Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is celebrated for five days all over India, with each day bearing a special significance. Observed on the next day of Lakshmi Puja,i.e., on the fourth day of Diwali, Govardhan Puja holds great significance among the Hindus in north India. In other parts of the country, this day is known as 'Padva' or 'Bali Pratipada',which is celebrated to welcome King Bali on earth. On this day, people build hillocks with cow dung, which signifies the GovardhanParvat, the mountain which Lord Krishna is believed to have lifted up once, to save the people of Gokul from the wrath of Lord Indra. These hillocks are then decorated with flowers and people move in circles around the hillock and offer their prayers to GovardhanParvat. There are many legends and custom associated with Govardhan Puja. Scroll down and learn more about Govardhan Puja celebrations.
Govardhan Puja Legends
'Govardhan', a small hillock situated at 'Braj', holds special significance for the Hindus. According the revered Hindu scripture 'Vishnu Purana', Lord Krishna once asked the people of Gokul to worship GovardhanParvat for rain, instead of Lord Indra. Krishna told the people of Gokul that, it was the mountains and hillsthat bring all the rain to earth and not Lord Indra, whom people used to think,bestowed rains on earth. When people started worshipping the mountain, infuriated Indra showered heavy rains upon Gokul. To save the lives of people from the consequent flood, Krishna lifted the great Govardhan Parvat (hillock) on his little finger and offered shelter to the people of Gokul until the rains abated. Another legend associated with Govardhan Puja is that of King Bali who, according to the legends, was vanquished by Lord 'Vishnu' in his 'Vamana' avatar, comes out from Patal Lok (netherworld) every year on the day of the Govardhan Puja to visit his Kingdom on earth. This day is also known as 'Padva' or 'Bali Pratipada', in some parts of the country.
Anna-Koot, meaning the 'mountain of food' is celebrated on the second day of Diwali. Observed with ceremonial prayers, devotees prepare 'Bhogs', which comprises of as many as 56 or 108 delicious dishes and offer this to Lord Krishna. On this day, the idols of the deities are bathed in milk, wrapped in gaudy attires and adorned with jewelries. Prayers, community bhajans etc. are conducted and all sorts of dishes, fruits are placed before the deities.
On the fourth day of Diwali, Shudh Padwa is celebrated. According to legends, on this day King Bali comes to the earth and visits his kingdom as per the boon bestowed upon him by Lord Vishnu. Therefore, this day has long been celebrated as 'Bali Padyami' to welcome King Bali to earth. 'Padwa' or 'Varshapratipada' is also the day on which King Vikramaditya was coronated.
On the day of GudiPadwa, women put 'Tilak' on their husbands' foreheads, conduct Aarti and pray for their long life. Husbands, in return, bring presents for their wives. Celebrated since ages, the day of Gudi Padwa holds special significance in Hindu culture. On this day, people meet their in laws over an elaborate meal.
The custom of Govardhan Puja owes its origin to the Mahabharata age. Hope this article answers al your doubts regarding Govardhan Puja.