Vrindavan, 2017.06.10 (VT): Summer in Vrindavan may be excruciatingly hot, but that doesn’t stop devotees from creating the most delightful festivals for Shri Radha and Krishna in the summer season. One such important summer festival, the Jal Yatra, was celebrated yesterday in temples throughout Vrindavan.
Jal Yatra comes every year on the full moon (purnima) of Jyeshtha. During this festival, fountains or showers are installed on the altar to sprinkle Shri Radha and Krishna with cooling water. Some temples have a kund in the courtyard where Thakurji goes for a boat ride, while in other temples, fountains sprinkle the devotees with water.
At the Shri Radharaman Temple, greenery adorned the altar in the form of a Kalpa Vriskh (wish-fulfilling tree), bearing all kinds of different fruits. The temple was completely packed and devotees pressed toward the front trying to get a closeup glimpse at their beloved Radharamanji’s divine Jal Yatra darshan. His dhoti became translucent from to the water, accentuating the elegant lines of his handsome Form. Devotees at the front of the crowd were completely soaked from the waterthat flowed down the front of the altar, where Radharamanji was enjoying the soft droplets of water from his own personal fountain.
The major temples of Vrindavan celebrated this festival, including Shri Radha-Shyamsundar, Shri Radha-Gokulananda and the rest of the sapta-devalay. The Shahji Mandir displayed its famous multicolored fountains for the pleasure of the Divine Couple.
The Jal Yatra coincides with the Snan Yatra of Lord Jagannath in Puri. The Skandh Puran mentions that King Indradyumna arranged this ceremony for the first time when Jagannath, Baldev and Subhadra were first installed in Puri, Orissa. In this sense, Snan Yatra is considered the birthday of Jagannath Dev. The Lord comes out of His temple on procession and is offered a ritual bath with 108 pots of water, in the presence of His devotees.
After the long bathing ceremony the Lord “falls ill” and retires to his room, where he undergoes Ayurvedic treament by the Raj Vaidya. Some say that Jagannath Dev is only pretending to be ill, in order to spend more time with His wife, the Goddess Lakshmi, to please her before leaving for Vrindavan in the form of Ratha Yatra. Jagannath Temples in Vrindavan, such as the one in Gyan Gudri, attempt to follow the same rituals as the ones followed in Puri to the best of their ability.