In news–The festival of Byanjana Dwadashi ended in Odisha’s temple town of Puri recently.
About Byanjana Dwadashi-
- It is celebrated by adherents of Vaishnavism, a sect within Hinduism.
- The festival celebrates a variety of food (Byanjana in Odia) on the 12th day (Dwadashi) of the Sukla Paksha or waxing phase of the moon in the month of Margashira (mid-December to mid-January).
- Vaishnavites, through this festival, commemorate an episode of the Mahabharata where Yashoda observes that her son Krishna is pale and weak.
- She realizes that this is because of lack of proper nutrition at a time when Krishna has devoted all his energy in fighting demons.
- In order to fulfill his nutritional requirements, she prepares a lot of delicacies and feeds him.
- Krishna is not the only consumer of these delicacies but his friends – the Gopala Balakas or cowherd boys — also eat with him.
- This episode was re-enacted in the Vaishnava mutts of Puri by the medieval seer and mystic, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, after he reached Puri around 500 years ago.
- This tradition of celebrating varieties of traditional food and sharing them has been going on since then and is prevalent in the Vaishnava mutts of not only Puri and other parts of Odisha, but throughout the country.
- The ingredients used for such food include locally available seasonal vegetables, fruits, roots, nuts, grains, pluses and greens. Devotees also offer milk and milk products, molasses, oil and sugar.
About Chaitanya Mahaprabhu-
- He was a 15th century Vedic spiritual leader, who is considered an avatar of Lord Krishna by his followers.
- He founded Gaudiya Vaishnavism, which is a religious movement that promotes Vaishnavism or worship of Lord Vishnu as the Supreme Soul.
- Gaudiya Vaishnavism teaches the acceptance of Bhakti yoga as a method to realize the ultimate truth.
- He is credited with popularizing the ‘Maha Mantra’ or ‘Hare Krishna Mantra.’
- ‘Siksastakam,’ a 16th century prayer of eight verses, is the only written record of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings.
- The teachings and philosophy of Gaudiya Vaishnavism are based on this Sanskrit text.
Further reading: https://journalsofindia.com/chaitanya-mahaprabhu/