Govardhan, 2017.01.29 (Vishakha Dasi for VT): Holi comes but once a year.
This may be true for the millions of Hindus who celebrate the festival of colors for just one day. But here in Vrindavan, we celebrate Holi for six weeks – even longer if you count the post-Holi festivities!
It begins on Vasant Panchami, the first day of Spring, when the first tiny dots of coloured powder are offered to Shri Radha and Krishna, then lightly sprinkled on Their devotees as prasad. From that moment on, the game builds and builds in a constant crescendo until by the end of Holi, there is a flood of colour everywhere.
In Vrindavan, this explosion of colours is synonymous with the Divine Couple’s eternal festival of love. So how could two months of Holi ever be enough? Holi must be eternal.
And it’s true. By the grace of Shri Radharani I recently found the place where Holi never ends: Gulal Kund in Govardhan.
The sacred lake called Gulal Kund is snuggled in a sea of yellow mustard flowers in the lap of Shri Giriraj (Govardhan Hill). It is easy to reach from the Govardhan Parikrama path. If you are coming from Poonchari, take a left near Rudra Kund, at the corner where the auto rickshaws linger. Bear right, then left, then it’s pretty much a straight shot.
As soon as you make the turn down the lane towards the village, the hustle and bustle of Jatipura is snuffed out by an extreme sense of peace that blankets the entire area just beyond the parikrama path.
This crisp winter moring on the cusp of Spring, I went by motorbike. It was a smooth ride over a pavement of white bricks. I have no idea who paved the road, but it seemed like the bricks had been laid with special care. The farther I drove, the more the pukka (concrete) buildings were replaced with kuccha houses made of Vrindavan’s earth and cowdung. At the risk of sounding strange I must admit, the aura and fragrance of the cowdung was extremely intoxicating.
After driving for about ten minutes, I saw an elegant pink sandstone gateway on the left, marking the entrance to Gulal Kund. A baby buffalo was playing near the entrance of the village, and I drove in slowly so as not to frighten her.
What I saw next was absolutely thrilling.
The entire courtyard was stained pink from Holi powder. A large, beautiful tree shaded the courtyard and several large Govardhan Shilas, and at the back was Gulal Kund. Unfortunately, the Kund is nearly dry, but the ambience is still incredible; very serene, with many green parrots chattering in the trees. It reminded me very much of Prem Sarovar.
There was a plaque comemorating the renovation of the Kund, which mentioned Teerth Vikas Trust, Shri Ramesh Baba of Barsana and the names of several devotees. A scene of Shri Radha and Krishna playing Holi was depicted in bas relief on sandstone, and on the right side of the courtyard was a small temple with a baithak (sitting-place) of Shri Vallabhacharya.
I entered the temple for darshan and asked the caretaker, Lila ji, about the lilas relating to this place.
She explained that once Shri Krishna was playing Holi in Barsana with Shri Radharani and other gopis. Although Shri Radha is His dearmost Beloved, during this Holi game, Krishna was giving His time to all the gopis equally. Shri Radharani and Her friends became upset, feeling that Krishna was not doing justice to this holi festival.
Unless Krishna played with Radha with full abandon, the true bliss of Holi could never be attained. By the time the game was over, Shri Radha fell into a sulk and began to cry. So to please Her, Shri Krishna brought only Radharani and Her close friends (sakhis) to this kund to play Holi to their hearts’ content. And so this place became known as Gulal Kund.
Shri Radha and Krishn are offered Holi colours every day at this place, and the devotees are adorned with Their prasad. And every day, Vaishnavs visit and play Holi here in remembrance of that beautiful lila.
The caretaker, Lila ji, invites all of you to come and play Holi with Shri Radha and Krishna at Gulal Kund.