One of the most popular events in the holy town of Vrindavan, India – where Lord Krishna appeared 5,000 years ago – is the celebration of Jhulan Yatra, the Radha-Krishna swing festival. In Vrindavan among the local villagers and inhabitants, this festival lasts for 13 days.
In Sri Vrindavan for five days, in many of the 5000 temples there, the small Utsav-vigraha functional Deities (Vijay-Utsav bera) are taken from the altar and placed on an elaborately decorated swing in the temple room. After receiving the traditional arati worship, the Deities are pushed on Their swing. Each person offers flower petals and personal prayers and then pushes the swing several times as the other members chant Hare Krishna, Jaya Radhe Jaya Krishna Jaya Vrindavan, or Jaya Radhe, Jaya Jaya Madhava dayite in kirtan. The atmosphere of this festival is especially sweet as everyone has the chance to intimately serve Radha and Krishna.
The same festival is observed in other parts of India too in this sacred month of Shravana. In our ISKCON temples, we observe for five days in accordance with Srila Prabhupada’s instructions. This is a wonderful ceremonial function of Lord Krishna’s pastimes that reflects practically how we are to render service to the Lord for His pleasure.
These festivals are not in any way mere rituals, as they all have practical service functionality to invoke loving servitude of the devotees for the Lord. Lord Sri Krishna is the Supreme enjoyer and doesn’t have to work hard like us in this world. Everything He does is pleasurable, and He organizes many situations in which He can incorporate us, His separated parts and parcels into His loving service which is our natural condition in the spiritual realm.
When Sri Krishna had his pastimes in rural Vrindavan with His cowherd friends together they lovingly tended the cows, and wandered in the pastures playing, frolicking, and feasting. Throughout the various seasons, they all continuously enjoyed being part of Sri Krishna’s pastimes and rendering loving service to Him as best they could.
It is a most pleasing and satisfying festival, with the swings often highly decorated with forest creepers, Jasmine (Malati) that has newly blossomed in the season, and streamers of garlands. Sometimes they use a fine spray of rose water and direct it toward the Divine couple of Radha and Krishna on Their swing.
On the last day of the Jhulan, on the Purnima (full moon) this comes Lord Balaram’s appearance day festival. Let us participate in this festival and offer our loving devotional service to Sri Krishna and Srimati Radharani.