Govardhan Puja Festival
Govardhan-Puja is also performed in the North on this day. Diwali or Deepavali festival is enthusiastically celebrated for five continuous days, in which the festivity begins two days prior and ends two days after Diwali, and each day has its significance with a number of myths, legends and beliefs. The Fourth day is celebrated as ‘Padva’ or ‘Bali Pratipada’ to commemorate King Bali.Govardhan is a small hillock in Braj, near Mathura and on this day of Diwali people of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar build cowdung, hillocks, decorate them with flowers and then worship them.
This festival is in commemoration of the lifting of Mount Govardhan by Krishna. People were afraid that the downpour was a result of their neglect of Indra. But Krishna assured them that no harm would befall them.
He lifted Mount Govardhan with his little finger and sheltered men and beasts from the rain. This gave him the epithet Govardhandhari. After this, Indra accepted the supremacy of Krishna. This festival is known as Bhai Bij in Gujarati and Bhai Phota in Bengali.
In western state of India, Maharastra, the fourth day of Diwali celebrations is known and marked as Padwa or Bali Pratipada. As per the mythological legend on this particular day King Bali is allowed to return to the earth once in the year, as per the boon given to him by Lord Vishnu. So Bali Pratipada also known as Bali Padyami is celebrated to welcome the King Bali. The same day of Padwa is also marked as New Year as the Vikram Samvat was started on this day.
The two days after Diwali festival is also observed as Annakoot that stands for the mountain of food. On this day devotees hold special pooja ceremonies during the night, make special bhog comprising of fifty six or one hundred and eight variety of food items. The idol of Gods and Goddesses are given milk bath, adorned with new attire and shimmering jewelry items and then traditional prayer ceremonies are held to seek the blessings of almighty.