Rath Yatra

Every year in the month of March – April, the Rath Yatra also known as ‘Brahmotsava’ is organised at the Rangji Temple in Vrindavan. The ten day long festival is marked by pulling of the Rath (chariot) by the devotees from the temple to adjoining gardens. The chariot carries the idols of deities – Lord Vishnu along with Garuda, Lord Hanuman, Lord Surya (Sun God), Lord Chandra (Moon God), an elephant and a lion. Devotees from around the country come to be a part of this grand sacred procession.

Janmashtami

The eighth day of the Hindu months of Bhadrapada is celebrated as Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna. As Bal Gopal was born at midnight, the actual festivities commence at this hour. Temples in Braj, and Krishna temples throughout the country are packed with devotees. On the eve of Janmashtami, Lord Krishna’s devotees forego sleep and sing bhajans. The idol of Bal Gopal decorated with flowers and jewellery is placed on a cradle, while the sound of conch shells and temple bells mix with the chant of the holy mantras. The Lord is then served chhappan bhog (56 delicacies) complete with his favourite sweets prepared from milk.

Radha Ashtami

 Radha Ashtami is marked 15 days after Janmashtami on Ashtami of Shukla Paksha in Bhadrapada month. The festival is celebrated with great fervour similar to Janmashtami. A lot of traditional programs are being organized, especially in Barsana and Vrindavan. Bhoga is offered to Radhaji once the temple doors are closed. Bhajan and kirtans are organized throughout the day. Once the doors open again, people can be seen chanting Radhaji’s name. At the end, an Aarti is performed.

Braj ki Holi

Holi, the festival of colours is celebrated with great enthusiasm across the nation; however, the Braj ki Holi is unique owing to its distinctive way of celebration. Whether its Lathmar Holi at Barsana & Nandgaon, Phoolon wali Holi & Widow’s Holi at Vrindavan, or Holi celebrations at Banke Bihari Temple, the land smears one and all in its colours of love, joy and devotion.

Jhulan Utsav

The Jhulan Utsav or the ‘festival of swings’ is another sought after festival in Braj. The Idols of Radha and Lord Krishna are placed on beautifully decorated swings, which are gently swayed by temple priests. The festival is celebrated with much fervour at Banke Bihari Temple & Dwarkadhish Temple in Mathura.

Akshaya Tritiya

Celebrated on the 3rd day of the bright lunar fortnight in the month of Vaishakha (April-May), it is one the significant festivals of Mathura. On this day, the idol of Lord Krishna in the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple is daubed with sandal paste. During the occasion, the special Charan (lotus feet) Darshan of Lord Banke Bihari in Vrindavan is open to devotees in the morning. In the evening, the devotees can also catch a sight of ‘Chandan Baga Darshan’ of Lord Banke Bihari, where idol of Lord Banke Bihari is completely covered in sandal paste with no clothes (Baga) and this is the only day in the entire year when this sacred Darshan is offered. Kakri (variety of cucumber) is offered to the deity as bhog. The Sandal paste is used owing to the belief that it extends relief to the God giving the cooling effect from the extreme heat of summer. The festival is marked in the same manner in other temples of Vrindavan namely Radha Damodar Temple, Radha Shyamasundar Temple and several others.

Basant Panchami

The occasion of Basant Panchami announces the arrival of spring and Holi in Brajbhoomi. Basant Panchami has its own cultural and religious importance within the Braj Mandal as it marks the beginning of the Phag Mahotsava in the Braj region. With the arrival of Basant Panchami Holi festival starts in the Braj which continues till next 40 days. Basant Panchami is duly celebrated within the temples of Braj. It is a good time to explore the temples of Brajbhoomi.

Guru Purnima

 Guru Purnima, the full moon day when spiritual teachers are worshipped, is known as “Mudiya Puno” in Braj. “Mudiya Puno” is Sanatan Goswami’s tirobhav tithi (disappearance day). On this day, huge crowd of devotees flock to Govardhan to perform Govardhan Parikrama. A large number of devotees visit the Shri Madan Mohan Temple in Vrindavan.

Hariyali Teej

Hariyali Teej, a festival celebrated in Vrindavan is this occasion when the devotees can have a long and continuous darshan of Banke Bihari Ji Maharaj. The festival is marked in many temples across Vrindavan. Radha and Krishna are swung together, as the devotees remember the eternal love of the Divine Couple. 

Nandotsava

This festival falls a day after Janamashtami. It marks the birth celebration performed by Nanda Maharaja after Lord Krishna was born. Devotees throng to Gokul to take darshan of Lord Krishna’s swing at Nand Bhavan. Tableau are also presented during Janmotsav. After that the idols of Lord Krishna and Lord Balram are brought to begin the celebrations. Devotees sing songs like “Nand ke anand bhayo, Jay Kanhaiya Lal ki” and others. Many dance for hours during the celebration.

Yamuna Chhat

On the Banks of River Yamuna the charm of the pastimes of Krishna with Radharani still hold onto. The birthday (advent) of this beloved consort of Krishna is celebrated as the Yamuna chhat. On this day Yamuna Maharani is worshiped by their devotees. In Brajmandal this eve is marked grandiosely. In the morning, a grand abhisheka (bathing ceremony) of Yamuna maharani is performed with milk. In the evening, grand processions from different religious institutes are carried throughout the city. Women carry the urn over their heads and reach the Yamuna banks singing the hymns in the glories of Yamuna and Lord Krishna.Matki Phod LeelaThis festivals falls in Bhadrapada month of Hindu calender and is celebrated in Barsana region of Brajbhoomi. The festival is observed on the 13th day during the waxing phase of moon in Bhadrapad month. The main festival involves breaking of colour-filled matkis (pots).

Govardhan Puja

Celebrated the next day of Diwali Govardhan Puja or Annakut is a significant festival of Braj region. On this day people pay obeisance to Lord Krishna by circumambulating the Govardhan Parvat.For devotees, this day recalls the incident in the Bhagavata Puran when Lord Krishna lifted Govardhan hill on his finger to protect the villagers of Vrindavan from torrential rains, caused due to the wrath of Devraj Indra. Yam Dwitiya: This is an integral part of the Diwali celebrations in Brajbhoomi. On the eve of Yam Dwitiya, devotees from around the world throng the banks of River Yamuna in Mathura to take a holy dip. The Yam Yamuna temple at Vishram Ghat, also knowns as brother and sister temple, dedicated to Yamuna and Yamraj, receives a huge footfall after the customary bath in the Yamuna on this day. The legends say that pleased by the hospitality of his sister Yamuna, Yamraj blessed her saying if brothers and sisters will take a dip together in River Yamuna on this auspicious day at Vishram Ghat then they will not be tortured by the messengers of Yamraj (The Lord of Death) and will attain salvation.

Akshaya Navami

Akshaya Navami is an auspicious day for Hindus. It is believed to be the day when Lord Krishna left Vrindavan with Akrura. During this occasion, the 54km (32 miles) Parikrama of both Mathura and Vrindavana is done. Akshaya Navami, also known as Amala Naumi, is the ninth day during waxing phase of the moon in Kartik Month as per Hindu calendar. The popular belief is that the Treta Yuga started on this day. Some people refer to this day as the beginning of Satyuga.