Diwali - Festival of lights was celebrated across the country with traditional fervour and gaiety on Sunday. Well, another important festival that is being celebrated today is Govardhan Puja (Annakut Puja). Govardhan Puja has its origins during the times of Sri Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Govardhan puja, which marks the fourth day of Diwali celebrations, is a part of family traditions in several parts of India. This puja is believed to bless the households with prosperity and abundance. Most times, Govardhan puja coincides with the Gujarati New Year.
Govardhan Puja: History and significance
Lord Krishna spent most of his childhood in Braj, a place devotees associate with many of Krishna’s divine and heroic exploits with his childhood friends. Rearing cows and making dairy products was the main occupation of the people in the village. Govardhan was a small hill located in the village. This tiny hill supported the village in several ways by supplying firewood, cow feeds and many others that the households required. In fact, the term Govardhan translates as (Go – Cow and Vardhan – Nourishment) nourishment to the cows.
According to the Bhagavata Purana, forest-dwelling cowherds living close to Govardhan used to celebrate the autumn season by paying respect to Indra, the God of rain and storm. Krishna did not approve of this. The people of Gokul agreed with Shri Krishna's advice.
However, Indra was angered upon seeing the villagers' devotion diverted away from him and toward Krishna. Indra decided to initiate thunderstorms and heavy rains in the city in reflex of his egoistic anger. To protect the people from the storms, Shri Krishna lifted the Govardhan mount on his little finger and provided shelter to all the people and cattle of the city. After 7–8 days of continuous storms, seeing the people of Gokul being unaffected, Indra accepted defeat and stopped the storms. This day is therefore celebrated as a festival that paid respect to Mount Govardhan by preparing a 'giriyajna' - a "great offering of foods and delicacies to the mountain" Krishna then assumed the form of a mountain himself and accepted the villagers' offerings.
Govardhan has since become a major pilgrimage site in Braj for devotees of Krishna. On the day of Annakut, devotees circumambulate the hill and offer food to the mountain—one of the oldest rituals in Braj. The circumambulation consists of an eleven-mile trek dotted along the way with several shrines, before which devotees place flowers and other offerings.
Govardhan Puja: Vidhi & Aarti
Govardhan Puja is done a day after Diwali. Chappan bhog (56 kinds of meals) is cooked and offered to Lord Krishna. The miniature Govardhan mountain is beautifully decorated with flowers. Unboiled milk, homemade sweets, bathe, etc. are offered to the hill. Lakshmi Katha is recited and devotees apply roli and akshat (uncooked rice) to the hill. Several devotees go to the Govardhan hill and worship it.
Govardhan Puja: Timing
StepS To Perform Govardhan Puja
On the auspicious day of Govardhan Puja, Annakoot is the most popular event organized by people. People offer ‘Chappan Bhog’ to Lord Krishna. During the puja, the deities are given a holy bath and decorated gorgeously. Lastly, the foods offered to Sri Krishna is distributed among the devotees who share them as Prasad during the feast that follows.