As preparations for Govardhan’s famous Mudiya Mela get underway, transport authorities have announced that 1500 buses will be deployed to ferry people back and forth to the Mela. The same amount of buses was deployed last year and despite the extra buses, there will be standing room only.
Govardhan’s Mudiya Mela is being celebrated this year between 14th July to 20th July. The biggest day of the fair will be Purnima, Tuesday 16th May.
Purnima is always a big day for Govardhan Parikrama, as devotees enjoy circumambulating Giriraj on the night of the full moon. These days, the hot weather makes night time Parikrama even more popular and Govardhan becomes a 24 hour city.
The crowds are so dense that walking at a quick pace becomes difficult so Parikrama takes a little longer than usual and the unbroken chain of people makes people imagine that Giriraj Maharaj is wearing a garland of devotees.
The festival commemorates Guru Purnima, which coincides with the disappearance day of Srila Sanatan Goswami, the doyen of the six Goswamis of Vrindavan. The term mudiya refers to the shaving of heads that the Vaishnavas performed in mourning for Sanatan Goswami. Since Sanatan is often credited with restarting the practice of circumambulating Giriraj, this became the principal way of commemorating him. But visiting the major temples around Govardhan, including Mukharavind and Danghati, and bathing in the Manasa Ganga and other tanks around Govardhan form part of the ritual.
While it is a bit early for international tourists, many consider that the festival season begins in Braj with Guru Purnima. Locals watch as the town wakes up from a seeming slumber during the summer months and pandals appear in every available space.
Gurus who have come from across the state and interstate to follow their dream of building a temple/ashram in Vrindavan are visited by disciples from their home town or village. Jagran programs are popular, so those who don’t do Parikrama can enjoy all-night kirtan. Guru Purnima is the foremost opportunity of the year to pay tribute to our shiksha and diksha Gurus; Those who give us the gems of knowledge that brighten our days.
Whether you celebrate by doing Govardhan Parikrama or by remembering your own Guru, Guru Purnima is a prime opportunity to meditate on the great saints of Braj – people like Sanatan Goswami whose renunciation and simplicity endeared him to all.
Instead of aspiring for flashy Deity worship, Sanatan Goswami told Madan Mohan ji that, since he lived mostly by eating plain bread balls, he would not be able to guarantee that he can provide salt, even if that is the wish of the Lord. For Sanatan Goswami, the internal aspects of devotion far outweighed the external practices. He spent his days meditating on the Pastimes of the Lordships.
Sanatan Goswami’s Govardhan shila
It is said that the mercy of the Dham is magnified by the saints who have walked on this holy land. Sanatan Goswami is one saint from which we all receive countless blessings. His dedication to Govardhan Parikrama was so intense that he attempted to do it daily, even in advanced age. Wanting to save his devotee from hardships, even those willingly undertaken, the most merciful Lord Krishna personally presented Sanatan Goswami with a Govardhan Shila, whose Parikrama gives the same benefit as the entire Govardhan Parikrama. This Shila is now installed in Radha Damodar temple in Vrindavan, so, even today, devotees benefit from the boon granted to Sanatan Goswami.