Sri Mudiya Puno and Abhishek of SriSri Radha Madanmohanji – courtesy Vrindavantoday.org

Braj’s most popular festival, Mudiya Puno (Guru Purnima), was celebrated on Sunday. This year an estimated six and a half million pilgrims attended the festival.
Across India, Guru Purnima is a day for worshipping one’s spiritual teachers. But in Braj this day coincides with the disappearance day of Sanatan Goswami, the seniormost of the famous Six Goswamis who rediscovered the lost holy places of Braj about five hundred years ago. Sanatan Goswami is considered to be the incarnation of a gopi named Lavang Manjari and his temple, the Shri Radha-Madanmohan Temple, is the oldest temple in Vrindavan. The word “mudiya” itself refers to the practice of mundan or shaving ones head, which the devotees perform to mourn Sanatan Goswami’s passing.

Filled with eagerness for Girirajji’s darshan, devotees literally risked their lives to attend the festival. Indian Railways added extra trains in an attempt to meet the demand of pilgrims journeying to Braj, but it was not enough. Devotees held on to the outsides of over-packed trains and busses, and many even rode on the roof shouting Giriraj Maharaj ki Jai!

In Vrindavan, the occasion was celebrated at Shri Radha-Madanmohan Temple where Shri Sanatan Goswami’s samadhi (tomb) is located. A beautiful new deity of Sanatan Goswami was installed this year along with an abhishek or ritual bath, and Sanatan Goswami’s suchak kirtan (a kirtan that tells the story of Sanatan Goswami’s life through song). A twenty-four hour naam sankirtan, chappan-bhog (an offering of 56 types of food) and prasad distribution were also organized by the temple. Devotees also enjoyed a dance drama on Sanatan Goswami’s life.

In Govardhan, the main attraction was the Mudiya Shobhayatra, a procession in honor of Sanatan Goswami. Following a centuries-old tradition, the Gaudiya Vaishnavs shaved their heads in remembrance of Shri Sanatan and paraded through the streets around Mansi Ganga to the beating of drums and small cymbals, as they sang songs of longing for their Guru. The procession began near Sanatan Goswami’s bhajan-sthali at Chakleshwar and continued through Dasbisa, Saunkh Adda, Danghati, Deeg Adda, Bada Bazar, Hathi Darwaza and back. Many of the millions of devotees who were performing Govardhan Parikrama tried to get a glimpse of the beautiful procession, with the chitrapat (picture) of Sanatan Goswami leading the way.
The Uttar Pradesh Tourism Department also chose Mudiya Puno weekend to test their Helicopter Parikrama service. A number of devotees sampled the ten-minute helicopter ride, at a cost of Rs. 2,499.

Abhishek of Madan Mohan on the Eve of Mudiya Puno

On the eve of his disapperance day, which is now known as “Mudiya Puno”, Shri Sanatan Goswami performed the abhishek of Madan Mohan. The tradition continued today as Madan Mohan’s abhishek was performed in a grand way.

The abhishek was administered by Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami of the Shri Radharaman Temple and performed by Shri Sanatan Kishori Goswami of the Shri Radha-Madan Mohan Temple. Vijay Kishor Goswami, Ajay Kishor Goswami, Arun Goswami, Prateek Goswami and other Goswamis also participated.
According to the Goswamis of Shri Madan Mohan Temple, the abhishek was done according to Haribhakti Vilas, Govind Abhishek Paddhati and Bhagwat Bhakti Vilas by Roop Goswami, Sanatan Goswami and Gopal Bhatt Goswami. A small Giriraj Shila which Shri Sanatan Goswami used to keep in his mala jholiwas also offered abhishek.
Celebrations will continue this evening with katha by Shri Premdas Shastri, and kirtan by Madhukar Ji.
The abhishek marks the second day of the festival. Yesterday Adhivas Kirtan was held, and tomorrow a special pooja and suchak kirtan will be held at Sanatan Goswami’s samadhi. A new murti of Sanatan Goswami will also be installed.

Mudiya Puno is Guru Purnima and the disappearance day of Sanatan Goswami. It is by far the largest festival in Braj. Millions of pilgrims are expected to perform Govardhan Parikrama and visit Sanatan Goswami’s bhajan kutir at Chakleshwar and his samadhi at Shri Radha-Madanmohan Temple in Vrindavan.

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