The fourth day of Diwali is celebrated as Govardhan Puja in Northern India.
This legend has its roots in Govardhan, a small hillock in Braj, near Mathura.
According to Vishnu Puran the people of Gokul used to celebrate a festival in honor of Lord Indra and worshiped him after the end of every monsoon season. Once Lord Krishna observed that his father Nanda Maharaj and cowherd men were preparing themselves for a sacrifice to ‘pacify’ Indra. The sacrifice was done in order to ‘please’ Indra so that there was no scarcity of water for the grains and fodder. However young Krishna had other ‘plans’ for this time. He explained to all the residents of the village that Indra had no role to play in the water cycle which brought about rain. Instead it was Govardhan Hill which was worth worshipping as all the cattle grazed on Govardhan Hill and the rains were due to Govardhan and not Indra.
Everyone was convinced and it was decided to call off the prayers to Lord Indra.
Indra was angered by this and sent a deluge to submerge Gokul. People were afraid that the downpour was a result of their neglect of Indra. But Krishna assured them that no harm would befall them. To protect the people from the torrential downpour Krishna lifted Mount Govardhan with his little finger and provided shelter from the rain to everyone. This incident gave the name ‘Govardhandhari’ to Shri Krishna.
This incident opened Indra’s eyes and he ‘surrendered’ to Lord Krishna.
Through this incident Lord Krishna taught people to worship nature and not idols for things such as rain and good harvest. He wanted to convey to the people that if they took care of the nature, good care would be taken of them as well.
This festival is also called ‘Annakut’ (meaning a heap of grain) which refers to a ‘mountain of food’ symbolizing Govardhan mountain.
This day is also celebrated as Bali Pratipada in some parts of India (more about this festival in the next article). It is believed that King Bali would be the next ‘Indra’.
Therefore the fourth day of Diwali is very special as it brings together both the ‘current‘ and the ‘future‘ Indra.