Govardhan Puja, also called Annakut is celebrated as the day Krishna defeated Indra. It is the fourth day of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.
‘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 Govardhan Parvat for rain, instead of Lord Indra. Krishna told the people of Gokul that, it was the mountains and hill state 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.
Govardhan Pooja Celebrations
The fourth day of diwali celebrations is also observed as Anna-Koot, which literally means ‘mountain of food’. On this auspicious day the people prepare fifty-six or one hundred and eight different varieties of delicious dishes to offer Lord Krishna as ‘Bhog’. In the temples, specifically in Mathura and Nathdwara, the deities are given milk bath, dressed in new shining attires and decorated with ornaments of dazzling diamonds, pearls, rubies and other precious stones and metals. Then they are worshipped, offered prayers and bhajans and also offered delicious sweets, fruits and eatables that are ceremoniously raised in the form of a mountain before the idols.
The fourth day of diwali celebrations or the day following the ‘Amavasya‘ is ‘Kartik Shuddh Padwa‘, which is also the day when the King Bali would come out of the ‘Patal Lok’, the nether land and rule the ‘Bhoo Lok’, the world as per the boon given to him by ‘Batu Waman’, Lord Vishnu. Therefore this day is also known as ‘Bali Padyami’. ‘Padwa’ or ‘Varshapratipada’ also marks the coronation of King Vikramaditya as ‘Vikaram-Samvat’ was started from this Padwa day.
The day of Gudi Padwa has special significance for the Hindu families. There is a custom in which on this holy day the wife applies the ‘Tilak’ on the forehead of her husband, garlands him, performs his ‘Aarti’ and also prays for his long life. Then the husband gives her a gift in appreciation of all the tender care that his wife showers on him. Thus the Gudi Padwa is festival of celebrations and respect of love and devotion between the wife and the husband. People invite their newly married daughters with their husbands on this day of Gudi Padwa for special meals and give them gifts.