Sunday, November 14, 2010

Govardhan-puja and Padwa

Fourth Day of Diwali:

        Govardhan-puja, Padwa and Varshaprathipada.

Varshaprathipada marks the coronation of king ‘Vikramaditya’ and the starting of the ‘Vikaram – Samvat’.
The day following the Amavasya is ‘Karthik Shuddh Padwa’.

King ‘Bali’ was a generous ruler but he was also very ambitious. Some of the gods pleaded ‘Vishnu’ to check king Bali’s power.

Vishnu came to earth in the form of a ‘Vamana’ (dwarf) dressed as pundit.

 The dwarf approached king Bali and said “You are the ruler of the worlds: Earth, World above the Skies and the underworld. Would you give me the space that I could cover with three strides?”  King Bali chuckled. Surely a dwarf could not cover much ground, thought the king, who agreed to dwarf’s request. At this point, the dwarf changed into Vishnu and his three strides covered the Earth, the skies and the whole Universe. King Bali was sent to the underworld. It is only on this day that the king Bali would come out of ‘Pathal Loka’ and rule ‘Bhulok’ as per the boon given by Lord Vishnu, Hence, it is also known as ‘Bali Padyami’.

Govardhan Puja, as per ‘Vishnu-Puran’, the people in the village of ‘Gokul’ used to celebrate a festival in honor of Lord ‘Indra’ and worshiped him after the end of every monsoon season. They believed that Indra sent the rains, which made their crops grow. But one particular year, the young ‘Krishna’ stopped them from offering prayers to Lord Indra and persuaded the people to worship the mountain ‘Govardhan’, because the mountain and the land around it were fertile. This did not please Indra. He sent thunder and torrential rain down on the village. 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 mountain Govardhan with his little finger and sheltered men and animals from deluge. This gave him the epithet ‘Govardhandhari’. After this, Indra accepted the supremacy of Krishna.

Govardhan Puja is also performed in the north on this day. 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 hillock, decorate them with flowers and then worship them.

This day is also observed as ‘Annakoot’ meaning ‘mountain of food’. Pious people keep awake the whole night and cook fifty six or 108 different types of food for the ‘Bhog’ (the offering of food) to Krishna. In temples especially in Mathura and Nathadwara, the deities are given milk bath, dressed in shining attires with ornaments of dazzling Diamonds, Pearls, Rubies and other precious stones. After the prayers and traditional worship, innumerable varieties of delicious sweets are ceremoniously raised in the form of a mountain before the deities as ‘Bhog’ and then the devotees approach the mountain of food and take Prasad from it.

Gudi Padwa is Symbolic of love and devotion between the wife and Husband. On this day, newly married daughters with their husbands are invited for special meals and given presents. In Olden days, brothers went to fetch their sisters from their in-laws home for this important day.

On this day, I made a beautiful and colorful rangoli in the centre of our hall and placed Lord Krishna idol in middle and decorated with variety of flowers and with rose petals and I placed diyas around the rangoli. I prepared various sweets and delicious dishes to offer as Prasad. After, I’m done with my cooking. I worshiped Lord Vishnu and Krishna by performing puja and offered Prasad. Later I served the Prasad to all my near and dear ones.