FESTIVALS : Kanwar Yatra in Mathura: The Mysterious Relationship of Bhakt and Bhagwan!

Radhey Radhey!

On August 5, 2013, Kaanwariashad sores in their swelled up feet and yet, there was undaunted zeal and unfading enthusiasm evident in their voices as they shouted ‘Bam Bam Bhole!’ and ‘Bol Bam!’ and concluded their two-week Kanwar yatra by performing 'Jalaabhishek' of the Great Lord Shiva.

It is said that Kaanwar Yatra is undertaken in the month of Shravan or Saavan as it was during this period, Ganga Maiya descended from Swarg onto Shiv Jata, as a boon to Raja Bhagirath,
Kaanwar yatra is the ultimate test of mettle for devotees of Lord Shiva. The annual pilgrimage commences from Gangotri – the origin of River Ganges, Haridwar, or Sultanganj (the only place where Ganga turns north in its entire course) and concludes at the 12 Jyotirlingas throughout India or at the temples of Swayam-bhu Shiv Lingas(ones that have appeared themselves).
During the yatra, devotees have to carry a kanwar – a long pole with two pots of Ganga Jal balanced at the opposite ends – just as Parshuram did and follow a number of rules and regulations.
Rules of Kanwar Yatra

Kaanwarias cannot indulge in smoking, drinking, any of the tabooed bad habits or eat non-vegetarian food.

They cannot touch the kanwar without bathing or with unwashed hands after going to toilet.

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They cannot go an inch ahead of their kanwar on the way and thus, have to be really careful while resting about where to keep their kanwar.

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They cannot keep the kanwar on the other shoulder by passing it above their heads.

In fact, they have to make sure that no one passes under the kanwar throughout the way – be it a child or a dog.

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During the Yatra, all the devotees call each other ‘Bhola’ or ‘Bholi’ (a devotee of Bholenath).

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On the last two days, when the devotees are weary and have sore feet, they have to take up ‘daak kanwar’ – where one cannot stop, even for a minute, for 48 hours straight without reaching the destination.

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Some kaanwariyasvow to take ‘Khadi Kanwar’ too, where they cannot keep the kanwar anywhere until they reach their destination and perform the ‘jalaabhishek’ of Shiva Linga with the Ganga Jal they have brought with so much effort.
Krishna and Shiva ka ‘anootha’ sambandh!
At Mathura, every aspect of life is about Krishna. Shiva Himself could not stop himself from being a part of the enchanting Maharaasa of Sri Krishna and Radhika Rani at Vrindavan, and took the form of a young charming Gopi to be able to do so. It is also said that Shiva asked Krishna and Radha to grant Him a chance to always reside at their feet. To this day, one can still see the temple of Gopeshwar Mahadev there.

At the same time, it is said that Krishna was an ardent devote of Shiva too. It is said that he was initiated by Upmanyu with the mantra ‘Om Namah Shivay!’ and stood on one toe for 15 months. When Shiva and Parvati appeared, they showered him with boons.
Shiva granted him eight boons:

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1.May He always be religious-minded;

2May He attain immortal fame;

3.May He always reside near Shiva;

4.May He always have an unwavering faith and devotion to Shiva;

5.May He have ten valiant sons;

6.May He always attain victory over His enemies;

7. May all His enemies be destroyed; and

8.May He be dear to all the Yogis.

Goddess Parvati too granted Krishna the boon that He will always serve His parents and Brahmins.
It is also said that Samba, the son of Krishna who brought about the destruction of His Yadu dynasty, was the avatar of Siva Himself. Krishna had prayed for Siva as the son to make sure that his indomitable Yaduvansh would not create an imbalance in the human world by being immortal.
At Kankhal, Haridwar, one hears that Shiva-Parvati once performed the divine Krishna-Radha Leela here for all the gods and deities, where Lord Shiva took the form of Radha and Parvati took the form of Krishna.

The relationship of Krishna and Shiva is unique. Both the Gods worship each other and at the same time are ‘Bhakt’ and ‘Bhagwan’ to each other.

Krishna Bhakts at Mathura show no restraint when it comes to express their devotion to Shiva.

Come and be a part of Shiv ka Jaykara at Mathura at temples of Shri Alkheswar Mahadev, Rangeshwar Mahadev, and Bhuteshwar Mahadev in Mathura and the temple of Gopeshwar Mahadev in Vrindavan.