Govardhan Puja, also known as Annakoot, is a widely celebrated Hindu festival in which devotees worship the Govardhan Mountain and offer a large number of vegetarian foods in the form of Annakoot as gratitude to Krishna. This day commemorates the event in the Bhagavata Purana when Krishna lifted Govardhan Mountain to provide Brijwasi (people of Brij or Braj or Gokul, which is a region in India on both sides of the Yamuna river with its centre at Mathura-Vrindavan in the Uttar Pradesh state of India) shelter from torrential rains initiated by Indra the Lord of thunder and rain. The Govardhan episode represents how God will protect all devotees who take refuge in him.
Every year Govardhan Puja is done on the next day of Deepawali. People also know it as the Annakoot festival. This Puja has great importance in Indian folklife. Govardhan Hill is worshiped on the Pratipada (1st day) of Shukla Paksha (bright fortnight) of Kartik month of the Hindu lunar calendar. Lord Krishna and Govardhan Parvat (Hill/Mountain) are worshiped on this auspicious day.
On this day, the Govardhan God is worshiped by making a figure of Govardhan Parvat with cow dung in the house’s courtyard and revolve around it. After this, the offering of Annakoot is made to Lord Krishna, and Govardhan God then is distributed as Prasad to everyone. Govardhan Parvat is considered God, and worshiping him increases wealth, progeny, and prosperity.
The tradition of Govardhan Puja, which has been going on since Dwapara Yuga, continues today. Krishna lifted the Govardhan mountain on a small finger for seven days to save the Brijwasi from the wrath of Indra. On the seventh day, the Lord laid down Govardhan Hill and asked them to celebrate every year Govardhan Puja and Annakoot festival. According to religious beliefs, 56 or 108 types of dishes are offered to Lord Krishna on this holy day in the form of Annakoot.
The service of cows on this day has special significance. In our scriptures, the cow is said to be the form of Goddess Lakshmi. Just as Goddess Lakshmi provides happiness and prosperity similarly, Gau Mata also provides us with a wealth of health with her milk.
Lord Vishwakarma is also worshiped on this day. Vishwakarma Dev is considered the architect and craftsman born from the churning of the sea. He is called the father of mechanical science and architectural art. On this day, factory laborers, masons, artisans, craftsmen, furniture makers, people working on machines clean the machines, tools, etc., worship them and worship Lord Vishwakarma with devotion and joy.
Govardhan Parvat is an important pilgrimage place in India. Govardhan Parvat is located in the city of Mathura of Utter Pradesh. Govardhan Mountain is considered sacred like Lord Krishna. Each year Hindus make the pilgrimage to the holy Govardhan Hill from different places in India and other parts of the world. They do Govardhan circumambulation and offer their respect to Devi Radha and Lord Krishna. One of the main festivals celebrated in Hinduism is Govardhan Puja that commemorates Govardhan Hill’s lifting (Giriraj Parvat) to protect the people of Brij from the rain caused by the Lord of thunder and rain Indra.
In Mythological scriptures, it said that Govardhan Mountain was at one time the largest Mountain in the world. It is said that it was so big that it could cover the sun. Lord Krishna had saved the people of Brij from the wrath of Indra by raising this Mountain on his little finger in Dwapara Yuga. Govardhan Parvat is also known as Giriraj Parvat.
There is a religious belief about this Mountain that it is receding by a mole every day. There is also an exciting story behind the loss of a mole of Govardhan Parvat. It is not just recognition, but experts have also told that 5 thousand years ago, the Govardhan Mountain used to be 30 thousand meters high, and now this Mountain has remained as 30 meters high.
Sage Pulastya’s curse is the reason for decreasing of the Mountain every day. According to the legend, once the Sage Pulastya passed near Giriraj Mountain, he liked its beauty so much that he was mesmerized. Rishi Pulastya requested Dronanchal Mountain that I live in Kashi, give your son Govardhan to me. I will install it in Kashi and stay and worship there.
Dronanchal was unhappy due to his son’s love, but Govardhan said, “O Mahatma, I will go with you, but I have a condition.” The condition is that wherever you put me first, I will be established right there. Sage Pulastya accepted Govardhan’s condition. Then Govardhan said to the Sage that I am two yojanas (a unit equal to about 5 miles) high and five yojanas wide; how will you take me to Kashi. Then the Sage said that I would carry you through my power of tenacity on my palm.
On the way, Brij/ Gokul came, and then Govardhan Parvat remembered that Lord Krishna is here in his childhood. Thinking that Govardhan Parvat started to increase his weight in the hands of the Sage, the Sage put the Mountain down for rest and meditation. Rishi Pulastya had forgotten that he did not have to place the Govardhan Mountain anywhere.
Later after meditation, the Sage tried hard to lift the Mountain, but the Mountain did not move. Due to this, the Sage Pulastya became very angry, and he cursed that you did not allow my desire to be fulfilled, so now, you will continue to be eroded by a mole every day. It is believed that the Giriraj Mountains have been receding every day since that time and will disappear by the end of the Kali Yuga.
According to Hindu scriptures Lord Krishna started Govardhan Puja to break the ego of Indra, the thunder and rain deity.
Shri Krishna saw that all Brijwasi were worshiping Indra. When he saw his mother also worshiping Indra, he questioned why people worship Indra? Lord Krishna was told that Indra is rain God, and he rains due to which food grains are produced, and our cows get fodder. On this, Lord Krishna told all the townspeople that we do not benefit by worshiping Indra.
It is his karma and responsibility to rain, and he is only doing his karma. All the deities do the work according to the laws made by Supreme God, and according to that legislation, they give us fruits as our karma is; they give us fruits based on the same deeds, do nothing more or less on their behalf. Therefore, we should not worship them. Then Krishna said that instead of Indra, everyone should worship the Govardhan Mountain because our cows graze there, and due to this, Govardhan Parvat is venerable. All the Brijwasi obeyed him and started worshiping Govardhan Parvat in place of Indra.
Devraj Indra considered it his insult, due to which Indra became enraged and ordered the clouds to destroy Gokul (Brij). After this, torrential rains like a holocaust started in Gokul, and the residents of Gokul got scared. There is a matter of concern here that Indra, the king of the gods, is acting with selfishness; if he is worshiped, he is happy if not worshiped, and then he is trying to kill the devotees who were worshiping him for so many years. The Brij dwellers started cursing Lord Krishna, saying that this has happened due to obeying him.
Then Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan Mountain on his little finger and called all the Brijwasi to take refuge under it along with their cows and calves. Seeing this, Indra became angry; it eventually rained more. For the crushing the ego of Indra, then Shri Krishna told Sudarshan Chakra that you should stay on top of the Mountain and control the rain speed and told Sheshnag that you make a ridge and stop the water from coming towards the Mountain.
Indra kept on torrential rain for seven consecutive days, and then he realized that there could be no ordinary person who could compete with him. Therefore, he reached out to Brahma Ji and narrated all the accounts. Brahma Ji told Indra that the Krishna you are talking about is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Hearing this from the mouth of Brahma, Indra was extremely ashamed and said to Shri Krishna that Lord, I could not recognize you, so due to my ego, I committed this mistake. You are kind and merciful too, so kindly forgive my mistake. After this, Devraj Indra worshiped Shri Krishna.
Since this mythological event, Govardhan Puja started. People worship Govardhan Mountain and Lord Krishna on this day. According to religious beliefs, 56 or 108 types of dishes (called Annakoot) are offered to Lord Krishna on this holy day. Pleased with this, Shri Krishna blessed the Gokul residents that he pledged to protect them forever. Cows and oxen are bathed and are fed by a mixture of jaggery and rice.
• On Govardhan Puja, Govardhan Parvat is made on a clean floor of a courtyard in a man’s form in a horizontal position with cow dung and decorated with leaves, flowers, etc.
• After preparing the image of Govardhan, a statue of Lord Shri Krishna is placed in the middle of it.
• On the navel of the Govardhan figure, an earthen lamp is placed. Along with lighting this lamp, milk, curd, Ganga water, etc., are offered during worship and later distributed as Prasad.
• After Puja, the most essential part of Govardhan Puja, the seven circumambulations of Govardhan Ji are done.
• During circumambulation, one person carries water in a pot in hand, and others walk with barley in their hands. The person with water walks by pouring water on the earth, and the others complete circumambulation (Parikrama) doing the symbolic action of sowing offer barley (Jau or Kheel).
• After this, Lord Krishna and Govardhan Ji are offered Annakoot as bhog. Pleased with this, Shri Krishna blesses the devotees to protect them forever.
• In Govardhan Puja, all the Gods who help grow food on the earth, like Indra, Agni, tree, and water god, are also worshiped along with Lord Krishna. Indra is worshiped in Govardhan Puja because Indra after his ego got crushed, apologized to Shri Krishna and Shri Krishna as a blessing allowed the worship of Indra in Govardhan Puja.
• Govardhan Puja is also known as the Annakoot festival. On this day, there is a tradition in homes and temples to offer Puri, Kadhi, rice, mixed seasonal vegetables dish and sweet made from milk (Collectively called as Annakoot) to Lord Krishna and Govardhan Ji. By offering Annakoot, people show their gratitude towards the Lord. Devotees eat and share it as Prasad. The food stores always remain full of the person who eats or donates to others, the Prasad of Annakoot on this day.
• The blessing of Lord Krishna prevails on you forever. And one will be blessed with Good fortune and great luck.
• Food stores of the person always remain full, as a result one never remains hungry, by performing this Puja.
• The Puja helps one face life struggles and achieve success upon them by their courage and strength.
• By performing the Puja, one can attain salvation.
• This Puja removes the poverty of the Devotee and gives wealth and comfort.
• Devotees are blessed with a happy and prosperous family.
• This Puja also removes Vastu Doshas.
• Positive effects in horoscope increases, and its negative effects decrease by this Puja.
On Govardhan Puja day, thousands of devotees come to circumambulate Giriraj. It is believed that on the day of Govardhan Puja revolving around Govardhan Parvat located in Mathura, salvation is attained. It is also believed that the wishes with which Govardhan Parvat is circled that wishes are fulfilled. That is why devotees revolve it to fulfill their desires.
People of the Hindu religion also believe that people who cannot travel to the Four Dhams should also do a circumambulation of Govardhan Parvat, which is said to be equivalent to Char Dham Yatra (Pilgrimage). After completing Parikrama of Govardhan Parvat is performed.
Devotees from far and wide come to circumambulate Giriraj Ji for centuries. The circumambulation of Govardhan Parvat is 21 km. To complete the Parikrama, it takes about two days. Major places enroute are Aynour, Govind Kund, Tothari Ka Lotha, Jatipura Radhakund, Kusum Sarovar, Mansi Ganga, Danaghati, etc.
Some people revolve around here Dandauti. Dandauti Parikrama is done in such a way that by spreading the hands forward, lying on the ground, and as far as the hands extend, they draw a line and then lie down in ahead of the line. Circumambulation done this way takes one week to two weeks to complete.
• To start Govardhan Parikrama take a bath in the Mansi Ganga if possible. If Govardhan Parikrama is done during Govardhan Puja at home or temple and not at Govardhan Mountain in Mathura, then wash your face and hands well before starting Parikrama.
• Before starting the Parikrama, bow to Govardhan Ji and keep in mind from which place you started the Parikrama and end Parikrama at the same place.
• If you revolve around Govardhan Ji, then do it completely. Never make the mistake of leaving the Parikrama incomplete in the middle. If you have to leave the Parikrama incomplete for any particular reason, and then should leave the Parikrama only after praying for forgiveness to Lord Govardhan and Krishna Ji.
• While worshiping Govardhan Parvat, do a Parikrama, remembering the name of God. Do not pay attention to the worldly things because only the circumambulation done with the pure mind is fruitful.
• If you are married, then you should revolve with your spouse. With this, both of you get the blessings of the Lord Govardhan.
• While orbiting Govardhan, it is necessary to take care of purity, so do not forget to consume any intoxicating substance.
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