram Move to Mathura

 

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Lord Krishna’s Rath Yatra is also held in Vrindavan along with Jagannath. This festival is related to the Gopis’ divine love for Devakinandan. Shri Krishna rode a chariot for the very first time in the holy land of Vrindavan. This chariot was sent by Krishna’s uncle King Kamsa to transfer Devakinandan and Balaram to Mathura.

Krishna Takes Jagannath’s Form

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The separation from Vrindavan made Krishna take Jagannath’s form. The Utkala Khanda of the Skanda Purana tells the story of Krishna’s manifestation as Jagannath. During a solar eclipse, Devakinandan, Balaram, Subhadra and Dwarka’s other residents went to take a holy dip in a pond at Kurukshetra. Lord Krishna’s parents Nanda and Yashoda, Radha and the other residents of Vrindavan were burning due to the separation from Hari, another name for the Lord. Knowing about Shri Krishna’s whereabouts, they all went to meet Devakinandan. Balaram’s mother Rohini Ma spoke to Krishna’s wives in Dwarka about His favourite pastimes in Vrindavan and the Gopi’s divine love for Him. Rohini’s narrative was kept exceedingly confidential. That’s why she posted Subhadra near the door so that no one could enter the premises.  Realising that Rohini Ma was talking about Him, Devakinandan and Balaram came close to the door, standing on Subhadra’s left and right sides. Lord Krishna stood listening along with Balaram.

Hearing of these stories, Devakinandan was overcome with strong feelings of separation from the holy land of Vrindavan. Shri Krishna was so fascinated hearing about His pastimes in Vrindavan that His heart started melting. Both Devakinandan and Balaram were so overjoyed that their inner feelings manifested outwardly.  Their eyes were dilated, heads pressed together into their bodies and their limbs drawn back. Witnessing these physical transformations in Krishna and Balaram, Subhadra too felt euphoric and took the same form. After hearing about Krishna’s pastime in Vrindavan, Devakinandan and Balaram with Subhadra in the middle unveiled their ecstatic form and it is this form that is worshipped as Lord Jagannath, Balaram, and Subhadra in Puri.

Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra in their Special Forms

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After Shri Krishna, Jagannath and Subhadra returned to their normal forms, and Devakinandan recovered completely, Krishna realised that it was Narada’s trick because he planted the idea in Rohini’s mind to narrate the story of Krishna’s pastime in Vrindavan. Though Narada Muni thought that his doing will make Krishna angry, but to Narada’s relief, Shri Krishna was pleased with him.  In fact, the Lord wanted to shower His blessings on Narada Muni. Narada prayed to Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra to appear in those forms at some place in the world to give Darshan to their devotees. The special form is also called ‘Patita Pavana’, the rescuer of the fallen and liberator of the universe. This is why Shri Krishna welcomed Narada’s wish to give Darshan to His devotees as ‘Jagannath’ in Puri.

The separation of Shri Krishna from Vrindavan made Him take Lord Jagannath’s form. Though we associate Rath Yatra with Puri, the holy festival has its roots deeply seated in Vrindavan, where Shri Krishna had His favourite pastimes.

Come, be a part of this holy land and experience the magic called Vrindavan through a Krishnabhumi Holydays membership.

Radhe Radhe!

 

 

Visit these top 5 Hindu pilgrimage sites with a Krishna Bhumi Holydays membership

Tirth-yatra or a journey to places of religious significance has always been an integral part of the Indian culture. While spiritual tourism has witnessed a resurgence in the recent past, India has always known and nurtured such a quest. If you feel inspired to take a journey that will lead to spiritual elevation, consider becoming a Krishnabhumi Holydays member which not only lets you spend 7 blissful days in Vrindavan but also gives you the opportunity to visit hundreds of pilgrimage sites through RCI exchange. You also get 35% discount on RCI Exchange fees when visiting pilgrimage locations in India.

Here is a list of five locations that hold a special significance among Hindus. Begin your journey by visiting these places that attract millions of devotees every year.

Ramanathaswamy temple, Rameswaram

ramanathaswamy-templeOn Rameswaram island in Tamil Nadu, stands the beautiful Ramanathaswamy temple, one of the twelve Jyotirlinga temples. Legend has it that the Shiva lingam of this temple was established and worshipped by Sri Ram. According to the ‘yudha kanda’ of Valmiki’s Ramayana, after the battle with Ravana, it was here that Sri Ram prayed to Shiva to absolve any sins that He might have committed during the war and especially the sin of Brahmahatya that He committed for killing Ravana. However, in order to worship Shiva, Sri Ram wanted a lingam and sent Hanuman to bring it from the Himalayas. However, since Hanuman was late, Ram’s wife Sita created a lingam with the sands of the shore. It is believed that it is this lingam that is still there in the inner sanctum of the temple.

Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri

Jagannath-TempleThis 11th-century temple is one of the char dhams, the four pilgrimage sites that many Hindus want to visit at least once during their lifetime. There are many stories regarding the origin of the temple. According to one story, Sri Jagannath manifested Himself in the form of Indranila Mani or the Blue Jewel. However, so dazzling was the ‘mani’ that it would grant instant ‘moksha’ to anyone who looked at it. Yama hid it. Later on, Lord Vishnu instructed King Indradyumna to establish the Jagannath Temple. Even today, many things happen surrounding the temple that science fails to explain. For example, the flag on the temple always flaps in the opposite direction to the wind, no bird or aeroplane flies above the temple, and the Sudarshan Chakra at the temple top always faces you, no matter from where you look at it.

Pushkar Lake, Ajmer

Pushkar-Lake-AjmerPushkar Lake finds several mentions in the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and several other Puranic texts. Pushkar comes from the words ‘pushpa’ meaning ‘flower’ and ‘kar’ meaning ‘hand’. It refers to the story of Lord Brahma that is behind the origin of this lake. Legend has it that Lord Brahma killed the demon Vajranabha with His lotus and while doing so, three petals fell on three spots. These three places transformed into three lakes— the Pushkar Lake, the Madya Pushkar Lake, and the Kanishta Pushkar Lake. Fifty two bathing ghats surround the lake. It is believed that the water of the Pushkar Sarovar has healing powers. The lake, which is regarded as ‘Adi Tirtha’ in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, attracts devotees from all corners of the world because it is believed that a dip in the lake on Karthik Poornima equals the merit of performing yajnas for several centuries.

Har ki Pauri, Haridwar

Har-ki-PauriThe Ganga aarti at Har ki Pauri is a sight that will resonate within you for years to come. Every evening, thousands of devotees gather at the ghat to witness the mesmerising aradhana. The Ganga aarti is performed in what is considered to be the most sacred part of Har ki Pauri— the Brahmakund. It is believed that after samudra manthan, when Garud was carrying the pitcher full of amrit, a few drops fell on the Brahmakund.

Kedarnath Temple, Kedarnath

Kedarnath-TempleKedarnath is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites among the Hindus. It is the highest among the 12 jyotirlingams. According to mythology, after the battle of Kurukshetra, the Pandavas wanted to ask for forgiveness from Shiva and wanted to meet Him. However, Shiva was reluctant and took refuge at Kedarnath. He assumed the formed of a bull and dived headlong into the ground, with His hump as the only visible portion. The head of the bull appeared at present-day Nepal’s Pashupatinath Temple. One of the best ways to reach Kedarnath is from Rishikesh. You can even put up at an RCI-affiliated resort at Rishikesh and then take a taxi or a bus to reach Kedarnath.

India is a land of mythologies and legends, of temples and shrines, of pilgrimage sights and devout devotees. If you wish to explore all the beautiful places that the country has, become a Krishnabhumi Holydays member. With a Holydays membership, you will always have a home in any part of India and the world.

Radhe Radhe!

4 ways in which a Holydays membership will be one of the most relaxing experiences

Do you know why every year millions of devotees visit Vrindavan? They do so to seek Sri Krishna and to soak in the glory that pervades this holy dham. However, in order to be able to imbibe the blessed atmosphere, you need to feel at home. You need to relax and let the atmosphere seep inside you and create its own magic.

That is exactly what a Krishna Bhumi Holydays membership will help you do.

Rejuvenate yourself at Krishna Bhumi’s ayurvedic spa

Rejuvenate yourself at Krishna Bhumi’s ayurvedic spa

Krishna Bhumi has been conceived as a magnificent township complete with all facilities and amenities of modern living. Among a host of wonderful features, it also includes a premium wellness center with ayurvedic spa. As a Holydays member, you can rejuvenate yourself at this spa through relaxing massage sessions. Studies show that massage therapies are a good way to rebalance our body chakras. It is believed that chakras are nothing but energy forces that flow through our soul or spirit. Sometimes, the chakras need to be realigned or rebalanced, which help in the overall wellbeing. In fact, it also helps you connect better with your environment and to be ‘in the moment’. A massage at the Krishna Bhumi ayurvedic spa will help you prepare yourself to imbibe the spirit of Vrindavan even better.

 

Take a dip in the swimming pool to feel refreshed

Take a dip in the swimming pool to feel refreshed

There will be a beautiful swimming pool right within the gates of Krishna Bhumi. As a Holydays member, when you stay in your fully-furnished luxury apartment, you can walk to the swimming pool and take a refreshing dip in its cool waters. Studies show that swimming is a wonderful exercise not only for the body but also for the mind and the soul. While swimming, all you have to do is concentrate on your strokes and movements, which is a great way to remove all static thoughts. In fact, many believe that swimming can be as beneficial for the mind as meditation. In a way, it is like doing yoga in water. And once your mind and body feel relaxed, they are all the more prepared to soak in the blissful experience called Vrindavan.

Breathe in fresh air in the open green space

Breathe in fresh air in the open green space

Krishna Bhumi will be surrounded by acres of green space. You can walk in the beautiful greenery all around, meditate in the open spaces, and feel connected to nature at once. It is also believed that green is one of the most restful colours and produces harmonious feelings which in turn diffuse anxiety. And once your mind is calm, you can concentrate even more on feeling one with Krishna.

 

Be a part of kirtans and bhajans in the upcoming Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir

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Krishna Bhumi is taking shape adjacent to the proposed Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir. There will be bhajans, kirtans, and spiritual discourses that you can be a part of. And what better way to experience Vrindavan than to immerse yourself in thoughts of Krishna?

 

A Holydays membership gives you ample opportunities to unwind your body so that your mind is ready to immerse itself in Bhakti bhava.

Radhe Radhe!