Devotees beat the heat by offering soothing sandalwood paste to Their Lordships
Devotees at ISKCON Juhu celebrated Chandan yatra from 24 April to 14 May 2012. Handan yatra is a festival where the Lord is smeared with sandalwood paste to cool His transcendental form. The festival is celebrated for 21 days during summer time of the year.
On the first day of Chandan yatra, all the Deities on the temple altar were fully decorated with fragrant chandan (sandalwood) and offered special flower dresses adoringly prepared by the devotees. This is the only day in the year when all the Deities are offered flower outfit and not Their usual cloth dresses.
As is done traditionally at all ISKCON temples throughout the Chandan yatra festival, the utsava-murtis were offered sandalwood paste throughout the entire festival. Several devotees and congregation members lovingly toiled for ten days to grind two kilograms of pure sandalwood paste in Srila Prabhupada Quarters which was thereafter offered to the Deities during the entire festival.
Chandan yatra festival begins on the most auspicious day of Akshaya trithiya and is also known as the yugarambha. Akshaya Trithiya is also the day when Lord Badrinath starts to receive worship from earthly beings after being worshipped for six months by the Demigods.
The Chandan yatra festival has its beginning a few hundred years back, when the Deity of Sri Gopal, suffering from intense heat in Vrindavan appeared in a dream to His dear devotee Srila Madhvendra Puri and requested him to apply chandan over His form.
To smear the form of the Lord with sandalwood is an act of devotion since sandalwood is the best ointment and it is very pleasing to the Lord who is understood to experience the scorching summer heat.