Govardhan Puja – Celebrations, Legend and Significance
Govardhan Puja (Annakut) or Bali Pratipada is celebrated a day after Diwali in Kartik month. The day is celebrated for Lord Krishna who defeated Indra. Sometimes, it is celebrated after two days of Diwali. Govardhan Puja is celebrated by people by making food of cereals like rice, wheat, leafy vegetables and curry of gram flour to offer the food to Lord Krishna.
Reason behind Celebration
In India, Govardhan Pooja is celebrated as Bali Padva or Bali Pratipada since the time of Mahabharata at some places. It commemorates the victory of Lord Vishnu’s incarnation, Vamana over Bali, the demon king. King Bali had a boon to be very powerful by Lord Vishnu. This day is also celebrated as Gujarati’s New Year somewhere in India in the Kartik month at Shukla Paksha Pratipada.
Govardhan Puja is based on the history of Govardhan Parbat. The legends say that Lord Krishna saved the lives of many people with Govardhan Parbat against the heavy storm. Villagers in Gokul were used to offer worship to Lord Indra, the god of rain. It was Lord Krishna who changed the beliefs in people’s mind. He told the locals that they should start worshipping Annakut Mountain or Govardhan Parbat because he is saving their lives and nurturing them with food and shelter, instead of Lord Indra.
Since then, the locals started worshipping the hill instead of Indra. Indra got furious and brought heavy storms to Gokul. In order to save the innocent lives, Lord Krishna lifted the whole Govardhan Parbat with his little finger and covered everyone in it. This way, Lord Krishna defeated furious Indra. Govardhan Puja is celebrated to show homage to the mountain.
This festival is celebrated by the people of Mathura and Gokul with great joy and fervor. People are used to make Parikrama, or round (usually starts from bathing in Ganga and devotees offer worship to Harideva, Manasi Devi and Bramha Kunda. On the way to Parikrama, there are around 11 Silas with their own significance) of the hill and offer worship.
With the heap of cow dung, people make Govardhan Dhari ji in the form of mountain of food and decorate it with flowers and pay worship. People prepare different types of Bhod to offer to Lord Krishna. They bath the idol in milk and adorn with new clothes and jewelry. They perform worship with aarti and bhog. The Krishna temples are well decorated across India and a lot of events are organized. Foods are distributed after Pooja. People have Prasad and seek blessings of Lord by touching the feet of Lord with their head.
People prepare different types of food and offer worship with dancing and singing. Mountain is considered to be the real god as it provides shelter and protection in extreme weather. There are several traditions and customs for celebrating Govardhan Pooja every year. At this day, Lord Krishna is worshipped to celebrate his victory over the evil forces. People also bath their livestock early morning and adorn them with garlands, saffron etc.