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Welcome to Shri Banke Bihari Temple, Vrindavan

Kamda Ekadashi

The meaning of the word bihari is supreme enjoyer. True to His name, Bihariji will always find a reason and ways to enjoy all the times, be it morning or evening, be it winter ,summer or any other season. Remember how he enjoyed everything in Krishnavatar? If he was sent out with calves to the grasslands, he played with fellow cowherds, climbed on the trees, explored the interiors of forest and caves. When, grown up a little and accompanied cows, he mastered the art of playing flute and made everybody dance to its tune. If he was denied kalewa (breakfast) at home, he will simply enter any house in neighborhood along with his friends to steal food. If caught red handed during the process, he knows how to implant the boy of the house in his place and slip away smartly. Innumerable are his ways and tricks to enjoy even the most unimaginable situations.

 

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Summer evenings are quite pleasant in north India. After braving the dust laden hot westerly (loo, as it is called locally) throughout the day when you come out in the evening and walk towards woods and plantation on banks of Yamuna, a cool breeze and sweet fragrance of bela, motia, ratrani, juhi and other summer flowers welcome you. It is in these times that Bihariji enjoys the PhoolBangla- house of flowers! 

 

By tradition, Bihariji does not move out of the temple, at most He comes to Jagmohan where ambience suited to the occasion is created. Starting from the day of Chaitra Shukla Ekadashi till Haryali Amavasya (in the month of Shravan) Phool Bangla is erected in the jagmohan in the evenings almost on all days and Thakurji enjoys the ambience of blooming summer flowers. Not only this, He is adorned with the ornaments made of leaves, buds and flowers. Tender flat leaves of vatvriksha (banyan) are cut into the shape of ornaments like bracelet, necklace, armlet, garland, earrings and crowns. Ornaments are created out of these cut leaves by decorating with different type of buds- bela, tagar, motia, mogra and kaner. These beautiful ornaments, painstakingly prepared each day by dedicated devotees are eco friendly, very attractive, have their own natural fragrance and cool.

 

The dresses that Lord wears these summer evenings are also very special. These dresses are made of black fine cotton, malmal, and are intricately decorated with the buds of mogra (white) and kaner (red and yellow). Thakurji occupies His seat in PhoolBangla in jagmohan, adorned with dress and ornaments made of flowers, rather buds in the evenings these days.

 

Phool Bangla – house of flowers can be deemed as a house decorated extensively with flowers or a house made up of flowers. The tradition probably originated in this temple itself as is evident by mastery of Goswamis over the art in yesteryears and at present. The Banglow is created by number of wooden frames of different shapes and sizes – like building blocks. These wooden frames have small nails on all sides to facilitate weaving by strings of flowers. Within these weavings, by swift movements of their fingers masters displace flowers left and right to develop very attractive jali patterns as you normally see in stone carvings in the havelis of Rajasthan. Standing in the temple courtyard when you look at the balcony in the first floor, you can see small panels of these stone carvings – jalis. In fact our masters of the art recreate all these patterns in the flower panels for the Phool Bangla. These decorated frames are then arranged in the shape of a multistoried house or palace complete with main room, canopy, side rooms, staircases and pinnacle. At times a Phool Bangla will have panels decorated by vegetables, fruits and banana tree openings also to have more variety. The beauty of these decorations can not be described in words nor can it be imagined without seeing it at least once.

 

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A legend:

 

Saint Surdas, a principal disciple of Shri Ballabhacharya and a prominent member of Ashtachhaap was blind by birth. By the grace of Lord he was bestowed with the powers that he could have darshan of lord Shrinathji, the revered deity of his Guru. He then used to sing sweet compositions admiring the beauty and charm of the appearance of Lord on each day. These compositions were so realistic, describing even the colors of the attire that everybody was surprised at the details. To demonstrate the divinity of Surdas, Swami Ballabhacharyaji decorated the Lord with flowers and flowers only, no cloths, on a summer evening. Flowery attire was so artistic and made so dense that No devotee was able to make out that Shinathji was not wearing any cloths. Every visitor had a fulfilling darshan, praised the divine appearance of lord by his/her own perception and felt immensely blessed to have such darshan. But, lo, the blind by birth devotee, saint Surdas started singing:

 

Aaj hari dekhe nangam nanga|

 

Meaning: today, I saw the Lord naked!

 

As you enter the temple courtyard these summer evenings you would be welcomed by the cool showers from the central fountain and pleasant fragrance of flowers. As you move closer to Bihariji you are sprinkled with gentle spray of rose water. Above all you see the charming Lord over there in very different attire!

 

Whenever Bihariji comes out in the jagmohan it becomes a very special occasion for the devotees. We know He is always with us and everywhere he protects us still we come to the temple for a physical Darshan that gives us a reassuring feeling of his closeness, grace and kindness. When He is in Jagmohan we are physically much closer to Him. These 110 summer evenings, starting from Chaitra Shukla Ekadashi and ending till Haryali Amavasya (in the month of Shravan), are very special evenings in this sense.

 

So, visit the Lord one of these days and pray to Him to grant a cosmic vision like that of saint Surdas! Or simply pray whatever you like!



Festival Significance : First day of Phool Bangla
Festival Date (Hindu Calender) : Chaitra Shukla Ekadashi
Festival Date (English Calender) : Tue, 27 Mar 2018


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