Govardhna Puja

the Sweets Hill Festival

Govardhan Puja

All the devotees celebrate this beautiful festival by lighting lamps in all the corners of their houses and discussing the pleasing transcendental pastimes of Lord Ram. The next day of Amavasya is celebrated as Govardhan puja, when all the brijvasis, after stopping the worship of Lord Indra in accordance to the instructions of Shyamsundar, worshiped Giri govardhan, who is celebrated as Haridasya varya, the best of the Vaishnavas, who serves the divine couple with its many gushing streams, beautiful waterfalls, fragrant forests full of fruits and flowers and caves suitable for various pastimes. Mother cow is also worshiped on this day, and all the Brijvasis performed the parikrama of the glorious blessed mountain Govardhan. Following in their footsteps the devotees perform parikrama of Giriraj maharaj and offer anakut to the deities.

Govardhana Puja or Annakuta is celebrated in the month of Kartika (October – November) to commemorate the pastime of Lord Sri Krishna lifting the Govardhana Hill to protect the residents of Vrindavana from the wrath of Indra. Annakuta-mahotsava is a festival commemorating the day when the Lord lifted Govardhana hill to assure protection to His devotees. The day after Diwali is called Annakuta, or Govardhana Puja. The Lord assumed a gigantic form and accepted all the offerings made by His devotees.

On this day the inhabitants of Vrindavan (Lord Krishna’s abode on Earth) used to hold a festival to honor King Indra, the demigod responsible for providing the rains essential for a successful harvest. One day, however, sensing that Indra had become overly proud of his position as king of heaven, Lord Krishna convinced the residents of Vrindavan to modify their festival and celebrate Govardhana Hill instead, arguing that it was the fertile soils on the hill that provided the grass upon which the cows and bulls grazed; that the cows and bulls who provided milk and ploughed the lands should be worshiped. This turn of events naturally upset the mighty Indra, who retaliated with terrifying rains and thunderstorms.

Seeing this, Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, calmly lifted Govardhana Hill with the little finger of His left hand and held it up like a giant umbrella, providing a shelter for the people and animals of Vrindavan from the torrential downpours. This pastime is known as Govardhana Lila and is described in the tenth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. As per the instructions of Krishna and following in the footsteps of the residents of Vrindavana, this festival is celebrated every year in the month of Kartika. Devotees prepare varieties of foodstuffs with grain and ghee (like rice, dhal, halva, pakora, puri, etc.) and all kinds of milk preparations (such as sweet rice, rabri, sweet balls, sandesh, rasagulla and laddu). The food is stacked like a small hill and offered to the Lord. Then it is distributed to everyone as prasadam. Hence, this festival is also called Annakuta Festival.

This is the most awaited festival for all the devotees of Sri Radha Krishna. Goverdhan Puja is celebrated in the month of Kartik to commemorate the pastime of Lord Sri Krishna lifting the Goverdhan Hill to protect the residents of Vrindavan from the wrath of Indra. Giridhari means the one who lifted Govardhan Hill and the festival is very dear to all the devotees who have taken the shelter of Sri Giridhari.

Devotees also worship the cows on the day of Govardhana Puja. Krishna is known as Gopala – the protector of cows. There is also a prayer in Vishnu Purana (1.19.65) that states:

namo brahmanya-devaya go-brahmana-hitaya ca.

Here Krishna is described as the well-wisher of the cows and the brahmanas.
The cows are decorated and fed well. Keeping the cows in front, devotees circumambulate the Govardhana Hill.

The devotees make a replica of the Govardhana Hill with egg-less cakes and a variety of cookies prepared in the temple’s own bakery. The Govardhana cake is offered to the Deities of Sri Sri Krishna Balarama and later distributed to all the devotees. The cows are well decorated and offered worship. An arati is performed for Gopala, the protector of the cows. Devotees sing various songs like Yashomati Nandana. The Govardhana pastime is narrated to everyone. A grand arati is performed for Krishna Balarama while the devotees sing Sri Govardhanashtakam – eight verses glorifying the Govardhana Hill. A sumptuous feast is served on the occasion.