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    Braj saints leave for Kumbh

    Vrindavan, 10.01.2019 Kumbh Mela, the mass Hindu pilgrimage and also the world’s largest religious gathering, has started in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh. Millions of pilgrims will attend the event over the course of approximately 48 days to bathe at the sacred confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna, and Sarasvati. Sadhus and saints of Braj have also reached Prayagraj to attend this auspicious event. The first ‘Shahi Snaan’ will be held on ‘Makar Sankranti’ (January 15). Karshni Guru SharananandJi Maharaj, Swami Swaroopanand Maharaj, Swami Govindanand, Swami Maheshanand and Acharya Ashok Joshi from the Raman Reti ‘Karshni Udasin Ashram’ left for the Kumbh on Wednesday. Religious discourses and cultural programmes have been organised by the Karshni Shivir at sector 7, Prayagraj Kumbh. Chote Thakur Harivallabh Sharma will perform ‘Raaslila’. Mahant Ladlisharan Das said that the glories of Prayagraj Kumbh are as eternal and pristine as the spiritual and cultural heritage of Braj. Prominent religious personalities such as Yog-guru Swami Ramdev, The Dalai Lama, Jagadguru Rambhadracharya, Govind Dev Giri Maharaj, Bhagvat Bhaskar Krishnachandra Shastri Thakurji, Maluk Pithadheeshwar Mahant Rajendra Das Maharaj and Achraya Pundarik Goswami have been invited to address pilgrims at the Karshni Shivir. Braj saints will forcefully demand the construction of Ayodhya Ram Temple at the ‘Kumbh Dharm Sansad’ which will be held on January 31 and February 01. Recognised as ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ by UNESCO last year, Kumbh Mela is the largest public gathering and collective act of faith. It is held every three years in one of the four places including Haridwar (Ganges), Ujjain (Kshipra), Nashik (Godavari), and Prayagraj by rotation. At any given place, the Kumbh is held once in 12 years. A special Kumbh fair is held in Vrindavan, on the banks of the Yamuna every 12 years, whenever the main Kumbh is at Haridwar. There are several lilas relating the Kumbh to Vrindavan. One popular belief is that while flying with the pitcher of amrit (nectar) obtained after ‘Samudra Manthan’, Garud Dev sat on the Kadamba tree at Kalidah.
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    ← Dauji temple, Baldao Vrindavan, 23.12.2018 Brajraj Dauji Maharaj’s 438th appearance day was celebrated on Agahan Poornima (December 22) in Baldeo. The day began with learned Brahmins chanting Balbhadra Sahasrasnaam (1000 names of Lord Balbhadra) amidst the enchanting sound of the Shehnai horn After a ‘Panchamrita’ and saffron abhishek (bathing ceremony), Dauji was offered a warm blanket as part of the ritual that signals the onset of the extreme winter. According to temple priest, Ramnivas Sharma, the quilt offered to Dauji and his Divine Consort Revati is made using a 75-metre-long cloth and 12 Kgs of cotton. Dauji’s Poshak requires 56 metres of warm fabric. The Deities were offered special Kheer (rice pudding) in the afternoon and warm milk with nuts at night. The day also marked the commencement of the month-long Agahan Poornima Mela, popularly known as the ‘Lakkhi Mela’. The fair was inaugurated by UP Power Minister Shrikant Sharma. MLA Pooran Prakash was the other chief guest. Dauji (elder brother of Lord Krishna and the King of Braj) and Mata Revati (daughter of King Kakudmi) appeared on Margashirsha Poornima of Samvat 1638 (1583 as per the Gregorian calendar). The murti (statues) were consecrated by Shrimad Vallabhacharya Mahaprabhu’s grandson, Goswami Gokulnath and were first worshiped in a small hut. The temple was constructed a year later, with Dauji’s responsibilities being handed over to Goswami Kalyan Dev and his descendants. According to archaeologists, the Dauji murti dates back to Kushan Period and is the most ancient in Braj. The seven-headed serpent, ‘Sheshnaag’ can be seen above His head.
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    What’s cooking in Thakurji’s winter kitchens?

    Vrindavan, 22.12.2018 ← Radha Vallabha Temple Starting from Margashirsha Shukla Dwadashi, also known as Vyanjan Dwadashi, a month-long ‘Khichri Festival’ is celebrated in the ancient temples of Lord Krishna in Braj every year. This year Vyanjan Dwadashi was celebrated on December 20. The humble ‘khichri’ made of rice and lentils is the ultimate winter comfort food particularly when cooked in pure ghee, with lots of nuts and warming spices such as saffron, nutmeg, cloves and pepper. The ‘khichri bhog’ is mostly prepared by the temple priests/goswamis themselves. In Vrindavan’s Radharaman Temple, ‘khichri’ is being offered to the deity as ‘Shringaar Bhog’. Lord RadhaRaman savours his ‘khichri’ while enjoying the warmth from the simmering ‘angithi’ (brazier). Other winter delicacies such as ‘til laddoos’ and ‘til pattis’ made using sesame seeds and jaggery are also offered to him with the accompaniment of traditional songs sung by devotees. While Vyanjan Dwadshi approximately marks the setting in of crisp winters, not all temples celebrate ‘Khichri Festival’ beginning this day. In RadhaVallabh Temple, for instance, ‘Khichri Utsav’ will commence from January 8. However, most changes in temple rituals happen around this Dwadashi and the following ‘Margashirsha Poornima’ (full-moon, December 22) which is celebrated as ‘gaddal poornima’ – the day when thick woollen blankets are offered to the deities. Radha Raman’s Khichri Bhog → ‘Angithis’ are being lit for the lord’s comfort in various temples in Mathura-Vrindavan including Dwarkadhish, RadhaVallabh, RadhaRaman, Radha Damodar, RadhaShyamsundar, RadhaGopinath, Radhika Priyavallabh, Yashodanand Dham, Rangji, Sevakunj and Gokulanand Temple. While RadhaVallabh Lal is basking in the warmth from a ‘silver angithi’, a twist of nuts and saffron (‘kesar’) – from ‘kesar makhan mishri’ and ‘kesar halwa’ in the morning, to ‘kesar kheer’ in the afternoon and ‘kesar doodh’ at night – has been added to Banke Bihari ji’s bhog for the season. He is also being given a daily massage with ‘saffron ittr’ (perfumed essential oil)! In Mathura’s Dwarkadhish Temple, ‘Rajadhiraj’ will be served ‘saffron milk’ and ‘suha – ag sonth’ made with saffron, almonds, dry ginger and other warm ingredients. All curtains will replaced with thick ones made of cotton. The service will continue for the next 40-45 days till the next Poornima. Deities are being dressed in woollen clothes, and special ‘makhmal razaais’ (silk-velevt blankets), warm mattresses and ‘Pashmina’ quilts/covers are being used for ‘shayan’ rituals.