Friday, January 17, 2020

Sri Rang Ji Mandir, Vrindavan

Sri Rang Ji Mandir of Vrindavan is one of the biggest temple premises in North India. The temple is dedicated to the divine couple Sri Goda-Rangamannar. Sri Goda, known popularly as Andal was an 8th century Vaishnava saint of South India and a great devotee of Lord Krishna. She composed Tiruppuvai, a 30-stanza long poem in which she proclaims her love for Lord Krishna. Andal dedicated her life in the devotion of Lord Krishna and wanted to marry Him. Lord Krishna in his Ranganatha form answered her prayers by marrying her. In the main sanctum of the temple, Lord Ranganatha is seated in the middle while Goda accompanies him on the right and the vehicle of Lord Krishna, Garuda on the left.

Rang Ji temple also known as Ranganatha Ji temple is the biggest amongst the few South Indian styled temples in Northern part of the country. Its architectural style is inspired by Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam in the state of Tamil Nadu. The temple was built in 1851. Great Vaishnav scholar Sri Rangadeshik Swamiji was the main force behind the construction of Sri Rang Ji temple. Ragadeshik Swamiji’s wealthy disciples Seth Govind Dasji and Seth Radhakrishna Dasji contributed financially for the construction of the temple.

Sri Rang Ji Mandir boasts a rare amalgamation of South Indian and North Indian religious customs. It hosts a 10-day Sri Brahmotasav, a South Indian event along with Holi, the festival of colour played in North India. Additionally, the temple organized various Vaishnava events throughout the year. The 10-day Vaikuntha Utsava is amongst them, during which Vaikuntha Dwara of the temple is opened on the day of Vaikuntha Ekadashi. This is once in a year event.

The temple comprises five concentric rectangular courtyards around the main sanctum and two gigantic gates carved in Jaipur style on the eastern and western side of the temple. The temple also hosts a 50-feet high wooden chariot which is taken out only once a year during Brahmotsav and a 50-feet high gilded Dhwaja-Sthambha.    

Five-day Vivahotsava of Godamma at Ranganatha Ji Temple, Vrindavan

Sri Rang Ji Mandir hosts 5-day Vivahotsava of Goda Amma every year in the month of Magha. The Utsava, during which various South Indian wedding rituals are conducted for five days concluded with the wedding ceremony of Sri Goda and Lord Rangamannar on the day of Makar Sankranti. This year, the Utsava started on 10th January. During the one month of Dhanurmas, Godamma kept fast to attain Lord Krishna as her husband. As a result of her devotion to the Lord, He married her on the last day of the Dhanurmas which is Makar Sankranti.

On the first day of the Vivahotsava, Godamma left her abode to extend the wedding invitation to her friends. Her wedding invitation contains a fresh tuber of turmeric, turmeric leaves, betel leaf, areca nut, fresh flowers, flower garland and other auspicious articles. During her visit, Godamma practice the North Indian tradition and carries a Ghunghat around her head. On each day of the Vivahotsava, Godamma is donned in a Mala of Lord Ranganatha as special wedding jewellery.

On the second day and third day, Haldi ceremony is performed. During the Haldi ceremony, a paste of turmeric and saffron is put on Godamma which is followed by Abhishek with milk and curd. Then her hair is treated with aromatic oil and done in a beautiful hairstyle. After every ritual, Godamma checks her reflection in the mirror held by the temple priest. Women devotees sing Suhag songs on the occasion. During wedding rituals, Godamma reflects the blissful blush of a bride which mesmerize old and young equally.

On the fourth day, Godamma receives the gifts of saree, shawl, fruits, flowers, dry fruits and utensils from Sri Rangadeshik Swamiji. The gifts reflect the fatherly love of Swamiji for Godamma.

Sri Godamma adorned as a bride on her wedding day

Devotees carrying Sri Goda-Rangamannar in Palanquin on their wedding day
The last day of the Vivahotsava is the wedding day. The wedding rituals take place at the Barahdwari Mandap near the eastern gate. On her wedding day, Godamma is adorned in a beautiful red saree which she carries with the elegance of a new bride. She also draws Ghunghat on her head. She is then carried in a palanquin in front of Lord Ranganatha. Here, Godamma is put a Mala of Lord Ranganatha as a special adornment. Following this, the procession reaches the banks of River Yamuna. After Godamma receives the blessings of Yamuna, Aarti is done and the procession returns to the temple.

After a little rest, Godamma is adorned with turmeric, Kumkum and other Suhag items and transformed into a beautiful bride. An event of Jai-Mala is also conducted as part of wedding rituals. During the Jai-Mala, flower garlands are exchanged between Godamma and Lord Ranganatha three times. All through the wedding rituals, devotees and priests sing Mangal Geet or wedding songs. From here, the procession is taken to Barahdwari Mandap, where Lord Ranganatha put Mangal-Sutra around the neck of Godamma. The five-day festivities end with the fulfilment of first amongst the three wishes of Godamma which she expressed in Nachiyar Tirumozhi, a set of 143 verses composed by Godamma in praise of Lord Krishna.  

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