The Significance and Story behind Govardhan Puja or Annakut

Govardhan Puja or Annakut Puja is celebrated across India and Nepal to cherish the victory of Lord Krishna over the King of demigods Lord Indra. Lord Krishna taught the people of Vrindavan to worship nature. Annakut pooja is performed with immense gratitude, passion, and eagerness. Govardhan Puja is performed on the fourth day of Diwali by worshiping the heap of grain which symbolizes the Govardhan Parvat (mountain).

The story behind Govardhan Puja or Annakut

One day, 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 plowed the lands.

Outraged, Lord Indra retaliated with terrifying thunderstorms. Lord Krishna, calmly lifted Govardhan Hill with the little finger of his left hand. For seven days and seven nights, Sri Krishna 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.

Devotees prepare varieties of foodstuffs with grain and ghee and all kinds of milk preparations. The food is stacked like a small hill and offered to the Lord. Then it is distributed to everyone as Prasadam. Hence, this festival is also called the Annakut Festival.

Slokas in Srimad Bhagwata

देवे वर्षति यज्ञविप्लवरुषा वज्राश्मवर्षानिलै:

सीदत्पालपशुस्त्रियात्मशरणं द‍ृष्ट्वानुकम्प्युत्स्मयन् ।

उत्पाट्यैककरेण शैलमबलो लीलोच्छिलीन्ध्रं

यथाबिभ्रद् गोष्ठमपान्महेन्द्रमदभित् प्रीयान्न इन्द्रो गवाम् ॥

deve varṣati yajña-viplava-ruṣā vajrāsma-varṣānilaiḥ
sīdat-pāla-paśu-striy ātma-śaraṇaṁ dṛṣṭvānukampy utsmayan
utpāṭyaika-kareṇa śailam abalo līlocchilīndhraṁ yathā
bibhrad goṣṭham apān mahendra-mada-bhit prīyān na indro gavām

Srimad Bhagwata, 10.26.25

Meaning: Lord Indra became angry when his sacrifice was disrupted, and thus he caused rain and hail to fall on Gokula, accompanied by lightning and powerful winds, all of which brought great suffering to the cowherds, animals, and women there. When Lord Krishna, who is by nature always compassionate, saw the condition of those who had only Him as their shelter, He smiled broadly and lifted Govardhana Hill with one hand, just as a small child picks up a mushroom to play with it. Holding up the hill, He protected the cowherd community. May He, Govinda, the Lord of the cows and the destroyer of Indra’s false pride, be pleased with us.

श्रीशुक उवाच

गोवर्धने धृते शैले आसाराद् रक्षिते व्रजे ।

गोलोकादाव्रजत्कृष्णं सुरभि: शक्र एव च ॥

śrī-śuka uvāca
govardhane dhṛte śaile
āsārād rakṣite vraje
go-lokād āvrajat kṛṣṇaṁ
surabhiḥ śakra eva ca

Srimad Bhagwata, 10.27.1

Meaning: After Lord Krishna had lifted Govardhana Hill and thus protected the inhabitants of Vraja from the terrible rainfall, Surabhi, the mother of the cows, came from her planet to see Krishna. She was accompanied by Indra.

Significance of Govardhan Puja

The Govardhan Puja is also significant as it spreads the message of conserving natural resources. Worshipping mother nature has always been an integral practice in Hindu dharma. The main purpose behind mountain worship has always been the conservation and protection of vulnerable and precious natural resources.

  • Govardhan Puja serves as a reminder of the importance of nature, gratitude, and the power of devotion. On this day, devotees prepare a mountain-like structure made of food items, known as the Annakut, which symbolizes the Govardhan Hill. It is a display of gratitude to Lord Krishna for his protection and blessings.
  • The Annakut comprises various vegetarian dishes, sweets, fruits, and other food items, and it is offered to the deities in temples or as a personal offering at home. Devotees also participate in rituals, and prayers, and sing devotional songs dedicated to Lord Krishna.
  • Govardhan Puja holds significance in promoting a sustainable and eco-friendly way of life. It emphasizes the importance of conserving natural resources, acknowledging the bountiful gifts of nature, and understanding the interconnectedness of all living beings.
  • Govardhan Mountain itself holds a religious significance and visiting the place is capable of liberating a man from all his sins.