← Radha Vallabha Temple
Starting from Margashirsha Shukla Dwadashi, also known as Vyanjan Dwadashi, a month-long ‘Khichri Festival’ is celebrated in the ancient temples of Lord Krishna in Braj every year. This year Vyanjan Dwadashi was celebrated on December 20.
The humble ‘khichri’ made of rice and lentils is the ultimate winter comfort food particularly when cooked in pure ghee, with lots of nuts and warming spices such as saffron, nutmeg, cloves and pepper. The ‘khichri bhog’ is mostly prepared by the temple priests/goswamis themselves.
In Vrindavan’s Radharaman Temple, ‘khichri’ is being offered to the deity as ‘Shringaar Bhog’. Lord RadhaRaman savours his ‘khichri’ while enjoying the warmth from the simmering ‘angithi’ (brazier). Other winter delicacies such as ‘til laddoos’ and ‘til pattis’ made using sesame seeds and jaggery are also offered to him with the accompaniment of traditional songs sung by devotees.
While Vyanjan Dwadshi approximately marks the setting in of crisp winters, not all temples celebrate ‘Khichri Festival’ beginning this day. In RadhaVallabh Temple, for instance, ‘Khichri Utsav’ will commence from January 8. However, most changes in temple rituals happen around this Dwadashi and the following ‘Margashirsha Poornima’ (full-moon, December 22) which is celebrated as ‘gaddal poornima’ – the day when thick woollen blankets are offered to the deities.
Radha Raman’s Khichri Bhog →
‘Angithis’ are being lit for the lord’s comfort in various temples in Mathura-Vrindavan including Dwarkadhish, RadhaVallabh, RadhaRaman, Radha Damodar, RadhaShyamsundar, RadhaGopinath, Radhika Priyavallabh, Yashodanand Dham, Rangji, Sevakunj and Gokulanand Temple.
While RadhaVallabh Lal is basking in the warmth from a ‘silver angithi’, a twist of nuts and saffron (‘kesar’) – from ‘kesar makhan mishri’ and ‘kesar halwa’ in the morning, to ‘kesar kheer’ in the afternoon and ‘kesar doodh’ at night – has been added to Banke Bihari ji’s bhog for the season. He is also being given a daily massage with ‘saffron ittr’ (perfumed essential oil)!
In Mathura’s Dwarkadhish Temple, ‘Rajadhiraj’ will be served ‘saffron milk’ and ‘suha – ag sonth’ made with saffron, almonds, dry ginger and other warm ingredients. All curtains will replaced with thick ones made of cotton. The service will continue for the next 40-45 days till the next Poornima.
Deities are being dressed in woollen clothes, and special ‘makhmal razaais’ (silk-velevt blankets), warm mattresses and ‘Pashmina’ quilts/covers are being used for ‘shayan’ rituals.