Govinden Festival

Every year in Mauritius there is a one month fasting festival called Govinden from mid September till mid October dedicated to Lord Krishna. It is mainly celebrated by the Tamils and Telegus of the country, and year after year is being celebrated with more and more pomp.

The root of the festival is actually debatable. Some believe it is an equivalent of the Govardhana Puja, others claim that it was a way devised by our ancestors while they were still under colonisation to gather the community together and make sure rites and rituals were not lost. Still others believe it is a purely Vaishnavite festival.

Basically the festival involves a one month fasting for Lord Krishna, and then gathering each Saturday of the month in particular temples around the country for a night-long session of prayers and bhajanams. A huge kutuvillaku is kept lighted the whole night, with young girls and boys dancing kummi and kollatam around it, bhajanam groups from different parts of the country coming to sing, people making offerings to Lord Krishna and lighting diyas near him.

Govinden is actually one of my favourite festivals ever, and perhaps that of many other people too. If you have ever had the chance of being part of one then you’ll understand what I mean when I say it is a display of fervent devotion and at the same time an explosion of joy. In short, the festival ‘feels’ like Krishna. When I think of Govinden I think of how gorgeous the Lord Krishna murthi in my favourite temple always looked on the last Saturday of the Govinden festival; i picture the proud scintillating kutuvillaku surrounded by pretty pretty diyas; i remember colourful arrays of ghagra cholis, sarees and kurtas which threatened my already endangered eyesight; i smell incense and flowers; i remember the taste of burning hot tea and the numerous oily cakes i’ve savoured in the tents set up in the temple yards; i think of the 2am barefoot walks with my uncles, sisters and cousins from one temple to the other in the vicinity; i picture aunties and grannies prowling for potential daughter-in-laws; i hear beautiful music and beautiful voices singing the praises of Lord Krishna, i hear the rythm of kollatam sticks and joyful clapping of hands; i see skirts twirling around the kutuvillaku; i remember sly flirting and giggling. heh.

So this post is dedicated to
Lord Krishna.
the comfort of my mom’s lap during the night prayers when my shoulders refused to hold my head any more.
the glasses of tea which i have enjoyed.
my sisters’ company.
all the love stories which kindled during Govinden festivals.
the sound of kollatam sticks and anklets.
Amma Selvom’s voice.
beautiful kutuvillakus.
the numerous cute strangers i’ve eye-flirted with even while squished between my mom and my grandma.
the pebbles which have hurt my feet while running to Kovil ‘La rue la reine’.
the hope that i’ll be celebrating Govinden again.soon.

and to the beautiful saturday when this kollatam was performed.


14 Comments on “Govinden Festival”

  1. Veena says:

    Great dance and melodious song !. Can you please send me the song.?


  2. naresh says:

    I would like to have a clear version of this spiritual ceremony.I have the intention of organising a good Govinden ceremony in Paris;

  3. Jemilla says:

    It is also my favourite festival, and it is true that it is full of colours ,nice scents and fervent devotees

  4. govind says:

    Bravo this is clear simple and straight forward explanation of how we Mauritians celebrate govinden with fervour and devotion .
    one important aspect is missing why we celebrate govinden

    “it is to ask for protection against the malefic effect of planets saturn “”
    we pray krisha,Maha vishnu and Venkateswara all three of the same roubam to seek their protection on Saturday .why on saturday because the effect of satun on saturday is less dominant .
    They save allof us , their devotees , from the ill effect of the cursing planets.


    • bansuri says:

      Hi Govind!

      True, i’ve heard of that explanation from my elders also. Thanks for highlighting it here.

      I seriously miss the Govinden atmosphere! ah!

      Have a blessed Govinden!

  5. coopoomootoo roobee says:

    govinden month is the light month for every tamoul family

  6. Omshakti9 says:

    wonderful it seems Govinden……TAMIL culture is a very beauitiful one…dont why many tamil mauritians others am not a tamil.. a hindu but am pretty well known about this wonderful dravian culture..!!!plz hindus dont convert have faith in our religion..dharma ki raksha karna..and also tamil, telegu..marathi..and hindus coming from bihar…are not different religions…many do not understand this..this is a platform where we can express..its the same…we are from the same country only that regions which we all say om in our prayers so why this difference?? there is a lot of shakti in hinduim!!!Hare shakti

    • bansuri says:


      Sadly enough most Hindus in Mauritius fail to understand how we can all ‘be the same’ simply because our ancestors came from different parts of India.

      It just goes to show how little Mauritian Hindus know about Hinduism.

  7. Emelien Govinden says:

    I am a South African Indian and I never knew that there was a special month of fasting and prayer to Govinden, my surname which I am very proud of. There are not many Govindens in South Africa. I am proud to know where my surname originates from.

  8. Uma devi says:

    Does anyone know which temple iis celebrating Govinden or Govinda puja this yr on 17th September, meaning 1st Saturday of Govinden month?
    Pleas e let me know …I live in Croydon.

  9. Antish says:

    I would like to know why do we celebrate Govinden basing on our sanaatana dharma?

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