Govardhan Puja, also known as Annakut Puja, is a Hindu festival celebrated on the fourth day of Diwali, which is the Hindu festival of lights.
Govardhan Puja is particularly significant in the traditions of the Bhakti movement, and it holds special importance for followers of Lord Krishna, including those in the Vaishnava communities all over the world.
Why we celebrate Goverdhan Puja
Goverdhan Puja Utsav is a significant festival in Sanatana Dharma, celebrated by devotees of the Lord Sri Krishna all over the world, especially Vrindavan, Goverdhan and Mathura.
This is also dear to all those people who appreciate path of devotion to Lord Krishna.
This festival is observed on the day after Diwali, the festival of lights.
The celebration of Goverdhan Puja festival has its roots in the pastimes of Lord Krishna as described in the ancient scriptures, especially the Srimad Bhagavatam.
Krishna Stops Indra’s Sacrifice
According to the scriptures, once upon a time, the residents of Vrindavan were preparing for a grand sacrifice to worship Lord Indra, the demigod responsible for providing rainfall.
However, young Krishna advised the residents to worship Govardhan Hill instead, as it was the source of all their sustenance.
Lord Krishna explained that the true benefactor of the people of Vrindavan was Govardhan Hill, which provided abundant grass for the cows and various herbs for the well-being of the residents.
Worship of Goverdhan Hill
Following Krishna's advice, the residents decided to perform a special puja (worship) for Govardhan Hill.
The residents offered various items like food, flowers, and prayers to the hill, expressing their gratitude for the abundant gifts of nature.
The offering was so large, that it became another mountain in front of Goverdhan!
This is called Annakut!
In response to this devotion, Lord Krishna manifested Himself as Govardhan Hill and He ate all the offering and then returned that back as His prasadam.
After Sri Krishna was pleased with the offering, the prasadam was distributed to each and every one present there, be he be a rich man or poor, be human or animal everyone took prasadam to their hearts content.
This is important teaching for devotees, that in our festivals we must make arrangements to feed people with Krishna Prasadam, ordinary food should not be served but Krishna prasadam should be given.
There is another pastime connected to this, Subduing King Indra.
Subduing King Indra.
When Indra came to know that Krishna has stopped worship done by Vraja vasis to Indra, he became angry.
Out of his anger he forgot that Krishna is Supreme God. This is another teaching for us.
In anger we forget Krishna, and our relationship with him, so we must avoid anger.
It is also mentioned in Bhagavad Gita, 2nd Chapter that anger takes away intelligence, when we become angry our ability to use intelligence is restricted a lot.
Coming back to the pastime.
In his anger, Indra sent for very powerful clouds to destroy entire Vrindavana.
Lord Krishna then lifted the Govardhan Hill with His little finger, providing shelter to the entire community from the torrential rains sent by angry Indra.
By commemorating Goverdhan Puja festivity, devotees remember the pastime of Lord Krishna and cultivate a spirit of devotion, gratitude, and environmental consciousness.
It serves as a reminder that true prosperity lies in recognizing the divine source of all nourishment and expressing gratitude for the bounties provided by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna.
Let’s move to the celebrations part! How do we celebrate goverdhan puja festival.
How to celebrate Goverdhan Puja
Goverdhan Puja Utsav is a celebration of gratitude, humility, and dependence on the divine.
Devotees build replicas of Govardhan Hill using various food items, such as rice, sweets, and fruits, and then offer them to the deity of Govardhan in a mood of devotion. This act symbolizes the understanding that all resources come from the Supreme, and it fosters a sense of appreciation for the environment and the gifts of nature.
Celebrating Govardhan Puja in the tradition of Hindu religion involves various devotional activities that focus on expressing gratitude to Govardhan Hill and Lord Krishna for their benevolence. Here's a general guide on how devotees often celebrate Govardhan Puja:
1. Fasting and Preparations
Devotees usually observe a half-day-long fast until the afternoon, when offering of delicious food is done to Goverdhan Ji, and after which fast is broken with the prasadam feast just offered to Goverdhan Ji 😇.
Devotees spend the day in heightened devotional activities, including decorating temple, arranging offering, cooking for Govardhan, chanting the Hare Krishna mantra and reading scriptural passages related to the pastime of Govardhan Puja.
2. Deity Worship
Temples and home altars are adorned with beautiful decorations, flowers, and lights.
A small replica of Govardhan Hill is created using various food items like rice, fruits, and sweets.
The deity of Lord Krishna is worshipped with special offerings, prayers, and bhajans (devotional songs).
3. Katha (Narration)
After worshipping Goverdhan Ji devotees gather to hear narrations of the pastime of Govardhan Puja from scriptures like the Srimad Bhagavatam.
The katha helps deepen the understanding of the significance of this pastime and reinforces the spirit of devotion.
4. Govardhan Parikrama
Devotees may perform a symbolic parikrama (circumambulation) around a representation of Govardhan Hill. You can also do Kirtan that time!
This can be done indoors with the Govardhan replica or outdoors if there's a natural hillock or mound available.
5. Annakut Offering
The highlight of Govardhan Puja is the Annakut ceremony.
Devotees prepare a vast array of vegetarian food items, representing the various gifts of nature.
These items are then arranged in the form of a mountain or hill, symbolizing Govardhan.
The food is offered to the deity of Lord Krishna, expressing gratitude for His protection and provision.
6. Feast and Distribution
After the Annakut offering, the prepared food is distributed as prasadam (sanctified food) to all attendees. Devotees relish this blessed prasadam, considering it a direct mercy of the Lord.
7. Community Celebration
Govardhan Puja is often a community celebration in Lord Krishna & Vishnu temples, with devotees coming together to participate in the various activities.
The atmosphere is filled with joy, devotion, and a sense of unity in expressing gratitude to Lord Krishna.
Throughout the festival celebration, on the next day of Diwali, the mood is one of recognizing the Supreme Lord's benevolence, cultivating humility, and understanding the interconnectedness of all living beings with the divine.
It's a time for devotees to strengthen their devotion, offer their hearts to the Lord, and foster a deep sense of gratitude for the countless blessings bestowed upon them.
What after Goverdhan Puja ?
Our year is full of festivals, the very next day after Goverdhan puja devotees celebrate Bhai Dooj.
We have a dedicated guide with detailed steps how devotees can celebrate Bhai dooj.
Don’t forget to share your experience of Goverdhan puja in the comments section.