Gou Dhaan basically refers to the process of gifting a Gou or cow to a Brahmin. This is followed as a religious practice in Hindu rituals very often to gain some specific purpose served. According to Hindu belief, the cow or Gou is considered as the incarnation of all the Gods and Goddesses, and each body part of the cow is presumed to be the location of various Gods. Therefore, Gou is worshiped on all religious rituals. Goudhaan is practiced mainly in the post-death rites performed by the children for the achievement of the heavenly abode to their departed parent(s). An elaborate series of rituals are prescribed as part of the post –death rites in the Brahmin community. Tilānjali and pinḍadān (offering of rice balls) are performed from 1st to 10th day of the death. On 11th day multiple rituals like Ekoddishta shrāddha, Vasugan shrāddha, and Rudragan shrāddha are performed and on the 12th day Sapindikaran shrāddha is performed. As part of the 12th-day rituals, all worldly needs of the individual are gifted to deserving Brahmins with a purpose of reaching the same to the departed soul, which is believed to discard all bonds with the physical body and the family on that day. Goudhaan is one of the most priced gifts being offered on this ritual and there are different beliefs regarding the purpose served, such as to get good food for the soul, for crossing the mythical Vaitharani river, etc. Meanwhile, another school of thought prevails among Hindus where,Goudhaan is recommended to be performed when a person is alive and fit and performed by self, instead of the children performing the ritual on behalf of the parent(s). According to this thought, the self-performed Gou Dhaan is 100 time more fruitful than that done by the children or the son after the death of the person.
Apart from as part of post-death rites, Goudhaan is practiced for avoiding the predicted bad happeninngs a part of the Grahachara doshas, based on the Jathka phala, as suggested by the Astrologer. Different Homa (Havana) are prescribed for different types of doshas and during the rituals,Goudhaan is offered to ward off the predicted doshas. Normally the cow is decorated, worshipped and gifted along with money and all other traditional Pooja materials to a deserving Brahmin according to the way prescribed by the Vedas through a priest during Goudhaan ritual. Gou Dhaan is categorized as one of the best danas in Hinduism. Therefore ,Goudhaan or Godaan has a prominent status in Hinduism and being practiced with reverence even today!
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