Vrindavan 2016.07.07 (VT): The six-day long “Pran Pratishtha” festival at the Lord Varadraj temple started yesterday. The festival was begun with a kalash yatra of 1008 women from the temple, which is located at the Bada Khatala Ashram near Rangaji’s Bada Bagicha, to Keshi Ghat.
Women decorated in the attire of gopis carried water pots on their heads to bring Yamuna water for the deity installation abhishek. A pair of camels and horses escorted them to Keshi Ghat after winding through the town via Chungi crossing and Gopinath Market.
The women then fetched the water from Yamuna to return to the temple so that the rituals can be started. The parade was accompanied by a group of devotees singing bhajans for the Lord.
Yesterday evening at 5 p.m. the Tamil Veda, Divya Prabandham, was recited. On the 10th, various rituals will be conducted to sanctify the buildings of the temple, including the main entrance or gopuram. The actual installation of the deity will take place on the 10th with a grand fire sacrifice. Festivities will be completed on the 11th.
Swami Rameshwaracharya of the Bada Khatala Ashram told our correspondent that saints and devotees from across the country have come to be a part of the pran-pratishtha festival. It started with the kalash yatra and will run till July 11, including cultural programmes like Sadhu Vani, Bhajan Sandhya (evening of religious songs) and dramas related to the Lord’s pastimes.
The word khatala is a corruption of the Sanskrit shat shala, meaning “six rooms” or departments. The idea is that there were six functions of the ashram — a deva-shala, or temple housing the deity, a yajna shala for fire sacrifices, a goshala or cowshed, a path-shala or school for students, a dharma shala or housing for pilgrims and sadhus, and a paka shala, or kitchen for the deities and devotees and food distribution.
The ashram is more than 150 years old and many great sadhus of the Ramanuja sampradaya have studied at its Sanskrit school, including Swami Sudharshanacharya (who was also present at the festivities), the current Ramanujacharya of the Sidhdata Ashram in Faridabad.
The temple and ashram have been undergoing renovations and improvements for several years and the new temple is quite magnificent. Swami Rameshwaracharya said that the temple renovations were supported by the wealthy Scindia (or Shinde) former royal family of Gwalior. Hundreds of thousands of devotees from around the country are expected to be present during the six-day celebration.
State Governor Ram Naik and saints from all over the country will also be a part of the celebration. Swami Dharacharya, Swami Shyama Narayancharya, Swami Shiv Narayanacharya, Swami Ram Prapannacharya, Mahant Phooldol Bihari Das, Swami Keshwacharya, Swami Sudarshanacharya, Ram Kishore Shingi, MVDA Chairman Mukesh Gautam, Congress City Chairman Sohan Singh Sisodia were present during the kalash yatra yesterday.
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