Vrindavan, 2017.07.11 (VT): Braj’s most popular festival, Mudiya Puno (Guru Purnima), was celebrated on Sunday. This year an estimated six and a half million pilgrims attended the festival.
Across India, Guru Purnima is a day for worshipping one’s spiritual teachers. But in Braj this day coincides with the disappearance day of Sanatan Goswami, the seniormost of the famous Six Goswamis who rediscovered the lost holy places of Braj about five hundred years ago. Sanatan Goswami is considered to be the incarnation of a gopi named Lavang Manjari and his temple, the Shri Radha-Madanmohan Temple, is the oldest temple in Vrindavan. The word “mudiya” itself refers to the practice of mundan or shaving ones head, which the devotees perform to mourn Sanatan Goswami’s passing.
Filled with eagerness for Girirajji’s darshan, devotees literally risked their lives to attend the festival. Indian Railways added extra trains in an attempt to meet the demand of pilgrims journeying to Braj, but it was not enough. Devotees held on to the outsides of over-packed trains and busses, and many even rode on the roof shouting Giriraj Maharaj ki Jai!
In Vrindavan, the occasion was celebrated at Shri Radha-Madanmohan Temple where Shri Sanatan Goswami’s samadhi (tomb) is located. A beautiful new deity of Sanatan Goswami was installed this year along with an abhishek or ritual bath, and Sanatan Goswami’s suchak kirtan (a kirtan that tells the story of Sanatan Goswami’s life through song). A twenty-four hour naam sankirtan, chappan-bhog (an offering of 56 types of food) and prasad distribution were also organized by the temple. Devotees also enjoyed a dance drama on Sanatan Goswami’s life.
In Govardhan, the main attraction was the Mudiya Shobhayatra, a procession in honor of Sanatan Goswami. Following a centuries-old tradition, the Gaudiya Vaishnavs shaved their heads in remembrance of Shri Sanatan and paraded through the streets around Mansi Ganga to the beating of drums and small cymbals, as they sang songs of longing for their Guru. The procession began near Sanatan Goswami’s bhajan-sthali at Chakleshwar and continued through Dasbisa, Saunkh Adda, Danghati, Deeg Adda, Bada Bazar, Hathi Darwaza and back. Many of the millions of devotees who were performing Govardhan Parikrama tried to get a glimpse of the beautiful procession, with the chitrapat (picture) of Sanatan Goswami leading the way.
The Uttar Pradesh Tourism Department also chose Mudiya Puno weekend to test their Helicopter Parikrama service. A number of devotees sampled the ten-minute helicopter ride, at a cost of Rs. 2,499.
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