According to Vedic civilization, unmarried girls from ten to fourteen years of age are supposed to worship either Lord Shiva or the goddess Durga in order to get a nice husband. But the unmarried girls of Vrindavana were already attracted by the beauty of Krishna. They were, however, engaged in the worship of the goddess Durga in the beginning of the Hemanta season (just prior to the winter season). The first month of Hemanta is called Agrahayana (October-November), and at that time all the unmarried gopis of VrIndavana began to worship goddess Durga with a vow. They first ate havisyanna, a kind of foodstuff prepared by boiling together mung dhal and rice without any spices or turmeric. According to Vedic injunction, this kind of foodstuff is recommended to purify the body before one enacts a ritualistic ceremony. All the unmarried gopis in Vrindavana used to daily worship goddess Katyayani early in the morning after taking bath in the river Yamuna. Katyayani is 6TH form of goddess Durga. The goddess is worshiped by preparing a doll made out of sand mixed with earth from the bank of the Yamuna. It is recommended in the Vedic scriptures that a deity may be made from different kinds of material elements; it can be painted, made of metal, made of jewels, made of wood, earth or stone or can be conceived within the heart of the worshiper.
Early in the morning, the gopis used to go to the bank of the Yamuna to take bath. They would assemble together, capturing each other's hands, and loudly sing of the wonderful pastimes of Krishna. It is an old system among Indian girls and women that when they take bath in the river they place their garments on the bank and dip into the water completely naked. The portion of the river where the girls and women take bath was strictly prohibited to any male member, and this is still the system. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, knowing the minds of the unmarried young gopis, benedicted them with their desired objective. They had prayed for Krishna to become their husband, and Krishna wanted to fulfill their desires.
At the end of the month, Krishna, along with His friends, appeared on the scene. Another name of Krishna is Yogesvara, or master of all mystic powers. By practicing meditation, the yogi can study the psychic movement of other men, and certainly Krishna could understand the desire of the gopis. Appearing on the scene, Krishna immediately collected all the garments of the gopis, climbed up in a nearby tree, and with smiling face began to speak to them.
"My dear girls," Krishna- said. "Please come here one after another and pray for your garments and then take them away. I'm not joking with you. I'm just telling the truth. I have no desire to play any joke with you, for you have observed the regulative principles for one month by worshiping goddess Katyayani. Please do not come here all at once. Come alone; I want to see each of you in your complete beauty, for you all have thin waists. I have requested you to come alone. Now please comply."
A woman cannot be naked before any male except her husband. The unmarried gopis desired Krishna as their husband, and He fulfilled their desire in this way. Being pleased with them, He took their garments on His shoulder and began to speak as follows. "My dear girls, you have committed a great offense by going naked in the river Yamuna.
"My dear gopis," Krishna continued, "your desire to have Me as your husband will be fulfilled because with this desire you have worshiped goddess Katyayani. I promise you that during the next autumn season you shall be able to meet with Me, and you shall enjoy Me as your husband."
While passing through the forest of Vrindavana on the bank of the Yamuna, Krishna sat down at a beautiful spot and allowed the cows to drink the cold and transparent water of the Yamuna. Being fatigued, the cowherd boys, Krishna and Balarama also drank. After seeing the young gopis taking bath in the Yamuna, Krishna passed the rest of the morning with the boys.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the
Twenty-second Chapter of Krishna,
"Stealing the Garments of the Unmarried Gopi Girls."
The Adolescent Virgin Goddess in the southern tip of India, Devi Kanya Kumari is said to be the avatar of Devi Katyayani. She is the goddess of penance and Sanyas. During the Pongal (Thai Pongal), a harvest festival, which coincides with the Makara Sankranthi, and is celebrated in Tamil Nadu, young girls prayed for rain and prosperity and throughout the month, they avoided milk and milk products. Women used to bath early in the morning, and worshiped the idol of Goddess Katyayani, carved out of wet sand. The penance ended on the first day of the month of Thai (January–February) in Tamil calendar.