Also known as Annakut, Govardhan Puja involves the worship of the Govardhan Hill, a day after Diwali. The Govardhan Hill is located in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, India, and is one of the holy places in the Hindu religion. Often worshipped as a natural manifestation of Lord Krishna, Govardhan is eight km long, a part of the Braj Bhoomi. It is believed that on this day, Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan Hill at his fingertips to save the people of Vrindavan from nature’s fury. Annarkut, or the mountain of food, is symbolic of the Govardhan Hill and created with a plethora of vegetarian food cooked by devotees. The essence of the Govardhan Puja celebrations is to indulge in a religious ritual that shows the faith of devotees in Lord Krishna and his godly powers.
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 Brajwasis (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 realized 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.
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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.
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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.
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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 metamorphically 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.
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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.
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 26th October 2022.
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.