Appearance day of Shree Radha rani ji
Raas Raaseshwari Shri Radhey appeared in Brij Mandal as the lovely daughter of Shri Vrishbhanuji in Barsana on Bhadrapad Shukla Ashtami i.e. eighth day of bright fortnight of the Bhadrapad month. Her village Barsana is located between Goverdhan and Nandgaon. The entire area is agricultural in nature and land beyond fields is densely forested. These forests are inhabited by large colonies of monkeys and peacocks apart from other wild animals. Peacocks entering inside the populated area and dancing on the rooftops is a common site here. Similarly monkeys entering into houses and running away with food items or anything that they may fancy about are a frequent occurrence. Brijvasi, as the residents of these areas are known, are a kind hearted lot. They do not get angered and hurt the monkeys rather they just scare them away. The area is dotted with a large numbers of natural springs and ponds which are called as Kunds. So this beautiful land has the distinction of being the playground of Radha and Krishna.
In this beautiful land of Brij, Radha’s birthday is celebrated with the same joy and zeal as Krishna’s. Again the temples are decorated, special prayers are offered and devotional songs congratulating Sh Vrishbhanu on birth of a daughter are sung in chorus.
Devi Radha, the mother eternal, is very kind hearted and loving. She is the driving force behind all of the Krishna’Leelas . The spirit of Brij Bhakti is Raasleela, where Radha is supreme. Lord Krishna seeks her permission and it is at her pleasure that the Leela is continued.
As ordinary mortal beings, we all know it is much easier to gain favors from mother. Mother gives us birth, mother nourishes us, mother protects us, mother educates us, mother gives us character and virtues, mother gives us everything and in difficult times we call back her for overcoming our own weakness. So, on this occasion pray to universal mother:
Radhey shri vrishbhanu dulari, hum per kripa karo maharaj,
Aisi kripa karo maharaj, sada hum brij mein karein niwas,
Radhey shri vrishbhanu dulari, hum per kripa karo maharaj.
Appearance day of Swami Shree Haridas ji
Swami Haridas was a multi faceted personality. Primarily we know him as the saint who realized God through the route of nad brahma sadhna i.e. praying continuously in music. He not only composed a large number of poems (pad) but also started and perfected newer raags in classical music to sing the same. He realized God in the form of Shri Bankey Bihari, started the tradition of and initiated his disciples into rasopasna bhakti. He is also known as Adya Acharya of Raas Leela tradition. His birthday, which falls on Radha Ashtami day, is celebrated as a very special day in the temple, in Nidhivan and in Vrindavan.
Nidhivan as well as temple, both are decorated tastefully with flowers, flags and hangings. We have regular darshan at both places in the morning. In afternoon, around 4:30 PM, Raas Leela is staged in the courtyard of the temple. It is worthwhile to note, it is only once in the whole year on this day, that Raas Leela is performed in the temple. The theme of Leela is veni guthan, that is, Krishna makes up the hair of Radha and ties it into a nice braid. The Leela is based on one of the compositions of Swami Haridas as under (from Shri Kelimal):
Baini goonthi kaha kou janain meri see, teri saun.
Bich bich phool set peet rate, aur ko kari sakai reesaun.
Baithe rasik sanvaran baran, komal kar kakahi saun.
Shri Haridas ke swami syama nakh- sikh laun banai,
De kajar nakh hi saun.
This is one of the extremely sweet compositions of Swamiji in rag sarang. Transliteration goes like:
Shri Krishna says:” Hey Shri Radhey, I swear by you no one knows to braid the hair comparable to me. I can interweave flowers of various colours – white, yellow and other – in between the plaits which nobody else can do.” Submitting to the sweet talk, Radha agrees and Rasik Shiromani Shri Krishna starts caring her hair by his delicate hands. Krishna not only makes a braid (Baini or vaini ), but makes her up from toe to head ( nakh- shikh sringar). He finally applies kajar (kajal or the lampblack).
The very same leela was performed on the same Radha Ashtami day at Vishram Ghat, Mathura in the presence of Shri Swami Ballabhacharya and Sri Swami Haridas when they jointly revived the then extinct tradition of staging Raas Leela. The tradition continues and the Leela is staged in the afternoon of Radha Ashtami day in the courtyard of Sri Bankey Bihari temple.
In the evening a grand procession, called chav, is taken out from the temple. The procession consists of several brass bands, other musical performing groups, decorated elephants, high flags and keertan groups. It is headed by the swaroops of Raas Mandali, who earlier stage Leela in the temple. Devotees from far and near form their own keertan mandalis and become part of the procession. The Goswamis participate in a group singing devotional songs, celebrating birth of Swami Haridas in a very special style known as samaj gayan. Lot many gifts – as Prasad of Bihariji – are carried along to be presented to Swami Haridas. The spirit behind the procession is being – Bihariji going to greet Swami Haridas on this auspicious occasion.
The procession heads for Nidhivan, the place of Swami Haridas’s penance and place of appearance of Bihariji. On arrival of the procession here Swamiji is offered the Prasad sent by Bihariji and Raas Leela is performed upto late night. Again this is the only day when devotees can stay in Nidhivan so late in the evening. At the conclusion of Raas Leela Aarti is performed and devotees disperse chanting:
Jai jai shri kunjbihari shri haridas, jai jai shri vrindavan nidhivan vaas.
Swami Haridas Sangeet Sammelan
On the occasion of Radha Ashtami a grand festival of classical music and dance is organized in Vrindavan. Musicians and dancer of repute consider it a privilege to get invited for this festival. The Sammelan goes on for three to four days. Morning sessions are conducted in Nidhivan where musicians perform in front of the Samadhi Sthal of Swami Haridas to pay tribute to the all time great saint musician. In the evenings the venue of the programme shifts to specially erect huge shamianas at the outskirts of city. The performances generally continues till early mornings and the entire city gets drenched in the bhakti ras by the grace of Swami Shri Haridasji.
We are intentionally not giving any names here because it is almost impossible to prepare a comprehensive list of all those who have participated in this Sammelan and leaving out even a single artist would be an offence. But you think of any national level artist and he/she is certain to have performed in this Sammelan on one or the other occasion.
Festival Significance : Birthday of Swami Haridasji
Birthday of Radhaji
Festival Date (Hindu Calender) : Bhadrapad Shukla Ashtami
Festival Date (English Calender) : Fri, 13 Sep 2013
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