Vrindavan, 2017.08.09 (VT): Vrindavan is the land of festivities. It is a living heritage filled with the culture of temples. Every day this temple town has one celebration or the other. Some temples celebrate in a big way, and some in simple way, but there are celebrations throughout the year.
It is not just one temple that draws most of the crowd, but pilgrims and the devotees who understand Shri Dham Vrindavan keep a calendar of festivals and enjoy exploring the moods of many temples, both big and small.
While most of the temples have festivals in common, Shri Rangnath Mandir has a list of festivals which is unique in Braj. The dates of celebrating Shri Krishna Janmashtami, Holi and other common festivals differs in this temple. There are also several festivals which are celebrated only in Rangji Mandir.
“Gajendra Moksha Lila” was celebrated in this temple on Monday. Every year this festival is celebrated in the evening, but due to the lunar eclipse it was celebrated in the morning this year. Local devotees thronged the 19th-century South Indian-style temple to witness the great Puranic event.
This pastime of Bhagwan Rangnath is an enactment of a story from Shrimad Bhagvatam, when Lord Vishnu saved an elephant, who was his devotee, from a crocodile. In the course of the festival, Thakur Rangmannar came out of the temple on a golden chariot and arrived at the Pushkarini (temple pond), where the enactment of the pastime was performed.
The scene was well set; a three-foot-tall wooden elephant and a four-foot-long wooden crocodile were placed in the temple tank with the crocodile clutching the right leg of the elephant. One could almost hear Gajendra’s loud scream for help, and tears rolled down the eyes of the devotees. Seated at the four-pillar mandapa along side the lotus tank, Rangnath listened to the sweet 30-minute recital of the Gajendra Moksham Puranam by the priests. Following the recital of each verse, a priest explained the significance of this event and how Lord Narayana relieved Gajendra, who pleaded for the Lord’s support, and saved him from the clutches of the crocodile.
As the priests recited the stanzas relating to Lord Vishnu hurling his discus to kill the crocodile, a fire cracker was shot from near Thakur Shri Rangnath, which flew and struck the crocodile at a lightning pace, thus relieving the elephant from its clutches.