hantāyam adrir abalā hari-dāsa-varyo
mānaṁ tanoti saha-go-gaṇayos tayor yat
“Of all the devotees, this Govardhana Hill is the best! O My friends, this hill supplies Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, as well as Their calves, cows and cowherd friends, with all kinds of necessities-water for drinking, very soft grass, caves, fruits, flowers and vegetables. In this way the hill offers respect to the Lord. Being touched by the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, Govardhana Hill appears very jubilant.” – CC Anta lila – 14.86
Mount Govardhana is best amongst the vaishnavas, facilitating Krishna and the cows to perform their wonderful pastimes. He is also called Giriraj because he is the best of the mountains.
The residents of Vrindavan were simple, their duty was agriculture. They had numerous of cows and bulls who would graze upon the grass provided by the fertile soils of the hill, their agricultural farms spanning over many acres would depend on Giriraj as a source of nourishment, just like a devotee depends on Krishna for mercy.
In Chaitanya Charitamrita it is found that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu referred to Govardhan as Haridev. So he never rose above Govardhana and did not visit Gopal Deva, little Krishna. That Gopal Deva is still living in the village of Annakut, installed by Madhavendra Puri on the mountain of Govardhana. Srila Rupa and Sanat Goswami following the footsteps of Mahaprabhu, also never went on top.
On this day, the cowherd men were gearing up for a big yagna, it was for Indra, the demigod responsible for providing the rains essential for a successful harvest. So much was getting offered, fruits,milk,varieties of food preparations all in abundance to please Lord Indra. Little boy Krishna however, convinced the residents of Vrindavan to transform their festival and celebrate Govardhana Hill instead, arguing that it was the hill that provide the grass upon which the cows and bulls grazed; and the cows and bulls who provide milk and plough the lands, should be worshiped. So when Krishna spoke he had so much potency that no devotee could refuse. He had a charming way of presenting ideas and he was so logical.
In ISKCON Mayapur, on this occasion lots of food items are prepared. All the major kitchens such as Gada Kitchen, Sulab Kitchen and Gita Kitchen cook massive amounts of bhoga. Many of the community devotees also contribute and bring the bhoga to the temple. Devotees bring more and more bhoga as the day goes on, right up until the massive maha bhoga offering which takes place at midday after the abhisek of Giriraj. The mountain of offerings measures approximately eighteen feet in length, eight feet in width and about four feet in height. And more offerings in pots containing laddu, sandesh, rasagulla, halawa, rice, chapatis, sweet rice, kheer and gulab jamuns.
Since Govardhana Puja is the celebration of the King of Mountains, not only is he given a huge mountain of food, he is also given a gigantic cake which measures around twenty-one square feet. This cake is also distributed along with the prasadam. Once everyone has had enough, they retire for the day, and prepare for a shower of bliss in the evening.
Srila Prabhupada on Govardhana Puja:
“The sacrifice known as Govardhana Puja is observed in the Krishna consciousness movement. Lord Chaitanya has recommended that since Krishna is worshipable, His land, Vrindavana and Govardhana Hill, are also worshipable. To confirm this statement, Lord Krishna said that Govardhana Puja is as good as worship of Him. From that day, the Govardhana Puja has been still going on and is known as Annakuṭa. In all the temples of Vrindavana or outside of Vrindavana, huge quantities of food are prepared in this ceremony and are very sumptuously distributed to the general population. Sometimes the food is thrown to the crowds, and they enjoy collecting it off the ground. From these instances, we can understand that prasadam offered to Krishna never becomes polluted or contaminated, even if it is thrown on the ground. The people, therefore, collect it and eat with great satisfaction.” – Krishna, The Supreme Personality Of Godhead – 1970 Edition : Volume 1 : KB 1-24 / Worshiping Govardhana Hill.
Applying the principle “If you circumambulate the Govardhana Sila, you circumambulate Govardhana hill”. In the evening, the devotees of Mayapur do parikrama around Giriraja who is present on Sri Sri Radha Madhava’s altar, and most do dandavat parikrama. Some even do dandavat parikrama around each altar – Radha Madhava, Panca-tattva and Lord Nrsimhadeva. An ecstatic Kirtan brings the event to an end and everyone goes home in sweet reminiscence of the wonderful festival.