Vrindavan, 2017.03.25 (VT): A grand ten-day long ‘Rath ka Mela’ or cart festival concluded on Saturday. Locally known as Rath ka Mela, it is actually the Brahmotsava celebration of Shri Rangji Mandir of Vrindavan.
The Brahmotsava is celebrated every year during March-April in strict accordance with the shashtras (scriptures). Bhagwan Rangnath ji Maharaj is taken out in a procession to Bade Bagicha, the sprawling garden situated near the Katyayani Mandir.
Every day there were processions in the morning and evening. The Lord appeared on different vahans (carriers) each day for ten days. Every vahan of the Lord has its own significance. The Temple management, Vrindavan Municipality and the District Administration made elaborate arrangements for the event. Tight security was put in place for the festival, which attracts thousands of devotees from all the towns and the villages around Vrindavan. Special illumination, pandals and arches erected around the temple gave a new look to the street between the temple and ‘Bade Bagicha’.
According to folklore, Brahma, the creator of universe, first conducted this festival by worshipping Lord Vishnu, to thank him for providing protection to mankind. Since this festival was started by Brahma, it is known as Brahmotsava in different parts of the country.
The festival began on 16th March, and on the first day the Lord mounted on Shri Purna Kothi in the morning and on a simha (Lion) in the evening. On the second day the Lord gave darshan sitting on Surya Prabha in the morning and on Hamsa in the evening. Shri Garuda carried the Lord in the morning whereas Shri Hanuman ji carried him in the evening of the third day.
Then it was the turn of Shri Sheshnag ji on the morning of the fourth day to take the Lord to His favorite garden. In the evening the Lord gave darshan climbing on a Kalpa Vriksha. The fifth day’s journey of the Lord began sitting on a palki or a palanquin and ended with riding ‘Simha Sardul’.
The Lord played Holi with his devotees on the afternoon of the sixth day as he came out sitting on Kaanch ka Viman. After playing Holi, the Lord again went to His favorite garden, Bade Bagicha, riding on an elephant.
The Grand Chariot or Rath came out on the seventh day. The Lord was seated on the Chariot early in the morning, and then the thousands of devotees pulled it to the Bade Bagicha. The senior priests walked before the chariot, whereas oher Brahmins walked behind the chariot chanting the Veda Mantras.
The Lord went to Bare Bagicha sitting on a horse – Ashwa Vahan – giving the darshan of Kalki Avatar. It was a busy day for the Lord on the ninth day, as he went out in the morning sitting on Palki Vahan, then He took the bath in the Pushkarini, meant to resemble the Yamuna, and again gave darshan sitting on the Chandra Prabha.
On the last day of the Brahmotsava the Lord gave darshan on Pushpa Viman in the late evening. Each day’s procession was related to one pastime of the Lord or another.
A grand display of fireworks made the celebration even more cheerful. Firworks were organized during the chhoti Atishbazi, on the third day and badi Atishbaazi on the eighth day of the festival.
The rituals for the Brahmotsava were conducted according to the Vedic tradition by South Indian priests under the supervision of the temple’s Mahant, His Holiness Shri Govardhan Rangacharya ji Maharaj.
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