Govardhan Puja is an extensively celebrated festival in North India to worship the Govardhan Parbat. The festival observes the incidence of lifting of the mountain by Lord Krishna on his little finger, and involves the tradition of erecting cow dung mounds, which symbolise Mount Govardhan. After this episode, Lord Krishna was given the sobriquet Govardhandhari.
Govardhan Puja Legends
The festival symbolises the importance and worship of nature in our lives. Govardhan Parbat is said to have saved its inhabitants from incessant rains.
According to Vishnu Puran, the people of Gokul used to worship Lord Indra and celebrated a festival in his honour as he was considered to be the provider of rains. Once, Lord Krishna stopped them from offering prayers to Indra and worship mountains and cattle as they were the actual source of rains and cultivators of field, respectively. Lord Indra, in a rage, sent a deluge to submerge Gokul!
It is then, that Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan Parbat on his little finger, to provide shelter for the people of Gokul.
Govardhan Puja is known as ‘Padva’ or ‘Bali Pratipada’ in Maharashtra, as it commemorates King Bali who is believed to come out of Pataal Lok to rule over his kingdom in Bhu Lok every year on this day.
Rituals and Celebrations of Govardhan Puja
In Mathura and Nathadwara, people celebrate Govardhan Puja with fervour and utmost devotion.
Cow dung mounds representing Mount Govardhan are built. These mounds are then decorated with flowers and worshipped by the devotees.
‘Annakoot’, meaning a mountain of food, is a ritual of preparing different types of ‘Bhog’ to offer to Lord Krishna. The deities are given a bath in milk, made to wear bright new clothes and are adorned with heavy jewellery. After the traditional prayers, the different Bhogs are magnificently raised as a mountain, and devotees take portions of it as prasad.