Vrindavan, 26 October 2019
Of the many festivals that are celebrated during the holy month of Kartik, Deepawali is considered most special. Although there are various Puranic legends and folklores associated with it, Diwali in Braj has its own distinct flavour that can be experienced in the many fascinating rituals and traditions that are observed in the devalayas of Shri Dham.
One such interesting ritual associated with the occasion is the Game of Dice or ‘Choupar’ that is played between Radharani and Shri Krishna. It is the main attraction for devotees and visitors to Braj on Diwali evening.
The divine couple looks every bit royal seated in specially made silver mansions that are embellished with precious gems. A ‘choupad’ is spread out in front of them with two temple goswamis/sevayats playing the game on behalf of Thakur ji and Shri Radha. The dice is rolled and the game commences. While individual parlays are won and lost, the final victory, as a rule, goes to Radharani!
The ‘padas’ (verses) related to Diwali and ‘chopar’ are a part of Braj’s oral and written history/literature found in the works of Mahakavi Surdas and other rasik saints such as Hariram Vyas, Nagaridas, Dhruvdas, and Chacha Hit Vrindavan Das.
Describing the alluring pastimes of the Lord playing the game of dice, Shri Govindswamiji writes…
Hatri baithe Shri Gopal
Ratan jadit ki hatri bani hai
Motin jhalari param rasaal
Verses such as the above have inspired many miniature paintings in Kishangarh, Jaipur, Bundi and Guler style. In some of these paintings Shri Radha-Krishna are depicted lighting lamps and enjoying fireworks along with the sakhis.
This article is based on a Facebook Post by Shri Laxmi Narayan Tiwari, Founder Secretary- Braj Culture Research Institute, Goda Vihar, Vrindavan.