Govardhan Puja, an important festival in the month of Kartik, observed on the first day of Shukla Paksha Pratipad is celebrated not only in Vrindavan, but across India. It falls on the day after Diwali, which is today, 5 November. Along with worshipping Lord Krishna, Cows, the eternal servants of Lord Krishna are also worshipped on this day, along with Mt Govardhan. Small hillocks of cow dung, halwa or any other edible material are made to replicate Govardhan Hill.
Women usually undertake a fast on this day, while leafy vegetables, gram flour curry and cereals like rice, wheat are offered to the idol of Lord Krishna. In some places, devotees worship Lord VIshwakarma, who is the God of Machines. Tilak is put on machines and automobiles.
In Udaipur, temples are decorated and devotees flock to offer their supplications to Lord Krishna. Nathdwara’s Srinath Temple, Srinathji Mandir at Ghasiyar and the Srinathji ki Haveli at Maheshwari Samaj Nohra. As devotees supplicate the Lord Krishna with fruits, vegetables, cereals, sweets, etc., members of the tribal communities in the region flock to the temple to pick up and take some of the food home.
In Vrindavan, devotees flock to gaushala’s and feed the cows and then return to the temple to offer their supplications to Lord Krishna. The Govardhan Hill is prepared with Halwa and devotees spend days in advance in preparation of sweets, to decorate the Hill.
Tradition says that the residents of Vrindavan used to pray to Lord Indra for rain. Seeing this regular custom, the young Krishna questioned the ritual, saying that it was Lord Indra’s duty to provide for rain to places as he found suitable. Instead, he asked the residents to pray to the Govardhan Hill and cows. As the residents cognizance of his explanation and began to pray to the cows and Govardhan Hill, Lord Indra was infuriated. He ordered the Samvartaka clouds to devastate the entire Vrindavan and inundate it with water.
Krishna got the name not just Govinda as a result of this pastime, but also other names like Giridhari, Govardhanadhari, Girivaradhari. ‘Giri’ means ‘mountain’, ‘dhari’ means ‘one who holds’, ‘vara’ means ‘the best’. So ‘Girivaradhari’ means ‘the one who holds aloft the best of mountains’.Krishna got the name not just Govinda as a result of this pastime, but also other names like Giridhari, Govardhanadhari, Girivaradhari. ‘Giri’ means ‘mountain’, ‘dhari’ means ‘one who holds’, ‘vara’ means ‘the best’. So ‘Girivaradhari’ means ‘the one who holds aloft the best of mountains’.
The Vrajvasis were scared of the wrath of Lord Indra and took shelter with Krishna. Krishna, seeing the fear in his people, lifted the entire Govardhan Hill on his left hand finger and kept it that way for 7 days, protecting all of the residents from the downpour, as they snuggled under the hill. The Govardhan Puja has been a tradition since then and embodies the belief that any devotee can seek protection from God and if his devotion is pure, his wish will be granted.
HH Bhakti Rasamitra Swami - Govardhan Lila, ISKCON Sydney, November 2018
Source Courtesy: Madhu Satwani; ISKCON; SheThePeople