Jhulan Purnima

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Jhulan Purnima
Official name Jhulan Purnima/ঝুলন পূর্ণিমা
Also called Dol jatra/দোল যাত্রা
Observed by Hindus, Vaishnavas
Type Hindu, Vedic
Celebrations Family and other social gatherings, shopping and gift-giving, pandal-hopping, lighting decorations, cultural dance, idol immersion etc.
Date Shraavana Purnima
2018 date August 21 through August 25
Frequency annual
Related to Janmāstami

Jhulan Yatra is one of the most important festivals for the followers of Lord Krishna celebrated in the monsoon month of Shravan. After Holi and Janmashthami, it is the biggest and most popular religious occasion of the Vaishnavas. Known for its spectacular display of decorated swings, song and dance, Jhulan is a joyful festival celebrating the Radha-Krishna amour coupled with the romantic fervor of the rainy season in India. It is celebrated in the month of Shraavana, which takes place in July and August on the Gregorian calendar. The 2017 date is August 3-7.[1]

Origin of the Jhulan Yatra[2] Festival[edit]

sketch of Radha Krishna

Jhulan Yatra has been inspired from the swing pastimes of Krishna and his consort Radha during their romance in the idyllic pastoral groves of Vrindavan, where the divine lovers along with their cowherd friends and gopis took part in joyful swinging in the cool monsoon season. These pastimes are mentioned in literature such as the Bhagavata Purana, the Harivamsa, and the Gita Govinda, and the metaphor of the swing of the monsoon or 'Sawan Ke Jhuley' have since been used by poets and songwriters to describe the romantic feeling that permeates the rainy season in the Indian subcontinent.

The popular Krishna literature Hari Bhakti Vilasa (Performance of Devotion to Hari or Krishna) mentions Jhulan Yatra as part of the various festivals dedicated to Krishna: "…the devotees serve the Lord during the summer by placing Him on the boat, taking Him out on a procession, applying sandalwood on His body, fanning Him with chamara, decorating Him with jeweled necklaces, offering Him palatable foodstuffs, and bringing Him out to swing Him in the pleasant moonlight."

The Jhulan Yatra of Mathura, Vrindavan and Mayapur[edit]

Of all the sacred places in India, Mathura, Vrindavan, and Mayapur are most famous for Jhulan Yatra celebrations.During the thirteen days of Jhulan-from the third day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Shravan (July–August) until the full moon night of the month, called Shravan Purnima, which usually coincides with the Raksha Bandhan festival-thousands of Krishna devotees throng from around the world to the holy cities of Mathura and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh, and Mayapur in West Bengal, India. The idols of Radha and Krishna are taken out from the altar and placed on heavily decked swings, which are sometimes made of gold and silver. Vrindavan's Shri Rup-Sanatan Goudiya Math, Banke Bihari Temple and Radha-Ramana Temple, Mathura's Dwarkadhish temple, and Mayapur's ISKCON temple are some of the major places where this festival is celebrated in their greatest grandeur.

Jhulan Yatra celebrations at ISKCON[edit]

Many Hindu organizations, especially the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), observe Jhulan for five days. At Mayapur, the world headquarters of the ISKCON, idols of Radha and Krishna are decorated and placed on an ornate swing in the temple courtyard for devotees to swing their favorite deities using a flowery rope while offering flower petals amid bhajans and kirtans. They dance and sing the popular hymns 'Hare Krishna Mahamantra,' 'Jaya Radhe, Jaya Krishna,' 'Jaya Vrindavan,' 'Jaya Radhe, Jaya Jaya Madhava' and other devotional songs. A special 'aarti' ritual is performed after the idols are placed on the swing, as devotees bring their 'bhog' or food offerings for the divine couple.

Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON, prescribed the following rituals to honor Krishna on Jhulan Yatra: During these five days the deities' clothes should be changed daily, a nice prasad (food offering) be distribution, and sankirtan (group singing) should be performed. A throne may be constructed on which the deities (Radha and Krishna) can be placed, and swayed gently with accompanying music.