Navratri Special (Day -5): Sancholi Devi, Kokilavan

2022.04.06 (Vrindavan Today News Service): April 2 to 10, 2022 India is celebrating the festival of Chaitra Navaratri – the nine nights dedicated to Devi. Like everything else, Navratri in Braj is also subsumed in Krishna Bhakti, whether through the worship and contemplation of Radha and her ashtasakhis or through the nine manifestations of Devi associated with Krishna lilas in various forms and names. Everyday during ‘Navratri’ our articles will take readers on the trail of Braj’s own shakti peethas – the nine energy centers dedicated to celebrating the feminine. On the fifth day of Navratri, we pay our obeisance to Shri Sancholi Devi of Koilavan.

Sancholi stands for ‘sanchi ali’ or sacchi saheli, a true friend… and that is Krishna. There’s an endearing story behind Kokilavan’s Sancholi temple. In Dwapar Yuga when Krishna took his cows for grazing in the surrounding hills of Nandgaon, Radha would come there to meet him every day. One day when Radha and her sakhis were just about to leave Barsana, king Vrishbhanu asked her where she was going. Caught off guard by the unexpected question, she incautiously replied that she was going to the Devi temple in the woods. Curious to know more about this new temple, King Vrishbhanu sent his servants along with the girls.

Knowing that she had blundered, Radha fervently prayed to Krishna to help her out of this predicament like a true friend (‘sanchi ali) would. Ever willing to rescue his beloved from all troubles, Krishna wrapped himself up in a chunari (stole) and went and sat in the bushes. On reaching the forest when Radha saw Shyamsundar in the form of Devi, out of sheer joy, she exclaimed, ‘meri sanchi ali’ (my true friend). Since that day the form of Krishna as Devi is being worshipped in Sancholi as the one and only true friend.

Sancholi Devi temple

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