18.12.17 (VT) Vrindavan is the land of festivals and celebrations. Not only are the festivals related to Braj and North India celebrated here, when it comes to celebrating our beloved Lord or His incarnations, Vrindavan connects with all the regions of India.
The spirit of devotion in all its forms can only be seen in Vrindavan. Whether it is Bengal, Odisha, Manipur or South India, every region of India has its own temple in Vrindavan. These temples are a wonderful connection between Vrindavan’s culture and India’s regional traditions. Shri Rangnath Temple (Rang ji) is one temple that connects Vrindavan to South India.
Dhanurmas festival is mostly celebrated in South India, but the tradition is also maintained in Vrindavan’s Shri Rangji Temple.
The month long celebration of Dhanurmas began on Saturday in Vrindavan’s Rangji Temple. One of the special attractions of the festival is the ceremonial opening of the gates of Vaikuntha. Dhanurmas begins when the sun enters the Dhanur rashi. This coincides with the month of Margasira in the lunar calendar.
In the Bhagvadgita, Lord Krishna says, ‘Masanam Margasheershoha’ which means ‘among the months, I am Margasheers’. Dhanur month is very auspicious for worshipping Lord Vishnu. Vishnu temples all over South India conduct special pujas during Dhanurmas. Shri Rangji Mandir also follows this tradition.
Goda Devi (also known as Andal and Godamba), is considered to be the incarnation Sri Bhudevi, the divine consort of Lord Rangnath. She is one of twelve 8th Century Vaishnava saints, who composed and sung a collection of 30 devotional verses in Tamil, praising Lord Ranganatha, a form of Lord Krishna. These 30 verses (pasurams) are known as Thiruppavai.
Goda Devi visualized herself as one of the ‘gopis’ and, taking inspiration from the ‘Katyayani’ vrata performed by the Gopis to attain Shri Krishna, she performed the Dhanurmas vrata (religious austerity). She invited her friends to observe the vrata, in order to reach the Lord’s feet. The verses of Thiruppavai glorify many of the Lord’s avatars and are known throughout India as a masterpiece.
Goda Devi performed a vrata to sing Thiruppavai every day of Margasheera, and, since then, the days of the month have been known by the names of the verses of Thiruppavai. At the end of her vrata, Goda Devi had darshan of Lord Krishna, in the form of Sri Rangam, and attained her position at His lotus feet.
Since then, millions of devotees perform ‘Dhanurmas vrata’ by reciting the Thiruppavai at temples during this auspicious month. The merits of reciting the Thiruppavai, with understanding, on any day of Dhanurmas, are said to be equivalent to praying for one thousand years.
Taking morning dip in a lake or river before the ritual during this month is said to be equal to performing an Ashwamedh Yajna and, worshiping Vishnu on a single day during this auspicious period is equal to worshiping Him with devotion for 1000 years.
In an interview with Vrindavan Today, Acharya Naresh Narayan, the Chief Editor of Shri Anant Sandesh said, “Shri Rang ji Mandir in Vrindavan is the manifestation of Godamba ji’s love for Vrindavan. The temple was built to fulfill Shri Godambaji’s wishes. She was very fond of Vrindavan, and she visualized herself as one of the Vraja gopis. She considered the village of Sri Villiputtur as Vrindavan and when she bathed in the ‘pushkarini’ of Adi Keshava temple, as she visualized it as the Yamuna.”
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