Holi festivities at Banke Bihari
Vrindavan’s temples celebrated Vasant Panchami today by offering colour to Thakurji and sharing the prasadi (offered) colour with the visitors. In most temples, the pujaris put small tikha marks of colour on people’s foreheads, however visitors to Banke Bihariji were not spared from a full onslaught of coloured powder sprayed from the altar.
Bihariji’s Ashish Goswami said that today marks the beginning of the fourty day Faag Mahotsav (celebration of eternal love). The festival is celebrated by the singing of special ‘Faag’ bhajans, which are sung throughout the Falgun month to celebrate the joyful games of Radha-Krishna and the onset of spring.
The hall at Shahji Temple
Another of Vrindavan’s historical temples, Shahji Temple, opens a special hall which is decorated with coloured chandeliers and mirrors which make for an enchanting atmosphere. The temple was build in 1863 by Lucknow’s Nawab, Fundan Lal Shah. The temple’s director, Shah Prashant Kumar, said that, apart from Vasant Panchami, the hall is also opened on one other day – the Trayodashi of the month of Shravan (August-September).
Pilgrims from far and wide took the opportunity to visit Vrindavan’s temples to have darshan of their beloved Thakurji covered in spring flowers. While some schools were open, many were forced to close due to the heavy traffic across Vrindavan.
Saraswati Temple, Vrindavan
Many of Braj’s students made a trip to Vrindavan’s Saraswati temple, which only opens for one day of the year, on Vasant Panchami. The pujaris go to great lengths to make the atmosphere festive by decorating the temple with flags and balloons and distributing sweets. Children who have the day of school hang around the temple all day, while others make a stop at the temple on their way home from school to present pens and notebooks which the pujari painstakingly ties with ceremonial threads. Situated behind Rangji’s garden, in a field of yellow mustard flowers, Saraswati temple is a special place for students and all of those who bow their heads to mother Saraswati knowing that whenever we speak or sing, she sits on our tongue.
The sunny weather made the occasion seem even more festive. It is said that the Vasant Panchami is primarily a North Indian festival because the contrast between winter and summer is greater in the North. Vasant Panchami is celebrated as the fifth day of spring. Yellow predominates and women celebrate the occasion by wearing yellow or gold saris, however, the weather still necessitates sweaters and shawls.