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Festivities at the ‘haveli’

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Food for the Gods The Goswami family from Ahmedabad prepares the ‘chappan bhog’, which is a variety of sweetmeats
Food for the Gods The Goswami family from Ahmedabad prepares the ‘chappan bhog’, which is a variety of sweetmeats

A unique offering of a variety of food preparations, ‘chappan bhog’, was held for the first time in a Gujarati temple in Kerala

Cosmopolitan Kochi is celebrating yet another festival. The 450 Gujarati Vaishnav families that live in and around Kochi are in the throes of spiritual delight. This is because the Sree Navneet Krishna Temple (haveli) in Mattancherry is celebrating its 131st year with week long celebrations.

The highlight of the functions is the ‘chappan bhog’, literally meaning 56 food preparations offered to Lord Krishna. What is special is that it is prepared by the Goswami family, the descendants of Sri Vallabhacharya Goswami. Shri Vrajnath ji Maharaj of the Goswami family has come from Ahmedabad for this special occasion.

Said Acharya Madhusudhan Goswami, “This is the first time that Chappan bhog is being done in Kerala. There are more than 1,000 havelis across the world, (haveli being a home of the Goswami family, where the Krishna deity is consecrated and worshipped), and it is our family that prepares the ‘prasad’ or ‘bhog’.

Significance

What is the significance of 56 offerings? “It is a symbolic thing. Like the lotus has eight petals, surrounded by 16 and then 32, which makes it 56, it is this symbol that makes the count. But as the many ‘gopikas’ who brought different offerings for Krishna, the ‘bhog’ is always more than 56. It can be any number. This time there is a wide variety.”

The ‘bhog’ consists generally of different types of sweetmeats. But even rice, vegetables can be offered, after all if someone brought curdled milk as offering did Krishna not accept that, he says philosophically. And so his family prepares the grand ‘bhog’ with the help of several people from his group of 25.

Traditional singers

And in the group are also singers, the traditional singers who for generations have sung in Brijbhasa, songs for Lord Krishna. Haridas Gandharava, one of them says, “music is in my blood. We sing the songs of Surdas and so many saints. It is called haveli sangeet.”

And so as the entire community gathers from far and wide, as far as Kozhikode, Coimbatore and Kollam to celebrate the occasion, President of Sree Navneet Krishna Mandir, G. P. Goyal says, “It is our good luck that ‘chappan bhog’ ceremony has taken place at the haveli and the revered Goswami family is here.” Almost 2,700 people attended the ceremony.

PRIYADERSHINI S.

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