The word payaḥ means milk. Hence, Payovrata is essentially performing a vow by subsisting on milk and worship of Lord Kṛṣṇa for twelve days.

 

Payovrata starts from

7th March 2019 to 18th March 2019

 

Payovrata is known as the best of all vratas. This is explained as follows:

ayaṁ vai sarva-yajña̅khyaḥ sarva-vratam iti smṛtam

tapaḥ-sa̅ram idaṁ bhadre da̅naṁ ceśvara-tarpaṇam

This payovrata is also known as sarva-yajña. In other words, by performing this sacrifice, one is said to perform all other sacrifices automatically. This is also acknowledged to be the best of all ritualistic ceremonies. O, gentle lady, it is the essence of all austerities, and it is the process of giving charity and pleasing the supreme.

This was originally instructed by Lord Brahma̅ to Kashyapa Muni when Kashyapa Muni approached Lord Brahma̅ placing inquiries regarding obtaining progeny[1].

 

Payovrata has to be performed for 12 days from the beginning of śukla pakṣa up to dwa̅daśi in the month of pha̅lguṇa (Feb-Mar). During these 12 days, one should worship the lotus-eyed Supreme Personality of Godhead with unalloyed devotion. (8.16.25). The vrata is as follows:

  1. On the previous day make a saṅkalpa to undergo payovrata and worship the Deity of the Lord with great attention. Also, one should read and recite from 8th canto, 16th chapter of Śrimad Bha̅gavatam.
  2. Things to be done on the first day, i.e., on the day of amava̅sya (dark moon):
    1. In the morning, one should take Tulasi mrttike (i.e, mud from the base of a Tulasi/Sacred Basil plant). This mud should be applied on the body and one should take bath. While taking bath, one should pray to Bhu̅-devi or Mother Earth as follows:

 

tvaṁ devy a̅di-vara̅heṇa rasa̅ya̅ḥ stha̅nam icchata̅

uddhṛta̅si namas tubhyaṁ pa̅pma̅naṁ me praṇa̅śaya

O Mother Earth, you were raised by the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the form of a boar because of your desiring to have a place to stay. I pray that you kindly vanquish all the reactions of my sinful life. I offer my respectful obeisance unto you. (Śrimad Bha̅gavatam,8.16.26,27)

  1. After bathing, one should perform his daily spiritual duties (Ga̅yatri japa).
  2. In the beginning, the devotee should chant (108 times) the dva̅daśa̅kṣara-mantra (oṁ namo bhagavate va̅sudevaya) and offer flower garlands, incense and so on. After worshipping the Lord in this way, one should bathe the Lord with milk and dress Him with proper garments, a sacred thread, and ornaments. Thereafter one should offer water to wash the Lord’s lotus feet. , one should worship the Lord with fragrant flowers, incense and other paraphernalia.
  3. Then, with great attention, one should worship the Deity of the Supreme Personality of Godhead by offering incense, lamp, flowers, water, cloth and fan. Śrimad Bha̅gavatam, 16.28)
  4. Then one should feed at least two Vaisnavas the sweet rice. (Śrimad Bha̅gavatam,16.43)
  5. One should perfectly honor the respectable bra̅hmaṇas one has fed, and then, after taking their permission, one should take prasa̅dam with his friends and relatives. For that night and for the next 12 days, one should observe strict celibacy. (Śrimad Bha̅gavatam,16.44-45)
  1. For the next 12 days one should follow payovrata (subsisting only on milk, else at least sweet rice taken once a day), hari a̅ra̅dhanam (bathing and reciting the mantras for the pleasure of the Lord), homa or yajña (fire sacrifice), arcanam (worshipping the Lord with various paraphernalia) and dvija-tarpaṇaṁ (serving the Brahmana Vaiṣnavas) with purity and attention and according to the methods stated above (i.e., step no: 3c to 3p). (Śrimad Bha̅gavatam,16.46-47)
  1. From pratipat until the thirteenth day of the next bright moon (śukla-trayodaśi̅), one should observe the following strictly: (Śrimad Bha̅gavatam,16.48-57)
    1. Complete celibacy,
    2. Sleeping on the floor (with a mat) at night,
  • Bathing three times a day,
  1. Not talking unnecessarily. Also, strictly avoiding talking about material subjects or topics of sense gratification,
  2. Should be completely free from envy of all living entities,
  3. Should be a pure and simple devotee of Lord Va̅sudeva.
  • Should give up the miserly habit of not spending money and one should arrange for the gorgeous worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
  • One should distribute Viṣṇu-prasa̅dam to everyone, including the poor man, the blind man, non-devotee and the nonbra̅hmaṇa. Knowing that the original creator, Lord Viṣṇu is very pleased when everyone is sumptuously fed with Viṣṇu-prasa̅dam, the performer of yajña should then take prasa̅dam with his friends and relatives.
  1. Every day from pratipat to trayodaśi̅, one should continue the ceremony, to the accompaniment of dancing, singing, the beating of a drum, the chanting of prayers and all-auspicious mantras, and recitation of Śri̅mad-Bha̅gavatam. In this way, one should worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
  1. On the 13th day, following the directions of the śa̅stra one should bathe Lord Viṣṇu with five substances (milk, yogurt, ghee, sugar and honey). (Śrimad Bha̅gavatam, 8.16.50)

Thus completes the description of Payovrata. After performing this vrata, a suitable date and time should be fixed for conception as per the rules mentioned in the book Garbhadhäna samskara.

eva niyama̅ḥ sa̅kśa̅tta eva ca yamottama̅ḥ

tapo da̅naṁ vrataṁ yajñoyena tuṣyaty adhokṣajaḥ

This vrata is the best process for pleasing the transcendental Supreme Personality of Godhead, known as Adhokṣaja. It is the best of all regulative principles, the best austerity, the best process of giving charity, and the best process of sacrifice. (Śrimad Bha̅gavatam, 8.16.48)

[1]Śrimad Bha̅gavatam, 8.16.24