Govardhan Puja: Why and How Is It Done?•
Posted on October 26 2021
Govardhan Puja is a part of the five-day Diwali/Deepavali celebrations. The celebration is carried out on the fourth day, which is essentially the very next day after the festival of lights is celebrated. The festival is also referred to as Annakoot or Annakut that represents a mountain of food. The festival occurs on the first lunar day of the bright fortnight in the Hindu month of Kartik. Like Diwali/Deepavali, this puja is celebrated in different ways across the country.
The puja is of great importance to Vaishnavites and they pray with utmost fervor to Lord Krishna on this day to safeguard them from the hardships of life. Hindus also prepare and serve the lord a wide range of vegetarian food arranged like a mountain on this day. They also bathe their cattle and worship them as God is very fond of them.
Story Behind Govardhan Puja
According to Hindu scriptures, Lord Krishna defeated Lord Indra, the king of the Gods on this day with the help of the Govardhan Hill. The inhabitants of Vrindavan used to celebrate a festival to honour Lord Indra, the god of rains for a good harvest every year. The child Krishna felt that one should feel connected to the divine power through devotion rather than through appeasing Him. He convinced the people to worship Govardhan Hill as it was the fertile soil of the hill that helped them have a successful harvest.
This action angered Indra who reciprocated by means of thunderstorms and torrential rains. However, Krishna was unperturbed and calmly lifted the Govardhan Hill by the little finger of his right hand and sheltered everyone with their livestock under the hill for a whole week until Lord Indra accepted defeat on the eighth day.
How to Do the Puja
The Govardhan Puja is not a very elaborate affair. The puja commences by setting up a model of the hill prepared from cow dung or garden soil. Some Hindus prefer keeping a photo of the hill on a raised platform.
Decorate the hill with embellishments like you would adorn Lord Krishna. For instance, you can place a crown, a flute, tilak, and flowers on the hill. Alternatively, you can do the decoration according to your personal choice and keep a picture of the lord by the side.
Offer two sugarcane sticks to the Govardhan hill along with a bowl of curd, a glass of unboiled milk, ladoos, pedas, and batasha. Light the lamp in front of the hill and place some grains of rice and some roli in a plate. You can also opt to place a clay lamp on the Govardhan peak with several offerings like honey, curd, sugar crystals, milk, and some holy water from the river Ganges.
Wave some camphor in front of Govardhan. If you have kept a picture of Lord Krishna, make sure you wave the camphor before this photo as well. Say your prayers as you do this ritual. You can say any mantra in honour of Lord Krishna or recite hymns from the Krishna Chalisa.
Request an elderly person to read out the Lakshmi Katha or the story of the goddess loudly. After the puja, remember to give him/her a silver coin as dakshina. You can also give him/her some sweets from the offerings as prasad. The others present at the puja must listen to the story with full fervor.
All those present for the puja must do a circumambulation of the hill. This is followed by a circumambulation around the hill and a prostration of Govardhan.
Finally, the person performing the puja must distribute the prasad to all those who are present. Remember to also give some prasad along with a few coins to the needy.
Devotees believe that Lord Krishna did not have even a morsel of food for the seven days he held the mountain high to protect the villagers. Therefore, they prepare a lavish feast known as Chappan Bhog comprising various delicacies, savouries, and sweets to appease God. This vegetarian feast is typically prepared using rice, wheat, and gram flour. A little bit of each of these items is also at times kept as prasad and distributed to others after the puja. The Govardhan Puja is said to be incomplete without this bhog offering.
Written by Deepthi K