The Kartik month starts on the 20th of October (in the west) and 21st of October (in the east) ) 2021 and continues for four weeks till the 18th/19th of November 2021, please check your local calendars for exact dates. In Chapter 12 of Nectar of Devotion, Srila Prabhupada mentions, “It is said that just as Lord Dāmodara is very dear to His devotees, so the month known as Dāmodara or Kārttika is also very dear to them.”
Scriptures like Sanatana Goswami’s Hari Bhakti Vilasa and Srila Rupa Goswami’s Mathura Mahatmya give a lot of details about the significance of this glorious month.
After putting her own endeavor and receiving the mercy of the Lord, the two ingredients that a devotee needs in order to bind Shyamsundar, she tied Him up to a grinding mortar, taking which Shri Krishna later crawled to the Yamalarjun trees growing in the courtyard of Nanda Maharaj and delivered the two sons of Kuber, namely Nalakuvara and Manigriva. This pastime took place in the month of Kartik also known as the month of Damodar and the merits obtained by performing devotional activities for the pleasure of the Lords in this month is 1000 times more than in any other time of the year.
This month is also known as Urja vrata. Urja means shakti and refers to Shri Krishna’s internal potency, Srimati Radharani, who is the predominating deity of this month.
This is the month when Shri Radha and the other sakhis sang the Gopi geet, which is truly relished by the elevated vaishnavas following the moods of the young damsels of Vraja, whose love for Krishna is unsurpassed, and the foremost of whom is Shrimati Radhika.
The first day of the month, Sharad Purnima is when the Sharad raas was performed and the desires of all the Gopis of Shri Krishna were fulfilled.
It was in this month that the demon Arishtasura was killed. His killing gave rise to the appearance of Radha kund and Shyam kund at the foot of the Govardhan hill.
Kartik Amavasya is celebrated as Dipavali, the festival of lights, celebrating the long-awaited return of Lord Ram to his kingdom Ayodhya after the 14 years of banishment and the war that waged between Ram and Ravan.
The day following Amavasya is celebrated as Govardhan puja. It so happened that under the instructions of Lord Krishna all the residents of Vrindavan had stopped worshipping the demigod, Indra, and instead started worshipping Giriraj Govardhan who supplies pastures to the cows and helps in the maintenance of all the Brijwasis.
This month also commemorates the disappearance day of Srila Prabhupada without whose mercy the worldwide celebration of this glorious month would never ever have been possible.
image source: Mayapur.com
The following day is marked by Gopashtami when Shri Krishna goes for cow herding for the very first time.
The last 5 days of the month of Karttika are traditionally known as the Bhishma Panchaka or the Vishnu Panchaka. Grandfather Bhisma fasted for these five days, preparing to give up his life. In the Hari BhaktiVilasa, it is said that if one is capable, one should observe fasting from certain foodstuffs on the Bhishma-panchaka for the pleasure of the Lord. The fast should begin by remembering Bhismadeva on the Ekadasi day and should end on Purnima [the full moon]. The Padma Purana says that one pleases the Lord and makes spiritual advancement by such austerities. However, this is optional.
Remembering the beautiful pastime of Lord Damodar, and hoping to one day be able to tie Damodar with their ropes of love, all the devotees offer ghee lamps in the evening and sing the beautiful Damodarastakam, which creates a transcendental atmosphere in temples during this time. In addition to this, since Srimati Radharani is the predominating deity of this month, the glorification of Her transcendental name, fame, forms, and qualities, is the main vrata to be performed in this month. Mother cow is also worshiped on Govardhan Puja day. On this day, all the residents of Vrindavan had circumambulated Govardhan Hill, and following in their footsteps the devotees perform parikrama of Giriraj Govardhan and offer anakut to the deities.