Legend behind Govardhan Puja
‘Govardhan’ is a small hillock situated at ‘Braj’, near Mathura. As per Vishnu Purana, 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. Shri Krishna told them that it was Mount Govardhan (Govardhan Parvat) and not Lord Indra who caused rains. So they should offer the prayers to the mountain.
This 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 left hand so that everyone could take shelter under it. This is how Lord Indra was defeated and after this event Lord Krishna was also known as Giridhari or Govardhandhari.
Govardhan Puja and Bali Pratipada
Most of the time Govardhan Puja day falls next day after Diwali and it is celebrated as the day when Lord Krishna defeated God Indra. Sometimes there may be a day’s gap between Diwali and Govardhan Puja.
In religious texts, Govardhan Puja celebrations are suggested during Pratipada Tithi of Kartik month. Depending on starting time of Pratipada, Govardhan Puja day might fall one day before on Amavasya day on Hindu calendar.
Govardhan Puja is also known as Annakut Puja. On this day food made of cereals like wheat, rice, curry made of gram flour and leafy vegetables is cooked and offered to Lord Krishna.
In Maharashtra the same day is celebrated as Bali Pratipada or Bali Padva. The day commemorates victory of Vamana, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, over King Bali and subsequent pushing of Bali to Patal Lok (the underworld). It is believed that due to boon given by Lord Vamana, Asura King Bali visits the Prithvi Lok from the Patala Lok on this day.
Note: Thanks to Mr R Ramanathan for correctly pointing out an error in this article. That has been now rectified – Webmaster