While taking darshan of the Lord, one can’t help but notice similar smaller figured deities placed in front of or close by to the presiding deity. This is common in most temples, and these smaller deities are call the utsava-murtis or festival deities. Sometimes people refer to them as chotta (small or little) deities. There is a special purpose to why utsava deities are kept, despite already having their larger counterparts.
Generally, the utsava deities are easier to handle in terms of lifting them, moving them, etc. This makes celebrating festivals like jhulana-yatra (swing festival), nauka-vihara (boat festival), jala-krida-yatra (water pastimes), pallaki (palanquin procession) chandan-yatra (sandalwood paste festival), abhisheka(auspicious bathingceremony on festivals and everyday), the daily sodasa upacaras (sixteen offerings that range from clove water to clothes and ornaments), and many more, possible for the devotees. Thus they’re able to please the Lord in a variety of ways. Also, certain upacaras (items or rituals) that the priest wishes to conduct for the larger deities can be conducted with ease for the utsava deities. Thus these deities receive the worship on behalf of the main presiding deities. Its is said that the presiding deities take pleasure in sringara (dressing and decoration) while the utsava deities take pleasure in bathing and other upacaras.
These upacaras are like abhisekha (bathing of deity), jagrana-seva (waking of deity), sayana-seva (deity resting), offering of foodstuffs, etc. Nevertheless, their smaller stature in no way signifies lesser importance than the presiding deities. In fact, both are equal in terms spiritual potency and reciprocation.
Synonym of Transcendental Pleasure
At a town called Govardhan near Vrindavan, there is a beautiful lake called Kusuma Sarovara, which means “lake of flowers.” This is because, it was at Kusuma Sarovara that Srimati Radharani and other gopis picked flowers before going to Radha Kunda to meet with Krishna. It is at this same place that Lord Sri Krishna performed a significant pastime by which he is called Vana-bihari. The name ‘vana-bihari’ means “he who enjoys pastimes in the forest groves, namely in Vrindavan.”
Once, Lord Krishna met with Srimati Radharani in private and sat about to beautify his beloved by combing and braiding her hair. He used an exquisite golden comb and as she sat with herback facing him, Radharani looked on using a mirror but rather than looking at her hair she is looking at Krishna. Krishna simultaneously looks back at Radharani’s eyes in the mirror instead of paying attention to braiding.
The utsava deity at our Govardhan Eco Village has seemingly no lesser glories. They were fashioned in Vrindavan by a brahmacari from ISKCON Chowpatty, Mumbai, based on specific sastric injunctions. He was particular with the length of the deities’ arms, their height, their expression andgestures. The deities stand at 18 inches tall and Ban-Behari’s lotus face is notably decorated with embossed tilaka. The deities were fashioned, moulded and shipped all within a short span of time, almost within days. For anyone who have had purchased or ordered deities from Jaipur or Vrindavan, one will know that such a case is extremely rare if not unheard of – to procure custom made deities within days!
But such is the enthusiasm of devotees and such is the Lord’s reciprocation. At Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Behari Temple, both sets of deities have their own array of dresses and jewellery. The wardrobe is extensive but not exhaustive. Daily darshans are made available online for all and especially for one to remember the unique pastimes associated with their Lordships.