Diwali is a five-day long celebration, of which the main Lakshmi Puja for Diwali falls on the third day. The fourth day of Diwali is celebrated as the "Govardhan Puja" in some parts of India.
On this day, Lord Krishna and Govardhan Parvat are worshipped. In north India, this festival is also known as 'Balipadyami' or the 'Kartik Shudh Padwa'; and in south India, it is celebrated as 'Balipratipada'.
Balipadyami commemorates the victory of Vamana, incarnation of Lord Vishnu, over Bali, pushing him to the nether world. However, Bali was given a boon by Vishnu to return to earth for one day to meet his masses and to be worshipped for his noble deeds, which is the reason Balipadyami is celebrated in south of India. The rituals may vary between different parts of the country.
The story of Lord Krishna is also associated with this celebration, as the legend goes. According to mythology, the people of Vrindavan used to worship Lord Indra, the King of Gods and the God of rain and storm to please him.
Once Lord Krishna asked the people why they need to worship Lord Indra when the Mountain Govardhan helped them in their livelihood. Later, people realised the fact of his words and they started worshipping Govardhan Parvat instead of Lord Indra.
Lord Indra was furious and he sent all his rains, storm and hails to destroy Vrindavan. Lord Krishna assured people and picked up the Mountain Govardhan on his little finger.
All people and animals took shelter under it. Not only that, but Lord Krishna also arranged food for every one, until Indra stopped his curse.
From that day on, the Govardhan Pujan is being performed and it is now celebrated with pomp and vigour on the fourth day of Diwali. Do you know the rituals of this puja? Have a look.
1. Chappan Bhog: 'Anna-kut' puja is done on this day. 'Anna-kut' means the mountain of foods. People prepare 56 or 108 types of food on the previous night and offer it to Lord Krishna. This is known as 'chappan bhog'. The food items are designed in the shape of a mountain and it is offered to the deity of Lord Krishna.
2. Deity of Govardhan: Pious people make a mountain-like deity of Govardhan Parvat with cow dung and decorate it with new clothes, garland and flowers. As puja samagri, roli, moli, vermillion, flowers, rice, coconut, sugarcane, etc., are used.
3. Bathing of Lord Krishna: In temples and also at houses, the deity of Lord Krishna is bathed in milk, ghee, honey and curd mixture. Then, it is wiped off well and designed with new clothes and ornaments. In large temples and affluent houses, Lord Krishna is decorated with precious ornaments like gold, diamond, ruby, emerald, etc.
4. Chants and Hymns: The priests sing chants and hymns of Lord Krishna and devotees listen to it during the puja. In households, ladies sing and chant various hymns. This shows utter dedication to the God.
5. Distributing Prasad: After the puja is performed, devotees get 'charnamrut' and Prasad from the bhog. Several types of sweets are offered to Lord Krishna and Govardhan Ji. People get those as Prasad and also receive blessings.
The significance of this puja is to realize the importance of food in human life and also to show respect towards it.
You should also be thankful to the supreme power for giving you food and to nature from where you get it. So, celebrate Govardhan puja or Balipadyami with lots of happiness and devotion to God.