Vrindavan, 2017.07.27 (VT): The swing festival in Vrindavan is one of the most joyful times of the year. The celebration began yesterday with Hariyali Teej and will continue for about two weeks until Jhulan Purnima, which is also known as Rakhi Purnima or “Saluno” in Braj.
Hariyali Teej is the third day (teej or tritiya) after the amavasya of Shravan month. The word Hariyali means greenery, which is abundant all over Vrindavan due to the abundant monsoon rains. Throughout North India, Hariyali Teej signifies the monsoon’s renewal of Mother Earth, fertility, and the union of goddess Parvati with Lord Shiva after worshipping him for 108 births. Women celebrate by wearing green dresses, putting on mehndi, swinging on swings and worshipping the goddess, often in the form of Teej Mata. In Braj, the festival takes on a whole new meaning, celebrating the eternal romance of Shri Radha and Krishna as they play on a swing in the uproariously green forests of Vrindavan, nurtured by the monsoon rains.
On this day, in almost every temple, Shri Radha and Krishna wear a new green dress specially designed for the occasion, with beautifully sparkling anklets, necklaces, crowns, garlands of fragrant jasmine and other accessories. Devotees also wear green to match the dresses worn by their Beloveds and by Mother Nature herself.
In the early evening, Shri Radha and Krishna come out of the inner sanctum (garbha griha) to sit on a swing decorated with flowers and green leaves in their jagmohan (the outer part of the altar). A priest swings them gently while the devotees watch in utter bliss, singing monsoon songs by the acharyas of their own tradition. Shri Radha and Krishna are offered seasonal sweets to enjoy, such as ghewar and pheni.
Each year, devotees flock to Vrindavan from all over the country to celebrate Hariyali Teej. This year was no different. The crowd was so large that special security arrangements were made by the police, and all car traffic was completely stopped at the border of Vrindavan.
At the Shri Banke Bihari Temple, Banke Bihari Ji sat upon a swing made of sandalwood overlaid with real gold and silver. His green dress was studded with precious gems, and his gold crown was decorated with diamonds. To facilitate the wishes of Banke Bihari’s devotees who came from far and wide to see him, the temple remained open late into the night. Hariyali Teej is the only day when Banke Bihari gives uninterrupted darshan.
Shri Radharaman Ji, Radhavallabh Ji, Yugal Kishor Ji, Radha Damodar Ji, Radha Shyamsundar Ji and many other temples celebrated the festival in a similar format, but each with the special flavor of its own ancient tradition.
Temples in Mathura, Barsana, Nandagram, Govardhan, Radhakund and many small villages of Braj also celebrated with great fervor. In Mathura, Shri Keshav Dev’s temple was filled with greenery, while in Barsana, Shri Radharani and Shri Lalji came out of their altar to swing in a special mandap. In Raval, the birthplace of Shri Radha, the festival was enchanced by a special offering of chappan bhog. The whole of Vrindavan rejoiced in the beauty of the monsoon season with their beloved Radha and Krishna.