Radha Govinda Jhulan Yatra Mahaotsava takes place in the month of Sravana from Ekadashi till Baralama Purnima. Radha Govinda are deities of abideya or the process of devotional service. The festival is a special opportunity for the devotees to render some personal service to Them. Service is the medium to express our love for the Lord. This festival is similar to Ratha Yatra where the Deities come down from the altar to receive service from everyone.
In Vrindavan, every temple celebrates this pastime during the last few days of Sravana. Krishnadas Kaviraja Goswami describes this pastime in his Govinda Lilamrita. The Gopis had arranged for this swing festival in the mid-day near Lalita Kunda, which is close to Radha Kunda. Two bakul trees lean over to form a canopy on the top. The gopis decorate the swing, which hung from the branches of the bakul tree. They decorate the lotus-shaped swing with beautiful cushions on the side and back against the jeweled backrest, flowers, creepers, emeralds, cintamani stones illuminating the atmosphere. Different gopis take turns to push the swing and some pull it with ropes. Govindaji enjoys this pastime very much because Srimati Radharani becomes fearful when they swing it very fast and sometimes embraces Him overcoming Her shyness. The gopis derive immense happiness giving pleasure to the divine couple. They fan Their Lordships with camara fan, offer arati, betel nuts. The swift breeze carries away all the fatigue of the hot and humid rainy day.
Unlike Vrindavan, the festival here lasts for seven days, where the Deities of Madan Mohanji, Laksmi, and Vishwadhatri are swung by the devotees on a decorated wooden swing from the tenth day of the light fortnight to the first day of the dark moon.
Jhulan Yatra, Puri, Odisha
In a letter to Jayapataka Swami on August 1, 1969, Srila Prabhupada wrote: "Regarding the Jhulana-yatra ceremony, during these five days the Deities’ clothing should be changed every day, and there should be nice prasadam distribution and sankirtana as far as possible. If you are able to do it, a nice throne may be constructed on which the Deities can be placed. This throne may be swung gently during kirtana. That will be very good, and surely the Deities will enjoy the function."
Following this instruction, in different ISKCON centers around the world, Radha Krishna deities are brought off of the altar and placed on a beautifully decorated swing. They are offered arati and various paraphernalia. Devotees receive the opportunity to decorate the Deities, Jhulan (swing), sing, dance, offer bhoga, and pull the swing! Some temples also observe a pot-breaking festival on the evening of Balaram Purnima. Watch it here.[ jhulan-yatra ] [ swing-festival ]