Vraja is the abode of celebrations and some or the other festival is being celebrated there the year round. Currently being in the pitru paksha fortnight, Vraja is celebrating the sanjhi mahotsav. Once spread all over Vraja, these festivities are now limited to some ancient temples only. The sanjhi mahotsav is a significant part of Vraja culture and tradition.
Radha Rani and the gopinis used to make sanjhis on the path through which Lord Krishna would pass with his cows at dusk. The temple priests of Mathura and Vrindavan took up this practice of making sanjhis in the 17th century. In this art, stencils are used to make sketches of Lord Krishna’s pastimes on the floor and then it is filled in with powdered colors.
Sanjhi Mahotsav began to be celebrated as soon as the shraddha paksha began. Sanjhis are being made in the Madan Mohan Temple, Radha Ballabh temple, Yashodanandan temple, Radha Raman temple, Radhika priya ballabh temple and the Shah jahanpurwali mandir. In some temples, powdered colors and flowers are used to fill in the sketches while in other temples cow dung is used.
The intricately and beautifully made sanjhi designs are put on display in the evenings and are worshipped. Performances are held in the temples where singers sing special sanjhi bhajans and dancers dress up as gopinis. The word ‘sanjhi’ is derived from the word ‘sanjh’ meaning evening and is synonymous with other decorative terms like sajja, shringar and sajaavat.