Gopadma Vrat is the festival observed by married women for the welfare and health of their brothers. The festival is considered as the part of Chathur Masya Vrat which means the Vrat of four holy months.
Chathur Masya Vrat commences on the Ashada Shukla Ekadashi and ends on Uthanna Ekadashi of Karthika month.
Gopadma Vrat is said to be observed for a period of seven days in a year for five years. For the year 2021, it starts on Tuesday, 20th July 2021. The exact duration of Ekadashi Tithi has to be ascertained from the respective regional calendars.
This is predominantly said to be observed in Madhwa community. It is also celebrated as the festival of thanks giving for cows. Lord Sri Krishna is the presiding Deity for these festivities.
As per the legend, it is believed that Lord Sri Krishna Himself had told His sister Subhadra to observe this Vrat. The word “Gopadma” denotes both the cow and the lotus.
It is believed that Subhadra did not draw Rangoli at the cow shed of her house unlike other women. When Sri Krishna questioned her on this, she had replied that she was Sri Krishna’s own sister and her entire family was divine. She did not feel the necessity to invoke the blessings of Deities.
Lord Krishna had told her to follow the practice of drawing Rangoli in front of the house and cow shed and observe the Gopadma Vrat as mark of respect to all the thirty-three crore Deities. It is believed that Subhadra had powdered the pearls and mixed with the powder of a hillrock and made the rangoli.
The main ingredient of this Vrat is the drawing of Rangoli of cow with calf, lotuses, auspicious symbols and holy feet at the Puja place or Thulasi plant or cow shed at the house. The figure of cow is depicted with six lotuses on its person. It is believed that the thirty-three crore Devathas (Deities) are present in the cow.
After drawing the Rangoli, special Pujas are done to the figure of the cow and the calf. The Puja is done with Kumkum and atchatha (rice mixed with turmeric). It is believed that all the Deities are present in the Rangoli.
As per legend, the number of Deities is believed to be thirty-three crores. As a reverence to the number, thirty-three pradakshinas are taken around the Rangoli. Sweets are offered as Neivedyam.
Then six separate pradakshanas are done for the six lotuses depicted on the body of the cow. It is believed that the six lotuses represent the six Mohini Deities.
Then Aarti is taken. Arghya Puja is done on a plate for the thirty-three crore Deities. After that another Arghya Puja is done on another plate for the six Mohini Deities.
After reading of the Vrat Katha, rice and water is to be let out on a plate as Sarva Samarpan. Special prayer is to be recited seeking pardon of the Lord for making mistakes in Puja.
Gopadma Puja is to be done continuously for seven days. If for any reason a day is skipped, the Puja can be done on the next day along with the Puja of that day. The significance of the seven days is that Lord Krishna had lifted the Govardhan hill and kept it on His little finger for seven days.
Giving daan / donation is considered important during the observance of the Vrat. At the end of first year Puja, Daan of sweet dish named payasam is given alongwith 33 coins, tulasi, Chandan and thamboolam of betal leaves. At the end of second year Puja, Daan of 33 athirasa (sweet dish made of rice flour and jaggery), 33 coins, brass plate, tulasi, Chandan and thamboolam of betal leaves are given.
At the end of third year Puja, 33 elai appams, 33 coins, brass plate, tulasi, Chandan and thamboolam of betal leaves are given. At the end of fourth year, 33 laddus (mix of four varieties), 33 coins, brass plate, tulasi, Chandan and thamboolam of betal leaves are given.
At the end of fifth year Puja, 33 ubbittu (Poli), 33 coins, brass plate, tulasi, Chandan and thamboolam of betal leaves are given. The Gopadma Puja is followed only for five years.
The above Daan are to be offered only to own brothers. In their absence, they can be offered to other eligible persons.