‘Andal Utsav’ or ‘Shri Vivah Utsav’– the five-day festival celebrating the marriage of Devi Goda (Lakshmi or Andal) and Lord Ranganath was concluded at Vrindavan’s Rangji Temple yesterday.
The festival commenced on 10th January with a grand procession in which Goda Devi went around the temple to invite her ‘sakhis’ (friends) to the ‘wedding’.
Accompanied by sounds of ‘dhol’ and ‘shehnaai’ in traditional south Indian style, the goddess reached the ‘Barahdwari’ where women devotees welcomed her with turmeric and flowers.
Temple Sevaiyats and their families were joined by hundreds of people to witness the marriage ceremony of the ‘Divya Dampathi’ (divine couple).
Devi Goda blessed devotees with her veiled glances while going around the temple in her palanquin.
After four days of festivities, Andal and Lord Rangamannar married in accordance with Vedic rituals and injunctions, yesterday.
As per tradition, the bride was taken for ‘Yamuna Darshan’ in the morning. All pre-marriage rituals were conducted in the ‘Barahdwari’.
In the afternoon, Lord Ranganath mounted his ‘vahan’ – Garuda, and proceeded towards Barahdwari. The marriage procession was greeted by Shri Godamma’s father, Vishnuchitta Suri. Betel nuts, silk clothes, and other presents were offered to the Lord on arrival.
The temple resounded with Vedic chants as ‘Saptapadi’ rituals – the most important ritual in a Hindu marriage ceremony where the bride and groom go around the holy fire seven times and take the seven marriage vows – were conducted. Lord Ranganath tied a ‘Magalasutra’ (sacred thread) around Devi Lakshmi’s neck.
After the ‘Saptapadi’ rituals, the divine couple gave ‘darshan’ to devotees in ‘Sheesh Mahal’. The ceremony concluded with Lord Rangamannar’s bathing rituals in the temple pond (Pushkarni).
Shri Rangji Temple, Vrindavan
Built in 1851, Sri Rangji Mandir is dedicated to Lord Sri Goda-Rangamannar. Goda or Andal as she is popularly known in South India was a great 8th century Vaishnava poet-saint and Lord Ranganatha is none other than Shri Krishna.
Goda composed the ‘Tiruppuvai’ – a collection of devotional poems/songs of love for her beloved Lord Krishna and his ‘lila bhoomi’, Vrindavan. Lord Ranganatha answered her prayers by becoming her bridegroom.
In Rangji Mandir, Lord Krishna is present as the bridegroom with a walking stick in his hand as is the custom in a traditional south Indian marriage. To his right is Andal and to the left, Garuda – his vahana.
Shri Rangji temple is one of the largest temples in North India where one can witness the coming together of south and north Indian traditions in the spirit of Goda herself.