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The Hindu festival of Govardhan Puja, also known as Annakut, is celebrated in commemoration of the conquest of Lord Indra by the hands of Lord Krishna. In some parts of the country, it is referred and celebrated as ‘Padwa’, ‘Varshapratipada’, and ‘Bali Padyami’. Though rigorously celebrated by all the Hindus all across the country, the true flavor of the festival can be sensed in the regions of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Bihar.
Time of Celebration
Govardhan Puja is celebrated on the next day after the celebration of Deepawali. According to Hindu calendar, it falls on the Pratipada Tithi of Kartik Shukla Paksha. According to Georgian calendar, it usually falls either in the month of October or November.
Lord Indra, who in Hindu mythology has been described to be the deity of rains, once got angry over the natives of Gokul after they choose not to worship him on insistence of Lord Krishna. Gokul used to offer prayers to Lord Indra as a mark of gratitude towards him. Lord Krishna told them that they should instead be worshipping nature as in mountains, which fundamentally ought to have the credit for bringing rains to earth. The best way with which one can confer their gratitude to nature is by taking care of them, is the message which Lord Krishna was dedicated to spread. As everyone chose to stand by that belief and didn’t offered worship to Lord Indra, he got angry. Out of that fury, he poured in extremely heavy rains making everyone suffered the consequence of his wrath. Lord Krishna came to the rescue at that time. They asked everyone to offer prayers to Govardhan Parvat., a mountain located in Braj near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. Lord Krishna then lifted the mountain on little finger of his right hand, and made everyone take shelter under it. Lord Krishna is believed to be a seven year old boy at that time. This derived him with one of his popular names of Girdhari or Govardhandhari.
There is another legend associated with this day, which has derived it with the name of ‘Bali Padyami’. It is believed that it is on this day that King Bali, who was killed by Lord Ram on insistence of Bali’s brother Sugriv, came out of Paatal Lok (nether land) to rule over Bhu Lok (the real world) as per the boon conferred to him by Lord Vishnu in the form of ‘Batu Waman’.
People in Gujarat celebrate this festival in commemoration of the beginning of a New Year, as Vikrama Sawant initiates on this day. According to legend, it is the day when coronation of King Vikramaditya took place.
Rituals and Celebration
1. In temples all across the country and in specifically those located in Mathura, Vrindavan, Kashi, Gokul, Nathdwara, and Braj are given a ritual milk bath on this day. Also, they are adorned with new clothes and are embellished with ornaments. People in large numbers make visit to these temples to offer devoted worships and Bhog to Lord. Also, everyone sings devotional songs admiring Lord and his legends.
2. Idols of Lord Krishna, in specifically those depicting him holding Govardhan Parvat on his little finger, are crafted, and purchased in large numbers by devotees. After buying them, they are beautifully decorated with clothes, ornaments, and peacock feathers.
3. There is a traditional ritual of building up hillocks using cow dung on this day, and then beautifully decorating them with flowers. These hillocks are believed to be a representation of Govardhan Parvat, and are referred as ‘Annakoota’. Annakoota means ‘mountain of food’. People offer toys, Kheel, and Batashe to the Annakoota. Also, people offer worships by circumambulating around it and by offering prayers to it as in the form of Govardhan Parvat.
4. Special eateries are prepared on this day to be offered as Bhog to Lord. There is a popular ritual of preparing fifty six (popularly offered as Chappan Bhog) or one hundred and eight different varieties of food and offering it as Bhog to Lord Krishna in the evening.
5. The day is also celebrated as cow day. Cows are given baths and they are adorned with garlands, saffron, and Akshatm. Also, they are worshipped and feed on this day, with a belief that doing so derives enormous virtue to one’s life.6. As a part of Gudi Padwa celebrations made on this day, women perform a coronation ceremony of their husband. As a part of it, a married woman applies tika (sacred mark) on the forehead of her husband, put a garland across his neck, and worships him by performing Aarti. In the end, she prays Lord for her husband’s long life. On his part, a husband confers his wife with blessings and gifts. A newly married woman along with her husband gets an invitation from woman’s parents for a visit to their house on this day. On their visit, they are served with special meals.
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