Saturday, November 14th 2023
The festival of Diwali is celebrated on the new moon day of the month of Kartika, and the Govardhana Puja festival takes place the following day. Thousands of years ago on that day, Lord Krishna lifted Govardhan Hill on the little finger of His left hand. In doing so, He saved the Vrindavan villagers, along with their cows and all the animals of Vraja, from the torrential rains sent by angry Indra, the King of Heaven.
According to Srimad Bhagvatam, a young and curious Lord Krishna once asked his father Nanda Maharaj why the people of Vraja worshipped Indra year after year. Nanda answered that Indra was worshipped to obtain his blessing their crops with rain. Hearing this, Krishna remained unsatisfied, and He convinced His father, and all the people of Vraja, to cease worshipping Indra. Instead, Krishna declared, we should worship Govardhana Hill, for Giriraja Govardhana—not Indra—is the true source of the prosperity, food, water, and shelter of the people and cows of Vrindavan.
Indra became furious at this wilful neglect and called on his clouds of devastation to hammer Vrindavan with torrential rains and thunderstorms. Suffering this, the people of Vraja, who only look to Krishna when in difficulty, turned to their Lord who then lifted Govardhana Hill, which like a huge umbrella, offered all of the residents of Vrindavan shelter beneath it. For seven days the Vrajavasis remained under Govardhana Hill, free of hunger, thirst, and any other bodily inconvenience, for their minds were solely focused upon beautiful Krishna who held the huge hill delicately balanced atop the little finger of His left hand.
The devotees commemorate this joyous day by offering Krishna a ‘mountain’ of sumptuous food. Devotees also sing praise of Krishna, delight in songs that recount His Govardhan pastime, sing kirtanas of Krishna’s holy names, light and offer ghee lamps, and decorate their homes with colorful rice paintings, banana plants, and water pots topped with coconuts. Thus the devotees glorify Lord Krishna and Govardhan Hill for saving the people of Vraja from the torrential flood waters caused by angry Indra’s storm-filled wrath.
One ritual performed throughout Vraja on this day is the crafting out of cow dung mixed with mud a small hill that signifies Giriraja Govardhan. Devotees also bath the rocks of Giriraja Govardhan with milk and other auspicious substances. They dress Govardhan in new clothes and jewellery and offer Him delicious foods.
Here at the Govardhan Retreat Center, we, along with many visiting devotees, enthusiastically celebrate Govardhan Puja in the valley at the foothills of the Govardhan forest. The program will begin with Go-puja and kirtan followed by hearing of Krishna’s Govardhan pastimes from HG Bhurijana dasa and HH Sacinandana Swami.
We then will bath Govardhana with auspicious and colorful items from Vraja before offering Giriraja Govardhan 56 delicious foods preparations made from wheat, rice, curry made of gram flour, and leafy vegetables—sweet, salty, spicy, and sour—each crowned with Tulasi leaves. A joyous kirtan will follow, with Giriraja Govardhana being offered incense, lamps, colors, and flowers.
All are invited on this auspicious day to join us in service to Giriraja Govardhan. May we jointly and peacefully join together to accept His joyous shelter.