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Gopa Ashtami is an important festival dedicated to Krishna the Lord. This festival gives everyone a message to respect cows. Narrating Sri Krishna stories and Gow Puja (worshipping cows) hold a lot of significance on this day.
On Gopa Ashtami, Cows- the animal we use for our benefit in our everyday lives- are given special treatment as they are believed to be dearto Lord Krishna.
Gopa Ashtami is observed on the eighth day during Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of the Moon) in Kartik month (October – November).
Legends and Beliefs
Hindu scriptures explain a lot about Lord Krishna. Krishna is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and is well-known for his fondness for calves and cows since his childhood. It is believed that on this day, Lord Krishna was allowed to tend the cows for the first time. Till this particular day in his childhood, he was just allowed to take care of calves.
There is another very popular legend about Gopa Ashtami according to which Radha (a Hindu Goddess) also wanted to herd cows but was not allowed to. So, she dressed up like a boy and joined Shri Krishna and other Gopas (cow herd boys).
Rituals and Celebrations
On this day, devotees clean cows and their cowsheds and bathe cows with clean water. After that, they are given special food and are worshipped. In Krishna temples and holy places like Vrindavan and Mathura (historic temple cities in India) which are closely associated with Krishna the Lord, Shri Krishna stories are recited and this festival is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm. Many cows are brought to the temples, where they are bathed, fed, beautifully decorated with colourful clothes and jewellery and are worshipped. In many places, seminars and meetings are organized for cow protection and for their welfare. Pradakshina (circumambulation) around the cow is the most important ritual of Gopa Ashtami festival.
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