The name 'Govardhana' has two primary translations. In the literal meaning, 'Go' translates to 'cows', and 'vardhana' translates to 'nourishment'. Another meaning of 'Go' is 'the senses' and 'vardhana' can also mean 'to increase' - thus the name is also translated by devotees of Krishna as 'that which increases the senses' in their attraction to Krishna. In this connection, it is believed that the personality of Govardhan blesses the devotee by increasing his devotion (bhakti)
The puja performed on the fourth day of Diwali is called the Govardhan Puja. The origin of this day goes back to the Dwapara Yuga, and to Lord Krishna. According to legends, he lifted mount Govardhan on this day and hence the day is dedicated to the worshiping the mountain. Goverdhan puja is offered as a tribute to Krishna's heroic feat. In parts of north India, people make cow dung replicas of the fabled mound, decorate it with flower petals and offer prayers.
The people of Mathura, where Krishna lived, were basically farmers and had a practice of offering yearly puja's to Lord Indra. The worship was a means of thanking for a good produce and all the celebrations happened at mount Govardhan, near Braj. One particular year, as usual the residents of Mathura started their journey towards the mountain and Krishna accompanied them.
People were preparing to carry out the pooja to please Indra, when Lord Krishna approached them and questioned their belief practice. He told them to worship the fields where they grow their produce and the cattle which are help in planting the crop, instead of Lord Indra. The elders in the community said that it would displease Lord Indra and bring disaster. But, Krishna was persuasive and they yielded to his argument.
The people of Mathura under the guidance of Krishna made all the preparations for worshiping the cattle and the fields, when terror struck. Lord Indra angered by the insult of created a storm which threatened to blow away not only the cattle but also the people. The scared people ran to Krishna for help and he lifted the mountain Govardhan with his little finger. The people and the cattle took shelter under the mountain and were saved from the storm. Humbled by this act, Lord Indra, approached Lord Krishna to apologize.
Govardhan' is a small hillock situated at 'Braj', near Mathura. The legends in 'Vishnu Puraan' have it that the people of Gokul used to worship and offer prayer to Lord Indra for the rains because they believed that it was he who sent rains for their welfare but Lord Krishna told them that it was Mount Govardhan (Govardhan Paevat) and not Lord Indra who caused rains therefore they should worship the former and not the latter. People did the same and it made Lord Indra so furious that the people of Gokul had to face very heavy rains as a result of his anger. Then Lord Krishna came forward to ensure their security and after performing worship and offering prayers to Mount Govardhan lifted it as an umbrella on the little finger of his right hand so that everyone could take shelter under it. After this event Lord Krishna was also known as Giridhari or Govardhandhari.
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.
Govardhan Puja Samagri
- 2 sugarcane sticks
- Clay Deepak and matchsticks
- Cow dung or mud
- Ladoo and Peda
- One silver coin for some money for dakshina
- Unboiled milk
How to Perform Govardhan Puja?
Govardhan puja is performed in the patio of house. Do following procedure:
- Make a dummy of Govardhan parvat (mount).
- Start the puja of Govardhanji by offering 2 sticks of sugarcane.
- Curd, unboiled milk, batasha, laddoo and peda are offered.
- Deepak is lit. Puja is done with roli and chawal
- After the puja, do four parikrama around Govardhanji
- Some batasha is left in the thali. This is later given to the mishrani with money.
- The katha of Lakshmiji is read.
- The mishrani, who reads the katha, is given a silver coin or money as dakshina.
- After puja the kaajal from the kajlota of Deepavali puja is applied.
- The women of the house first eat the sweet rice that was set aside on Deepavali and only then partake the food cooked that day.