Govardhan Puja or Go Puja in 2023 will fall a day after Diwali. The celebration is also known as Annakut Puja, and is associated with Lord Krishna. On this day, we prepare food made of cereals and offer it to the Lord.
Govardhan Puja is celebrated in India, and abroad, and is one of the dearest festivals related to the Supreme Lord Krishna. At ISKCON Dwarka, this is a special day when devotees are served the holy bhog after the puja.
What is Meant by Govardhan?
Govardhan is located in Braj, about 150 kilometers from Delhi, in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh. Lord Krishna grew up in Braj, and many stories and miracles from His childhood days are associated with this place.
An important occurrence, described in the Bhagavata Purana, involves Lord Krishna lifting the Govardhan hill, situated in the middle of Braj. Every year, devotees make a pilgrimage to Govardhan, and its sacred Govardhan Hill, from different parts of India and the world.
What is the Story of Govardhan Puja?
Govardhan puja’s story revolves around Shri Krishna. Lord Krishna spent his childhood in Braj, and as a child, Krishna had shown great valor by doing heroic deeds. One such incident has led to this famous festival that we celebrate each year at ISKCON Dwarka.
The Bhagavata Purana mentions that cowherds who lived close to Mount Govardhan in Vrindavan used to appease Lord Indra by worshipping him, however, Lord Krishna had a different point of view.
According to Him Mount Govardhan should have been worshipped as it provided livelihood to the villagers. The mountain trees give oxygen, and the grass is food for cattle. Lord Krishna explains in the Srimad Bhagavatam:
“My dear father, our home is not in the cities or towns or villages. Being forest dwellers, we always live in the forest and on the hills.”
So He advised the people to do so, and this irked Lord Indra. So Indra lashed down rain and storm to punish the people. But that plan did not go well as Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan hill on His little finger and provided shelter to the people.
For seven days and seven nights, Lord Indra brought rain and storm, while Shri Krishna continued to protect the people by holding the mountain over their heads on His little finger. Indra finally accepted defeat, and Shri Krishna proved to be the Lord of all Lords.
Significance of Govardhan Puja
Celebrated on the first day of Shukla Paksha in the month of Kartik, Govardhan Puja is a great day of rejoice at ISKCON Dwarka. The significance of this festival has huge importance on the spirituality of devotees.
Govardhan puja is done in the honor of Lord Krishna. Being celebrated a day after Diwali, Govardhan puja’s significance is manifold.
First and foremost, Lord Krishna, the Lord of all Lords protects his devotees from all ills, from rain and storm. Just like He had done a long time ago by lifting a mountain with his little finger.
Cows play an important role too during this festival, and cows get bathed in the morning on this day. They also get garlanded.In the Bhagavad Gita, the Lord instructs his devotees to protect the cows as they give us milk, and that in turn produces ghee, which are used to perform Vedic ceremonies. Ghee and such milk products are also used to make offerings to Giriraja and Lord Giridhari.
How is Govardhan Puja Celebrated?
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Govardhan Puja, like every year, is done with huge pomp and show. An effigy of Govardhan hill is made from cow dung. The puja itself involves loads of fruits, incense sticks, and even water, which are offered to Govardhan.
Because cows have significance on this day, cows are also worshipped. The structure of Govardhan is then offered milk, honey, Ganga water, and once the puja is over, the prasad is distributed among the devotees.
It is believed that Lord Krishna protects those who observe the puja on this auspicious day, and is in fact a way for the betterment of children.
Apart from ISKCON Dwarka, and temples across the country, people also celebrate Govardhan puja at home by following the same rules. There are special mantras that are chanted during the Pujas, read on to know all about it.
Date & Timings of Govardhan Puja 2023
Govardhan Puja for the year 2020 will fall on 14 November 2023. At ISKCON Dwarka the celebrations will take place in accordance with the divine timing.
FAQs on Govardhan Puja
Why is Govardhan Puja Celebrated after Diwali?
Govardhan Puja is celebrated every year on the first lunar day of Shukla Paksha in the Hindu Calendar month of Karthik. This year it just so happened that the particular day fell after Diwali. So, technically Govardhan Puja is not celebrated after auspicious festival Diwali.
How did Krishna Lift Govardhan?
Lord Krishna is the Lord of all lords, the Supreme Lord, and He possesses qualities that everyone aspires to have. Krishna has always shown an extraordinary streak since his boyhood, and He has been loved and adored by people through the ages.
It is said that Lord Krishna picked the hill above His head with His little finger, and is hence given the name, Govardhandhari. Krishna being the Supreme Lord took on a beautiful form to protect the people of Gokul. Lord Krishna goes on to say:
“I must therefore protect the cowherd community by My transcendental potency, for I am their shelter, I am their master, and indeed they are My own family. After all, I have taken a vow to protect My devotees.”
Krishna declared to the people of Vrindavana that He Himself is Govardhan Hill, and hence the devotees understood that it is one and the same. Thus, they came to worship the hill as religiously as worshipping Lord Krishna himself.
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What is the Govardhan Puja Mantra?
The Govardhan Puja Mantra is chanted during the course of worship, both in homes and temples. It is as follows:
govardhano jayati śaila-kulādhirājo
yo gopikābhir udito hari-dāsa-varyaḥ
kṛṣṇena śakra-makha-bhaṅga-kṛtārcito yaḥ
saptāham asya kara-padma-tale ’py avātsīt
Śrīla sanātana Gosvāmī’s Śrī Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta (1.7)
All glories to the emperor of all the principal mountains, Śrī Girirāja-Govardhana, who is exalted in all splendor; who the gopīs proclaim to be haridāsa-varya, the best servant of Śrī Hari; whose worship was introduced by Śrī Kṛṣṇa when the Lord stopped the sacrifice for worshiping Indra, and who then received the good fortune of resting continuously on Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s lotus hand for one whole week
On this day, we pray to Giriraj that one day we may be able to serve the divine couple when they sport in the various grooves on his hilltops, which are full with waterfalls and pristine lakes with blooming lotuses, the aroma of which attract numerous honey bees to them, fruit orchards which satisfy the cowherd friends of Shri Krishna and provide nectarian honey dripping from the branches, minerals with which they decorate themselves and beautiful caves for the pranay keli, of Shri Shri Rukmani Dwarkadhish.
saṁsevyamānaṁ harim ātma-vṛndakair
govardhanādriṁ śirasā namāmi
Girirāja Govardhana rested like a bee upon the lotus hand of Acyuta for seven days. He expertly serves Śrī Hari and Śrī Hari’s dear associates by providing them with fruits, roots, and caves. I bow my head and offer praṇāma unto that Govardhana Hill.
What are Some of the Rituals for Govardhan Puja?
Govardhan puja is celebrated by observing quite a few rituals that are a part of the festivity. One of the most important rituals is to create an effigy of the Govardhan Hill with cow dung. The other important thing is Annakut as mentioned before. This is a mountain of food that includes 108 types of dishes that are served as bhoga.
At ISKCON Dwarka, the Annakut is prepared with lots of love and care, while the deities are bathed with milk. Bhoga is of course distributed among the devotees. Devotees jubilantly circumambulate the hill of sweets and worship it as Govardhan Hill itself. A sumptuous feast is served on the occasion.