Vrindavan, 2016.01.12 (V.T.): The Khichdi Mahotsava begins at the Radha Ballabh Mandir on Monday following various traditions. The Lord is dressed up in various disguises after the Mangala Arati. In order to get a glimpse of thakur ji, the eager devotees crowded in the temple corridor. The atmosphere was filled with cheers when the Lord gave darshan in disguise. The devotees cried ‘Radha Ballabh Lal ki jai’ when the curtain of the temple opened. The Lord gave darshan wearing special warm dresses, shawl and a cap.
The devotees had darshan of Thakur Shri Radha Ballabh Lal in various disguises including, bangle seller, a fruit vendor and a Sakhi. Throughout the month, immediately after the mangala arati, Radha Vallabh is dressed in a Chadam Vesh, or on or the various disguises by which He managed to meet Radha Rani in Varsana. Daily three four darshans are given in the interval of 5 – 7 minutes.
This tradition is continued since the time of the temple was built. The Khichdi festival starts on Paush Shukla Dvitiya and continues until Magha Shukla Pratipad. The month long festival will continue till 9th February.
According to the sevaits of the temple, Radha Ballabh is offered a different Khichdi each day after the mangala arati throughout the coldest part of the year. On Makar Sankranti dried fruits and nuts are an important part of the offering.
Dr. Chandra Prakash Sharma, an ardent devotee of Radha Ballabh Lal said, “The Khichdi is cooked by the Goswamis with their own hands. The Khichdi is very dear to Thakur Shri Radha Ballabh Lal, as it warms the innards during the cold season. The Khichdi is distributed to the devotees after offering to the Lord.”
The ingredients of the khichdi comprise of super fine rice meticulously cleaned, moong dal, one of the earliest lentis described in ancient scriptures of India, rock salt (sainda namak), white pepper, cumin seed, nutmeg, cloves, green and black cardamom, cinnamon, mace (javitri), bay leaves (tej patta), cashew nuts, raisins, almonds, pistachio, coconut, dates and saffron.
The finished preparation is enriched with the sumptuous addition of ghee (clarified butter), which can be seen floating at each and every level. The khichdi is accompanied by sandane (pickles of various types prepared under purity and hygienic condition in the Lords kitchen itself, without mustard oil), basundhi ( a prepration of concentrated milk), adrak koocha (ginger sauce). The last preparation is a delicacy whose exact recipe is a strictly guarded secret, and is available only to a few blessed lucky devotees during this festival as holy prasad. This adrak koocha consists of ginger well cleaned and ground on a stone mortar with a stone pestle along with black salt, rock salt, sloes (aloo bukhara), pomegranate seeds (anar dana), black currants (mungaa), black peeper, cumin seeds and some other ingredients that have digestive properties. The foods offered to the Lord have a close relation to health. The food is prepared under hygienic condition and prepared in utensils of metals suitable for health.
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