Govardhan Puja, a Hindu festival celebrated with fervour, holds profound cultural and religious significance. Observed primarily in India, this festival, also known as Annakut or Annakoot, marks the day Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan Hill to protect his devotees from Indra's wrath. Commemorated on the fourth day of Diwali, it typically falls in October or November. During Govardhan Puja, devotees construct elaborate 'Annakuts' (mountains of food) symbolising gratitude and devotion. The festival emphasises communal harmony, gratitude for nature, and the triumph of righteousness.
Families participate in rituals, create vibrant rangoli, and offer various food items to Lord Krishna. As a time-honoured tradition, Govardhan Puja fosters a sense of community, showcasing the cultural richness and spiritual depth embedded in the celebration.So, let us dive deeper in knowing more about the auspicious festival, its long-rooted history, and its significance.
Date and Time of Govardhan Puja
As per the Hindu Panchang, Govardhan Puja is celebrated a day after Diwali. It falls in the Hindu month of Kartik on the first day of the moon in the Shukla Paksha.
As per legends, the Puja was started by Lord Krishna himself after he lifted the Govardhan Parbat to save the Brij residents from Lord Indra's fury. That is why the idol of Krishna is worshipped alongside the Govardhan Mountain Hill.
The day is marked with the offering of food prasad to the Lord – that is why it is also called Annakut. As per the Bhagavata Purana, Bal Krishna spent a good part of his childhood days in Braj. Here, he lived with his foster parents and his childhood friends. One of the incidents mentioned in the Purana is about the Lord lifting Mount Govardhan on his little finger. The hill was right in the centre of Braj. As per legends, the cowherds living in the jungles of Braj used to pray to Lord Indra every autumn for good rainfall. On the instructions of Krishna, who was well-respected by elders in the village, the cowherds started praying to Purna Paramatma. This infuriated Lord Indra.
Indra, the God of rain and thunder, was so angry with the changed devotions of the cowherds and the people of Braj that he showered lightning, thunder, fierce storms, and torrential rains in the region. All this was done to humiliate Krishna and to prove to the Brijwasi (residents of Braj) that Indra was the more powerful lord. Krishna, in these circumstances, urged all the people to take shelter under the Govardhan hill, which he lifted with his little finger. He held the hill in this position for a week or so when Indra realised his mistake and accepted defeat. After this, the region's residents could visualize Krishna as a supreme being, not an ordinary man. This is the Govardhan puja history and significance. From that day onwards, the day is celebrated with lots of pomp and gaiety by Hindus, in general, and Krishna devotees, in particular.
This is a crucial day in the life of Hindus as well as Vaishnavas. The offering of food as Annakoota to Lord Krishna by devotees is meant to express their gratitude towards Krishna, who helped the cowherds and the villagers of Braj. When devotees pray to the Govardhan hill at Braj, they thank it for protecting them from the adverse nature. The meal offered to the Lord is known in the local dialect as Chappan bhog (fifty-six different food items). Worshipping the hill signifies that all the resources of nature should be respected and conserved by human beings.
Govardhan Puja is an integral part of Diwali celebrations, especially in the native region of Braj. Here the Govardhan Puja major attractions & celebrations take a different perspective each year.
1. Satvik Food Preparation
Worshippers prepare good food and offer it to Lord Krishna, who is believed to have assumed the mountain form to accept the offerings of the villagers.
2. A Visit to Govardhan Hill
The Govardhan hill is a place of worship for most Hindu pilgrims. In the native region, pilgrims offer food to the hill in reverence of the age-old ritual practised since the time of Krishna. The hill is decorated with flowers and garlands. Not just that, devotees walk along the 11-mile trek on foot, pay their respect in various temples along the stretch, and then finally offer food, prasad, and flowers to the hill.
3. Elaborate Prayers
A member of the cow-herding caste officiates the puja at the hill premises. A pair of a cow and a bull circle around the hill. After that, all the local residents do a parikrama of the hillock.
4. Govardhan Puja At Home
The process for Govardhan Puja at home is simple but elaborate. Devotees must wake up early in the morning and have a bath to prepare for prayers at the auspicious mahurat. They build a Govardhan Hill metaphorically using cow dung during the pious mahurat. Other than the mountain form, it is important to draw cows and calves beside the mountain form. After this, devotees pray to the cow dung mountain in accordance with the given method of puja and do a parikrama of the symbolic hill. The idol of Lord Krishna is bathed in milk and then worshipped with flowers, dhoop, agarbattis, and chanting of hymns. After this, the vegetarian bhog (Chappan bhog) prepared at home is offered to the Lord.
Things to Take Care Of During Govardhan Puja
Special care should be taken while doing the puja on this day. A few of these are:
The puja should never be performed in a closed room as it is supposed to be inauspicious.
While doing the puja, devotees should have a bath and wear fresh and clean clothes. Wearing untidy and unclean clothes while performing the puja is not a good omen.
Devotees also need to ensure that they wear orange- or yellow-coloured clothes. Black clothes should be avoided.
The festivities include worshipping a symbolic hill made out of cow dung, Gau Mata or cows since Krishna was a Gopalak or a part of the cow herding community, and Lord Krishna’s idol.
The puja should be done together and not in isolation. This means that all family members should sit together and conduct the ceremony.
The circling of the cow dung hill, also called Parikrama, should be done barefoot as a mark of respect to Govardhan hill. Those with problems with their legs or feet and aged people are allowed to wear cloth-made shoes for the Parikrama.
The Parikrama should be completed and never left midway. Doing the latter means disrespecting Govardhan hill and Lord Krishna.
Consumption of liquor, drugs, meat, and other non-vegetarian food is a strict no-no on this day.
The Govardhan puja held on 27th October 2019 in the BAPS Atladra Mandir in Gujarat holds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. The record was created as it was the biggest Annakut festival ever held. There were 3,500 vegetarian dishes served during the celebrations.
In some parts of the country, especially Gujarat, this day is also regarded as the regional New Years’ Day.
Govardhan Puja is a celebration of cultural richness and unity, emphasising gratitude and spirituality. Beyond rituals, it conveys a timeless message of righteousness and community harmony. Experience the essence of this festival by booking your flights and exploring with Adotrip. Let the journey unfold, immersing you in the traditions and joy of Govardhan Puja. Start your adventure now!
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Frequently Asked Questions About Govardhan Puja
Ques 1. Why is Govardhan Puja celebrated?
Ans 1. Govardhan Puja or Govardhan Puja is done on the day after Diwali. On this day, as per the Bhagavata Purana, Krishna, in his Bal avatar, had lifted the big Govardhan Hill on his litter fingertips to save Brijwasis from the fury of Lord Indra. Ever since the day has been marked by worshipping the Govardhan hill in Brij and symbolic hills made of cow dung at home by devotees who cannot go to Brij.
Ques 2. When is Govardhan Puja done?
Ans 2. Govardhan Puja is done annually in the Hindu month of Kartik on the first day of the moon in the Shukla Paksha. It usually falls on the day after Diwali. This year, since the day after Diwali is a solar eclipse, Govardhan puja will be done the day after. This falls on 2 November 2024.
Ques 3. What is the importance of Govardhan Puja?
Ans 3. Govardhan Puja is a very important festival for Hindus. For the Vaishnavi sect, this day is even more important. Worshipping the Govardhan hill is a way of paying respect to the hill for being the saviour when the entire village of Brij was in trouble. Alongside the Govardhan Hill, Lord Krishna is also worshipped, accepting him as the ultimate protector of his devotees.
Ques4. Are there specific rituals associated with the Govardhan Puja celebration, apart from creating the 'Annakut'? Ans 4: Yes, besides the creation of the 'Annakut,' devotees engage in various rituals during Govardhan Puja. One common practice involves circumambulating the Govardhan Hill or a representation of it, signifying reverence for Lord Krishna's miraculous act. Additionally, people offer prayers, light lamps, and perform aarti to seek blessings for prosperity and protection. The distribution of the 'prasadam' (blessed food) from the Annakut further enhances the communal aspect of the celebration.
Ques 5. Do people celebrate Govardhan Puja differently in different parts of India?
A5: Yes, Govardhan Puja is celebrated differently among different parts of India. While the main idea of Govardhan Puja stays the same, the way people celebrate it can vary in different regions. Some places focus more on making the 'Annakut' and going around it, while others might have special customs or ways of preparing the food. Even with these differences, the main meaning of Govardhan Puja, celebrating thankfulness and doing what is right, remains the same all over the country.