To celebrate Shri Krishna’s Janmotsava every year, King Vrishabhanu, Rani Kirtida, Radharani and their whole family stay four days in Nanda Baba’s palace (Bhadra Krishna 7-10th).
Two weeks later, Nanda Maharaj, Yashoda Maa, Krishna and family come to Barsana and stay three days in King Vrishabhanu’s palace to celebrate Srimati Radhika’s birthday. From the first to the 8th day of the bright half of Bhadra month, King Vrishabhanu elaborately decorates all the homes and streets in Barsana in preparation for Radha’s appearance. Musicians and drummers purify the atmosphere with a continuous flow of auspicious songs and ragas.
Two days before Radhashtami, Vrishabhanu Maharaj sends Shridham to invite Nanda Baba and family to come honor Shri Radha’s birthday. On the 7th morning, Nanda Baba, Shri Krishna and Their family come to Barsana in bullock carts, palanquins and by walking. Kirtidarani and Vrishabhanu Maharaj warmly greet them, arrange their rooms and feed them nicely.
Shri Radha, Lalita-sakhi, Vishakha-sakhi and other gopi yutheshvaris cook rice, puris, sabjis and kheer, which is offered to Bhagavan Narayana and then served out to all the guests. Shri Radhika and the gopis lovingly quarrel over serving first. Yashoda pacifies everyone by making different lines with a different sakhi serving each one. After eating, everyone rests in their guestrooms.
As per the usual asta-kaliya lila schedule, Shri Radha cooks something for Krishna. Then carrying these items, Srimati and all go to Radha-kunda, meet Krishna, and enjoy Their midday pastimes.
In the morning of Radhashtami, everyone watches Radhika’s grand abhishek performed by Gargi, daughter of the kula-guru Garga Rishi. Musicians play vinas, dolaks, mrdangas, dundubhis and pakhowajas. Paurnamasi blesses Radha with different mantras. After bathing Radha with herbal water, panchamrit and gavya, a hundred pots of water, and a huge conch showering water through the 1,000 jal patra, Shri Radha is anointed with fragrant oils, musk, sandal and camphor and dressed.
The manjaris offer a beautiful arati to Radharani. Yashoda Maa offers blessings and wonderful gifts of costly clothes and ornaments to both Shri Radha and Her yutheshvaris. Vrishabhanu Maharaj and Radharani donate ornamented cows and calves. Then Radhika and Her sakhis take some prasada and then start cooking a feast.
In jest, Yashoda Maa says to Kirtida, “Sakhi, you are so hard hearted that you make tender Radha cook so much!” Kirtida replies, “Because our Radhika got a unique boon to cook nectar-filled health foods, my Prabhu Vrishabhanu wants you and Nanda Maharaja to savor Radha’s delicious preparations today. After Radha and the sakhis finish cooking, Yashodarani blesses them all and has some manjaris fan Radha to remove Her fatigue.
The Yogurt Game
Later everyone proceeds to the bank of Bhanukhor, King Vrishabhanu’s bathing tank on the east side of Barsana hill. Then, like on Janmashtami, everyone starts playing Dadhikada, a game of throwing yogurt, butter and milk on each other. Afterwards, according to age and gender, everyone bathes in different corners of Bhanukhor, eats and takes rest.
Later, Shri Radha goes to Radha-kunda and enjoys all Her usual pastimes with Krishna. The only exception to Their daily asta-kaliya lila flow is that, for these three days, Shri Krishna is staying with Radha in Her own palace in Barsana!
The next morning in Barsana, Radha-Krishna and the gopis bathe, eat and go out to perform Their usual morning pastimes. At noontime, Radha-Krishna and the gopis go to Mor Kutir in Barsana and Krishna entertains the gopikas by dancing like a peacock. Then Radha and Krishna throw laddus to all the sakhis. Later, at midday, Radha and Krishna dance the Rasa in a secret place in Gehvara, Radha’s personal garden/forest just near Her father’s palace.
In the late afternoon everyone returns to the palace. At that time, Shri Krishna, Nanda Baba and his family take leave from King Vrishabhanu and return home to Nandagram in the topmost bliss.
Shri Radha’s three day janmotsava ki jai!
Jai Jai Shri Radhe!