Gopashtami, or Gopa Ashtami, is an important festival dedicated to Lord Krishna and is observed on the eighth day during waxing phase of the moon in the month of Kartik (October – November). Gopaashtami festival celebrates the day when
Krishna became an independent cowherd. Go Puja, worship of cows, is performed in many regions in on the day. In 2016, the date of Gopashtami is November 8. India
It is believed that Lord Krishna was allowed to herd the cows for the first time on this day by his foster father Nanda. Till then he was only looking after the calves. The day is a major event in all Krishna temples and in places associated with Krishna like Vrindavan,
and Nathdwara. Mathura
Devotees bathe and clean the cows and the cowshed (Goshala). In Nathdwara, cow herders bring hundreds of cows and their calves to the temples and the cows are beautifully decorated for the occasion.
Gopaashtami ritual was meant for boys only but it is said that Radha also wanted to join in the ritual and she dressed up like a boy and took part in the festival. This incident is enacted in some regions on the day.
Several important meetings and seminars on cow protection are also held on the day.
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