In an elaborate ceremony at the Palace in Tehri, oil of black sesame seeds (kaale til ka tel) is extracted by married women of the royal family, a ritual which has been going on for hundreds of years. They use traditional table-like stones to crush the seeds. This oil is then sent to Badrinath before the portals reopens and is used for bathing Lord Vishnu idol at Badrinath and to light the akhand jyoti. The pot which contains this oil is conventionally named as ‘Gadu Ghadi’.
The empty Gadu ghadi is brought from Dimmer village to Tehri King’s place by the priests on Basant Panchami. It is then placed at worship place (Dev Sthan) of king followed by the ceremony of deciding the portal opening date after consulting the punchangs. At the same time the date for extracting the black sesame seeds oil is announced which is normally 16 days before portal reopening ceremony. This Gadu ghadi containing the oil is taken from Tehri to Badrinath in the Gadu Ghadi Yatra.
It is given a grand, traditional send-off from Narendranagar Palace of the Tehri Maharaj reaching Rishikesh in a day. The Gadu Ghadi Yatra leaves Rishikesh fifteen days before the reopening of the portals of the Badrinath shrine. The Gadu Ghadi Yatra reaches Badrinath a day before the portals are reopened. The anointing of the idol with sesame oil is an important part of the opening rituals. The yatra from Narendranagar to Badrinath is greeted by devotees and pilgrims on the way and joined by many.
The relationship between the Tehri Raja’s Palace and the Badrinath shrine is age-old. The date of the opening of the shrine is decided at a ceremony held at the palace. The Tehri Raja is known as the Bolanda Badri or the Living Badri. The temple’s head priest or Rawal is installed at a grand ceremony held at the palace, the king himself placing the turban of authority on his head.
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