The Holi Celebrations in Vrindavan

Another beautiful story by our friends of Jungles in Paris which we can share, again shot through the lens of the talented Belgian travel photographer Pascal Mannaerts, who continues to bring us beautiful stories from India. This instance taking us to the city of Vrindavan, which is located 10 kilometer away from where an important Hindu deity, Krishna was born. It’s one of the major celebrations of Holi, if not the major one, especially in the Banke Bihari temple. Celebrants drench each other with colored water and throw fistfuls of gulal – brightly tinted powders, traditionally made by dyeing arrowroot starch with spices, leaves, and flowers. Although these days, it is more often chemically pigmented cornstarch. At the Banke Bihari temple, which is among the most sacred places to worship Krishna, eruptions of red, yellow, and magenta waft down from the roof, landing on the sea of ecstatic faces in the courtyard. They say Holi is a time to come together, to repair broken relationships, and to forgive oneself of past errors. In a caste-bound society, it is also a time when inhibitions are lost, and everyone stands on more equal footing. Jungles in Paris continues to inspire us.

Vrindavan has one of its oldest surviving temples is the Govinda Dev temple, built in 1590, with the town founded earlier in the same century. It is believed that the essence of Vrindavan was lost over time until the 16th century, when it was rediscovered by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

In the year 1515, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited Vrindavana, with purpose of locating the lost holy places associated with Lord Sri Krishna’s transcendent pastimes. Chaitanya wandered through the different sacred forests of Vrindavana in a spiritual trance of divine love. It was believed that by His divine spiritual power, He was able locate all the important places of Krishna’s pastimes in and around Vrindavana.

The city is considered to be a holy place by all traditions of Hinduism. The major tradition followed in the area is Vaisnavism, and it is a center of learning with many Vrindavan Ashrams operating. It is a center of Krishna worship and the area includes places like Govardhana and Gokul that are associated with Krishna. Many millions of bhaktas or devotees of Radha Krishna visit these places of pilgrimage every year and participate in a number of festivals that relate to the scenes from Krishna’s life on Earth.

Photography by Pascal Mannaerts.

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