Govardhan Puja, also known as Annakut, marks the fourth day of the Diwali festivities. It is most prominently celebrated in northern parts of India, especially in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Conversely, in the western regions, this day is commemorated as Gudi Padwa. The festival remembers the incident of Lord Krishna lifting the Govardhan Mountain in order to protect the people and animals of Vrindavan from torrential rains sent by Lord Indra. People prepare Annakoot, or the mountain of food, symbolizing the Govardhan Mountain as an offering to the God. Moreover, this Diwali tradition symbolizes the importance of nature in our lives. Find out more on legends of Govardhan Puja and how it is celebrated.
Govardhan Puja Legends
According to the legends, the people of Gokul used to worship Lord Indra. They assumed Lord Indra to send the rains, which made their crops grow and hence, they made offerings to him every year. In some particular year, Lord Krishna came along and persuaded the people to worship the mountains and their cattle, because it was the fertility of the mountain and land around the village that gave them food. However, this did not please Lord Indra and thus, he ordered thunder and torrential rain down resulting in heavy floods in the entire village. Lord Krishna saved the villagers and their cattle by lifting the Govardhan Mountain on his little finger. Since then, Lord Krishna came to be known as Govardhandhari while the Govardhan Puja is observed to worship Lord Krishna. On this day, devotees prepare cow dung hillocks and decorate them with flowers and offer them prayers.
Govardhan Puja Celebrations
Annakoot, which means ‘mountain of food’ is a ritual observed on the fourth day of Diwali. On this day people prepare 56 to 108 different types of ‘Bhog’ to offer to Lord Krishna. The rituals are most enthusiastically celebrated in the temples of Mathura and Nathadwara. Here, the deities are bathed with milk, dressed in new and bright clothes and ornamented with gold, pearl and silver jewelry. After the traditional prayers, the different Bhog prepared are grandly raised as a mountain, from which the devotees take portions as Prasad.
Govardhan is celebrated as Gudi Padwa or Bali Pratipada in Maharashtra on the day after Amavasya marking the new year of the Marathi people. The significance of this day relates to the King Bali who comes out of the Paatal Lok to Bhu Lok to be honored and celebrated for his intense devotion to Lord Vishnu. This day also marks the crowning of King Vikramaditya and the beginning of Vikram-Samvat. Women pray for the well being of their husbands; apply tilak on their forehead and garland them while the husbands give their respective wives gifts in return. The Gudi Padwa festival is a commemoration of the love and trust between a husband and wife. On this occasion, people invite their newly wed daughters and their husbands for meals and present them gifts.