1 . Govardhana Puja
Govardhana Puja, Go Puja and Annakuta are all connected with the story of Lord Krishna lifting Govardhana Hill to protect the inhabitants of Vrindavan. On this day, a hill of sweets is made from food prepared by the devotees, which is then offered to the Deities, and subsequently distributed to everyone. This is known as the annakuta ceremony.Cows are honoured as part of the festivities as well.
2 . The story behind Govardhan Puja
The day after Diwali is referred to as Annakuta, or Govardhan Puja. On this day the inhabitants of Vrindavan (Lord Krishna abode on Earth) would hold a harvest festival in honor of King Indra, the demigod who provided the rains essential for the harvest.One day, however, Lord Krishna wanted to teach Indra a lesson. He convinced the inhabitants of Vrindavan to honor Govardhan Hill instead, whose fertile soil provided the grass upon which the cows and bulls grazed, and to honor the cows and bulls who provided milk and ploughed the lands. Outraged, Indra retaliated with terrifying thunderstorms. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, calmly lifted Govardhan Hill with the little finger of his left hand. For seven days and seven nights the Lord held up Govardhan Hill, providing a giant umbrella to shelter the inhabitants of Vrindavan from the torrential rain. Realizing the futility of his actions, King Indra bowed down before the Lord with folded hands and offered prayers of supplication. In this way, Lord Krishna demonstrated that He is Deva Deva, the lord of the demigods, and that any purpose for which demigods might be worshiped could easily be served by worshiping Him, the cause of all causes.Several thousand years later, on this same day, Srila Madhavendra Puri established a temple for the self manifest Gopala Deity on top of Govardhan Hill.To celebrate this festival, devotees build a replica of Govardhan Hill made of various opulent foods, worship Lord Krishna as the lifter of Govardhan Hill, worship the hill as His incarnation, and worship the cows and bulls who are dear to the Lord.At the end of the festival, the hill of prasada (sanctified food) is distributed to the public. All Vaishnava temples in India observe this ceremony, and hundreds of people are given prasada according to the capacity of each temple.
3 . History and Legend of Govardhan Pooja
Govardhan Puja is also known as the Annakut puja (or Padwa, Bali Pratipada, Gujarati New Year) means the pile of grain (symbolizing Govardhan mountain) which is celebrated to remember the victory of Lord Krishna over the arrogant Indra. It is considered that at this day Lord Krishna had defeated the Lord of heaven, known as Indra. Lord Krishna told the people of the Vrindavan dham to worship the Nature because only the Nature is nurturing you. He taught people that worship the Govardhan Mountain (which brings rain to the earth) and stop worshiping Indra.Such type of message of the Lord Krishna to the people was generally to teach the people to take care of the nature.
4 . Why Govardhan Pooja is Celebrated Significance
A great mountain of the food, called the Govardhan Mountain, is adorned by the people at this occasion. It is considered that the Govardhan Mountain was lifted by the Lord Krishna in order to save the life of people from the arrogant Indra. Lord Indra was throwing thunder and a lot of rain over the earth and lord Krishna had saved the millions of life by lifting the Govardhan mountain on his little finger. From then, the Annakut pooja is performed with the immense passion and eagerness by the people in various states of the India such as Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Mathura, Vrindavan and Bihar.
5 . How Govardhan Pooja is Celebrated Celebration
In some Indian states, Govardhan Puja is celebrated by making the hillocks of cow dung which represents the Mount Govardhan. Then people decorate the hillocks by flowers and worship them. Devotees make rounds around the hillocks and pray to Lord Govardhan to save their life as always. At some places it is celebrated as a part of the Diwali such as the Padva or Bali Pratipada to commemorate the King Bali. And at some places it is enjoyed as a Gujarati New Year because the Vikram Samvat begins at this day.
6 . Origin of Govardhan
In the western coast of India, in the island of Salmali, lived Dronachala, the king of the mountains. Once a sage by the name of Pulastya Muni, came to him to take his son Giriraja with him to Kashi (Varanasi). After offering some initial resistance, Giriraja, somehow agreed to go with him only on condition that he should not put him down on the earth in between. If he does so, he would stay there forever.When they were flying over the Vraja bhumi, Giriraja increased his weight to the extent that Pulastya had no option but to put him down. Pulastya understood the mischief of Giriraja. He became furious and cursed him that he would decrease by a grain everyday. But then repenting on the curse he gave to Giriraja, he assured him that he would be blessed in the Dvapara Yuga and everybody would start worshipping him since then.This happened in the Satya yuga. Brahmaji wished to create the Dvapara Yuga but because of the portentous phenomenon of Ravana, he had to create the Treta Yuga. In this yuga, Hanumanaji on the instructions of Lord Rama, came to take Giriraja for the cause of constructing a pull on the ocean.
7 . About Govardhan Puja In brief
The day after Deepawali is celebrated as Govadhan Puja when Mount Govardhan, near Mathura, is worshipped. Pious people keep awake the whole night and cook fifty six (or 108) different types of food for the bhog (the offering of food) to Krishna. This ceremony is called ankut which means a mountain of food. Various types of food cereals, pulses, fruit, vegetables, chutneys, pickles, and salads are offered to the Deity and then distributed as prasada to devotees.This festival is in commemoration of the lifting of Mount Govardhan by Krishna. According to a legend, before Krishna was born, Indra, the god of Rain, was the chief deity of Vraj. Then Krishna instigated the people to stop worshipping Indra. Indra wanted to show his power over Krishna and brought about a cloud burst which flooded the countryside for many days. People were afraid that the downpor was a result of their neglect of Indra. But Krishna assured them that no harm would befall them. He lifted Mount Govardhan with his little finger and sheltered men and beasts from the rain. This gave him the epithet Govardhandhari. After this, Indra accepted the supremacy of Krishna.
8 . Worshiping Govardhana Hill
While engaged with the brahmaeas who were too much involved in the performance of Vedic sacrifices, Kanea and Balarama also saw that the cowherd men were preparing a similar sacrifice in order to pacify Indra, the King of heaven, who is responsible for supplying water. As stated in the Caitanya caritamata, a devotee of Kanea has strong and firm faith in the understanding that if he is simply engaged in Kanea consciousness and Kanea transcendental loving service, then he is freed from all other obligations. A pure devotee of Lord Kanea does not have to perform any of the ritualistic functions enjoined in the Vedas nor is he required to worship any demigods. Being a devotee of Lord Kanea, one is understood to have performed all kinds of Vedic rituals and all kinds of worship to the demigods. One does not develop devotional service for Kanea by performing the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies or worshiping the demigods, but it should be understood that one who is engaged fully in the service of the Lord has already fulfilled all Vedic injunctions.In order to stop all such activities by His devotees, Kanea wanted to firmly establish exclusive devotional service during His presence in Vandavana. Because He is the omniscient Personality of Godhead, Kanea knew that the cowherd men were preparing for the Indra sacrifice, but as a matter of etiquette He began to inquire with great honor and submission from elder personalities like Maharaja Nanda.
9 . Vrindavan parikrama
Vrindavan Parikrama is a spiritual walk undertaken by devotees around Vrindavan town in Uttar Pradesh. It has no particular start or end place. As long as you end at the same place you start, the purpose is served. One possible path is to start from the famous ISKCON temple, covers a distance of 10 km (6.2 mi)in about three hours. It is generally done on Ekadasi (eleventh lunar day of the waxing and waning of Moon). The route followed is from ISKCON temple, walk close to the Krishna Balarama Temple, the Krishna Balarama tree, Gautam Rishi Ashrama (located on the left while on the right is Varaha Ghata), the Kaliya Ghata, Madana Mohana Temple with red sandstone tower, small wooden bridge, to Imli Tala, the Imli Tala tree, Sringara Vata (on the right), the Kesi Ghat (one of the famous Monuments in Vrindavan), the Tekari Rani temple, the Jagannatha temple and the small temple of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and in the final stretch cross the Mathura Vrindavan road. After crossing this road, after another 1 km walking, reach the starting point of the Parikrama. During the Parikrama, one chants the mantras (Jap or Hymns ) within, uses body power (Tap) to accomplish the Parikrama and keeps a fast (not eat anything) (Vrata) till the Parikrama is completed.
10 . Vraja Mandala parikrama
Since 1986, the Vraja Mandala Parikrama held during October November is in vogue. It follows the same route taken by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu during his visit to Vrindavan. Devotees achieve full experience of twelve forests of Vraja, over a period of one month and visit holy tirthas (pilgrimage centres) of Vraja (also spelt Braj). Vraja Mandala comprises twelve forests, known as vans, and twenty four groves, known as upavans. The twelve forests are Madhuvan, Talavan, Kumudvan, Bahulavan, Kamavan, Khadiravan, Vrindavan, Bhadravan, Bhandiravan, Belvan, Lohavan, and Mahavan. The twenty four groves are Gokul, Govardhan, Barsana, Nandagram, Sanket, Paramadra, Aring, Sessai, Mat, Uchagram, Kelvan, Sri Kund, Gandharvavan, Parsoli, Bilchhu, Bacchavan, Adibadri, Karahla, Ajnokh, Pisaya, Kokilavan, Dadhigram, Kotvan, and Raval all of which are stated to share in Lord Krishna absolute nature.