500-year-old Mudiya Mela has a Bengal connection

Agra The five-century-old famous ‘Mudiya Mela’, which has a Bengal connection, will reach its zenith on Wednesday night, it being Poornima (full moon night). A sea of devotees has already started a 21-kilometre ‘parikrama’ (circumambulation) around Goverdhan hillock in Mathura after having a dip in Mansi Ganga and offering prayers in Daanghati temple.

To note, on this day 464 years ago, Sanatan Goswami, a disciple of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu from West Bengal, breathed his last and his followers, with shaved heads, moved with ‘mridang’ (a percussion instrument like dhol) and sang Bengali devotional songs to mark the last lap of his life.

The ‘Mudiya Poornima Mela’ is being organized this year after a gap of two years following the pandemic.

Already enjoying its new found status as ‘teerth’ (pilgrimage site) after the declaration made by chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Goverdhan attracts devotees throughout the year but come Mudiya Mela, the inflow is mammoth, even more than that during Janamasthami and Holi in this Braj heartland.

With pleasant rainy weather, there is much enthusiasm about the fair which began on July 8 and will continue till July 15. Many devotees perform the ‘sapt kosi’ parikrama bare foot while others crawl (dandauti parikrama) on the pious land of Goverdhan.

“Lakhs of devotees come for ‘Mudiya Mela’ but none seems to be aware about the origin of the fair. The tourism department or administration should do something to enlighten the devotees about the fair’s Bengal connection,” said Mohan Swaroop Bhatia (88), who was conferred Padam Shri in 2018 for his work on Braj literature.

Mohan Swaroop Bhatia informed that devotees came for ‘parikrama’ of hillock Goverdhan which is believed to have been lifted by Lord Sri Krishna to save the residents of Mathura from rthe anger of Indra – the god of rain – who had decided to teach them a lesson.

Bhatia said, “The Mela dates back to the times of Sanatan Goswami and his brother Roop Goswami who were ministers in the court of Hussain Shah in West Bengal about five centuries ago. Well-versed in Persian and Sanskrit, both brothers came to Vrindavan being inspired by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a great saint also from West Bengal who had come to Vrindavan.”

“Sanatan Goswami was assigned the task of tracing ancient sites in Braj and in the process, got much respect from his disciples. It is said that Lord Krishna in ‘bal swaroop’ (child form) gave ‘darshan’ to ageing Sanatan Goswami and asked him to have rest instead of doing paikrama daily,” said Bhatia.

“When Sanatan Goswami insisted on parikrama, Lord Krishna left his foot print on a ‘shila’ (stone) and gave it the status of Goverdhan hillock. Sanatan Goswami was so revered that his disciples shaved their heads and did ‘parikrama’ when their Guru left for his heavenly abode 464 years ago and since then the tradition continues,” said Bhatia.

“There is much attraction for Braj amongst residents of West Bengal and they ensure to visit temples of Mathura and Vrindavan once in their life time,” said Bhatia.

Many of the widows residing Vrindavan too are from West Bengal.

Elaborate arrangements have been made at Goverdhan for the ‘lakhi mela’ (attracting lakhs of devotees) and for security purpose. Thirty-one watch towers, 105 barriers and 35 temporary police outposts have been set up. To streamline the movement of devotees and vehicles, 45 parking spaces have been created and to avert any mishap, barricading is in place at Mansi Ganga and Radha Kund which attract maximum devotees interested in having a dip before offering prayers.

Superintendent of police (rural), Mathura, Sirish Chand informed that the area for the fair was demarcated in 6 zones having 45 parking spaces, 6 lost and found centres and 76 CCTV cameras, all connected to the control-oom.

The transport department has pressed 1500 additional buses for a week to manage the movement of devotees. Additional coaches have been provided by the Railways and staff deployed to ensure security of passengers. About 70 CCTV cameras are being installed at railway stations, including Mathura Cantt and Goverdhan station.