Vrindavan, 2017.11.28 (VT): Each winter, a khichri festival is held in the ancient temples of Vrindavan. Every day for one month, khichri is offered to Shri Radha and Krishna, starting on Margashirsha Shukla Dwadashi.
Khichri is the ultimate winter comfort food. A simple dish made of lentils and rice, it is very healing, and it balances the Ayurvedic doshas. Different varieties of this Indian superfood are offered to the Divine Couple each day throughout the festival.
Heating spices like saffron, nutmeg, cloves and pepper are added to the recipe, along with different kinds of nuts and lots of pure ghee. On the side, Shri Radha and Krishna enjoy various types of achar (spicy Indian pickles), pakoras (fried fritters), dahi (yoghurt), jam, butter, and sweets. Sweets made with sesame seeds are a special favourite offering during the winter.
This song by Shri Gunamanjari Das Goswami of the Shri Radharaman Temple describes the scene:
खिचरी सहचरी प्रात राधिकारमणजी को ।
सुरभी को घृत डार थार आगे लाई
कचौरी अचार चार साग धरे तापर ।
पापर कचरी दधि मोदक मलाई ॥
मीठी मीठी बात करें दीठी सों दीठी भरें ।
अँगीठी सुगंध धरें सीत बीत जाई ।
चौकी पे बैठै आन रूचि सों लगे खान ।
प्रान वारती सु आरती करत आई ॥
khichari sahachari prat radhika-ramanaji ko
surabhi ko ghrita dar thar age lai
kachauri achar char sag dhare tapar
papar kachari dadhi modak malai
angithi sugandha dhare sit bit jai
chauki pe bethe an ruchi so lage khan
pran varati su arati karat ai
Shri Priyaji (Radharani) feeds Radharamanji delicious khichri soaked in cow ghee, with fried kachoris (wheat rounds stuffed with spiced lentils), spicy pickles (achar) and four kinds of vegetable dishes, all accompanied by papad, wild cucumber (kachari), yoghurt and sweets. Gazing longingly into Each Other’s lotus eyes, the Lovers share sweet conversation whilst the coal stove gives fragrant warmth. Radharamanji sits on a low seat (chauki) and happily enjoys the luscious khichri. When He finishes, Yashoda Maiya offers her very life to Him in the form of aarti. (English translation from the book Shri Radharaman Gita).
At the Radhavallabh temple, Radhavallabhji wears different disguises after Mangla Aarti throughout the festival. Despite the deepening cold, devotees flock to the temples throughout the khichdi festival to enjoy the special darshan of their Beloveds, hoping to get a taste of the special khichri prasad.
Dr. Chandra Prakash Sharma, an ardent devotee of Radhavallabh Lal said, “This khichri is cooked by the Goswamis with their own hands. It is very dear to Thakur Shri Radhavallabh Lal, as it warms one from within during the cold season. The khichri is distributed to the devotees after being offered to the Lord.”
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