From today, everyone’s beloved Banke Bihari Lal will appear in beautiful palaces made of flowers (phool bangla). The phool bangla festival begins on Kamada (Phuldol) Ekadashi in the Banke Bihari Temple, and will continue up to Hariyali Amavasya. For 108 days, Thakurji will give his darshan amidst the most lavishly fragrant flowers.
The tradition of offering Banke Bihari a flower house or phool bangla in summer was started by Swami Haridasji himself. The purpose of this offering is to give Thakurji relief from the summer heat. In those early days, Banke Bihari’s phool bangla was an intimate affair in Nidhivan Raj, but in modern times the phool banglas are extremely grand and opulent.
Generally, devotees have to wait one year for the chance to sponsor a phool bangla for Banke Bihari. Temple sevayat Srinath Goswami says that most of this year’s bookings were made last year, and if anyone wants to offer one this year, the chance is very slim. There may be only one or two days left available throughout the summer. According to Prahlad Vallabh Goswami, the cost of each phool bangla ranges from thousands to hundreds of thousands of rupees.
The phool bangla tradition also nourishes Vrindavan’s economy, providing a good deal of business to the gardners who provide the flowers and the artisans who construct the banglas. Both Indian and foreign flowers are used, including carnations, marigolds, lillies, lotuses, orchids, rajnigandha (tuberose), roses and various kinds of jasmine.
Shri Radhavallabh Ji, Shri Radharaman Ji, Shri Radha-Shyamsundar Ji, Shri Saneha Bihari Ji and other deities of Vrindavan will also be offered phool banglas during this period.