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Salila Vihar – Water Pastimes

By: for ISKCON News on June 14, 2018

Sri Sri Radha Madhava enjoy various wonderful water pastimes in Mayapur, such as the boating pastimes They enjoy during the Candan-yatra season. Following the Candana-yatra festival another festival of water pastimes, known as Salila Vihar, is celebrated. The Salila Vihar festival is meant for the pleasure of the Divine Couple to keep Them cool during the hot summer season. In the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta,Antya-lila,Chapter 10, texts 41-52, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami describes the water pastimes of Sri Krishna Caitanya:

...When they met the Lord, they began to cry loudly in ecstatic love. Because of the pastimes in the water, there was great jubilation on the shore, with music, singing, chanting and dancing creating a tumultuous sound. Indeed, the chanting and crying of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas mixed and created a tumultuous sound vibration that filled the entire universe. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu entered the water with His devotees and began His pastimes with them in great jubilation.” 

In Sridhama Mayapur, Sri Sri Radha Madhava enjoy the Salila Vihar festival by sitting in the middle of a beautiful lotus shaped pond filled with hundreds of blossoming lotus flowers, each containing sacred tulasileaves. This lotus pond is constructed in the Sri Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir on the platform below Sri Sri Radha Madhava’s altar, and is covered by a fragrant flower canopy.  A fountain sprays cooling lotus-and-tulasi-scented water on the transcendental bodies of the Divine Couple.

When Sri Sri Radha Madhava are comfortably seated in the lotus pond, devotees are given scented flowers and tulasileaves to offer to Their Lordships. The devotees are each individually given a name of Sri Radha, from the Radhika-Ashtottara-sata-nama stotramor Sri Krishna, from the Krishna-Ashtottara-sata-nama stotram, to offer with the flowers and tulasi.  These are the 108 names of Sri Radha and Madhava.  

Once the offering of over 216 names is complete, Their Lordships retire for the night and the devotees line up to receive the maha lotuses from Radha Madhava’s lotus pond.  Generally, the lotuses are distributed by the head pujari of Mayapur, His Grace Jananivas Prabhu, who relieves the devotees from the summer heat by placing the wet lotus flowers on their heads. The devotees are left blissfully drenched.  The festival concludes with the distribution of maha fruit from Radha Madhava’s bhogaoffering.  Handfuls of mangos, bananas, apples, and a variety of other summer fruits are honoured by all present.

Every evening for one month Sri Sri Radha Madhava thus enjoy Their summertime water pastimes, and blissfully engage and enliven Their devotees. Despite the sweltering heat, the Mayapur residences are always enthusiastic to serve and please the Lords of their hearts, even at the cost of their own comfort, because when the Lord is pleased, His devotees are automatically pleased and satisfied within themselves.

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