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Today in the UK is the day of Govardhan Puja. One day after Diwali, it is now that we celebrate the time when Krishna saved the people of Vraja from Indra's vengeful rainstorm by lifting Govardhana Hill for seven days and nights so that they could shelter underneath. I have some fond memories of pilgrimages to India at this time, when my daughter was very small. She used to love all the stalls selling mithai and glass bangles that pop up on the streets from nowhere for Diwali and the colourful rangoli outside peoples' doors. On Diwali night we all used to go down to Manasi Ganga in Govardhan and put divas on the water. The crowds were awesome! The mandirs in Vrindavan and Govardhan are decorated with festoons of twinkling lights, firecrackers are going off everywhere and inside the lamp-lit temples there are beautiful decorations with cow-dung murti of Krishna lifting Govardhan, coloured with bright powders to welcome the steady stream of worshippers. My Guru Maharaja used to take us onto Giriraja Govardhana at night to sing bhajans by candlelight. In the day we would do parikrama of Giriraja Govardhan (which takes nearly all day) stopping to feed dried chana to the monkeys and listen to Harikatha, and on Govardhan Puja we would have the annakuta festival, for which we would make sweet and savoury preparations and carry them in a loud kirtan procession, along with heavy jugs of milk which we had painted the day before, through the town of Govardhan and to Giriraja, where Gurudeva would perform arati and offer them all. We each got a large bag of prasadam goodies to take back with us!
Tonight I shall make some special sweets, pile them up in the shape of a hill and remember Krishna's sweet Govardhan lila...