Braj, 2018.03.28 9
After a particularly mild winter, the Indian summer is setting in early. The heatwave has already caused rail tracks to bend in Mumbai and, in Braj, people have started worried about whether Thakurji is comfortable.
By serving Thakurji and worrying about whether Thakurji is feeling hot, devotees forget about their own discomfort and become absorbed in service.
Phool Bangala in Radha Raman temple, P.C. Shri Mathura Ji
The extravagant phool bangalas (flower decorations) that adorn temples and altars of temples such as Radha Raman and Banke Bihari, are one of the methods used to help thakurji feel cool. The ‘phool bangala season’ begins after Kamada Ekadashi, which was observed on 27th March this year, with people making big donations to provide for one day of flowers in prominent temples.
Another method that devotees use to keep Thakurji cool is applying sandalwood although many have to fall back on imitation sandalwood powder as real sandalwood comes from a slow growing tree and is expensive. In Braj’s temples, sandalwood paste is ground from cut branches of the sandalwood tree. Devotees will soon start grinding the paste, in preparation for Chandan Yatra (sandalwood festival), which begins from Akshay Tritya. This year Akshay Tritya falls on April 18th. On this day, the main deities of most of the temples of Vrindavan are covered in sandalwood paste, and, in the following days, the Uttasav Vigrah deities are covered.
Many temples also pay attention to the comfort of visitors in the extreme heat. Radha Damodar temple uses water coolers to cool down the temple room and Sarvamangala Ma temple is air conditioned.
The makers of Thakurji’s poshak (clothes) have started making special summer clothes, especially for Bal Gopal as Brajwasis are particularly fond of worshipping Shri Krishna’s child form. Just as as people lovingly dress Thakurji in sweaters, now, with just as much care, people are selecting clothes that will be comfortable in the heat.
Clothes are being made of light cloth, including cotton and net. Poshak sellers are expecting a rush on Thakurji’s summer clothes in the beginning of April. Poshak Seller Rajkumar Agarwal said that the demand for summer clothes is starting to pick up.
Radha Damodar’s phool bangala and chandan seva