Polluted lake forces panda to take bath on handpump
2023.02.17 (Vrindavan Today News): Monu Panda, the priest who walks on fire at the Falen village on Holi is being forced to take his ritual bath on a hand pump instead of Prahlad Kund. Traditionally, the panda takes bath in the Prahlad Kund while performing month long penance before Holi, the day when he walks on fire. The villagers claim that filth is spread across the kund, and the water is not fit to take bath. Although the panda fair has been an attraction during Holi and people from far and wide comes to witness the event, the kund has not been cleaned by the authorities.
The Panda fair, which is celebrated every year, commemorates the story of Bhakt Prahlad and his aunt, Holika. One month before Holi, Panda, who comes out of the burning fire, has to circumambulate the village along with the villagers, worships Prahlad ji in the temple and then sit for meditation. After one month of intense penance, Panda bathes in the holy Prahlad Kund and crosses the blazing fire.
On Thursday also, following the ancient tradition, Monu Panda sat on chanting to get out of the burning fire, but this time Panda is distressed. It is because the Kund has turned into a filthy cesspool in the present time, making it impossible to carry out the sacred ritual. Despite numerous complaints made to the authorities, the Kund remains in a pitiable state.
Last year, when ‘Vrindavan Today’ spoke to Monu Panda, he shared the challenges and requirements of keeping the tradition alive. For 40 days, Monu lives in the Prahlad temple of Prahlad ji, without consuming any food grain and surviving only on fruits and milk. During this time, he undergoes intense penance and meditation, strengthening his body and mind for the final task of the Holi festival.
As part of the sacred ritual, Monu bathes in the holy Prahlada Kund and performs Puja before walking through the fire. The Holika pyre, with a diameter of 35-40 Ft and a height of 15 Ft, seems to be an impossible task to cross. However, Monu believes that he is blessed by Lord Narsimha after taking a bath in the holy Kund, who gives him the courage to cross the flames unhurt. Villagers believe that the priest who walks through the fire gets energy from Bhakt Prahlad, which keeps them from getting hurt.
Last year also, the villagers were concerned about the condition of the pond. At that time, work had been started on the renovation of the Prahlad Kund. Due to this, all the water from the holy Kund had been drained. The villagers had dug up a small portion of the kund and filled it with some water, so that the Panda could take a bath every day in it, as a part of the tradition.
This year the issue is not about the empty Kund, but the filth accumulated in the water of the Kund. The dirty water hurts the sentiments of the priests and villagers from the village Falen. The Mela Committee has demanded that the district authorities get the Kund cleaned and filled with water as soon as possible. The officials of the Manda Mela Committee accuse the administration of being indifferent to the world-famous Panda Mela. Despite several complaints, no official has even tried to visit the fair site.
To avoid any untoward incident, the Panda Mela Committee has sent a letter to the District Magistrate demanding that the Kund be cleaned and filled with water soon. “If the administration continues to be indifferent, the villagers will be left with no alternative but to dig a well in the Kund itself and make Panda bathe here to complete the ritual”, said a member of the committee.
Deputy District Magistrate Chhata Gaurav Tripathi has assured that the matter has come to his notice and that an investigation will be conducted soon. The residents of Prahlad Nagri village Palan are hoping that the authorities will take prompt action to ensure that the ancient Prahlada Kund is cleaned and filled with water so that the Panda fair can be celebrated as per the ancient tradition.