The fourth day of the five day long festivals, followed by Diwali is Govardhan Puja. This festival is another day of celebration holding special tribute to Lord Krishna by his devotees. There is a tradition of building cow dung hillocks, which symbolize the Mount Govardhan, the mountain which was once lifted by Lord Krishna. After making such hillocks people decorate them with flowers and then worship them. They move in a circle around the cow dung hillocks and offer prayers to Lord Govardhan.
This day is also observed as Anna-Koot, which literally means ‘mountain of food’. On this auspicious day the people prepare fifty-six or one hundred and eight different varieties of delicious dishes to offer Lord Krishna as ‘Bhog’. In the temples the deities are given milk bath, dressed in new shining attires and decorated with ornaments. Then they are worshipped, offered prayers and bhajans and also offered delicious sweets, fruits and eatables that are ceremoniously raised in the form of a mountain before the idols.
Legend of the festival:
This festival signifies the victory of humility and nobleness of Lord Krishna over the ego of Lord Indra. Due to the strong pride of Lord Indra, he felt insulted when the devotees of Mathura adored Govardhan hill and the cows and bulls. He expressed his rage through heavy and violent rains. Soon lord Krishna came to rescue and he protected the villagers as well as the animals by lifting up the hill on his little finger. The love and faith of the people for Lord Krishna, made lord Indra realize his worth and he had to surrender his ego in the feet of Supreme God.
This festival is a celebration of the love between the being and his supreme creation. Human beings express their gratitude by performing different rituals and also pray for their safety and blessings. It also express our love for the natural habitat and inspires the being to value and conserve the natural resources.
This day is also celebrated as Bali Pratipada or Bali Padva. It is celebrated in regards of the victory of Vamana (incarnation of the Lord Vishnu) over demon King Bali. It also marks the coronation of King Vikramaditya as ‘Vikaram-Samvat’ was started from this Padwa day.
As the Earth travels around the Sun in its orbit, the north to south position of the Sun changes over the course of the year due to the changing orientation of the Earth’s tilted rotation axes. The dates of zero tilt of the Earth’s equator correspond to the Spring Equinox and Autumn Equinox.
What is it?
The Autumn Equinox is celebrated when day and night has approximately equal length. After this date, the North Pole begins to tilt away from the sun and evenings in the northern hemisphere becoming increasingly dark in the run up to the Winter Solstice. So on this day the tilt of the Earth’s axis is perpendicular to the Sun’s rays.
This event is not just a physical or geographical phenomenon but has various traditions and cultures associated with it throughout the world. It has a major connection to harvesting as the season in northern hemisphere moves from summers to winters.
For mystics, the cycles of the sun have their special significance. Going back to their most ancient origins, the various myths and rituals surrounding the solar journey are reflective of a universal process of spiritual change: the ascendency from the material to the spiritual, the struggle against inner darkness, and the victory of spiritual light.
This is a process that mystics aim to experience within themselves, on a personal level. It’s a universal process, not owned by any place or time but having clear and unique manifestations in many cultures throughout history.
In India this day has special connection with Goddess Kali. The divine mother goddess, symbolized as a female of great power, is a feminine aspect of each person’s own spiritual being. She has different roles, but in the autumn equinox her role as the one who fights alongside the negativity and destroys the egos. Kali is said to inhabit a cremation ground, which is the place where the egos are killed and destroyed in alchemical fire.
Thus this year Autumn Equinox falls on 23rd September, and may each one of us work on our inner being with the changing seasons and transform as a better being.
The monotonous tiring journey gets a halt, or the time to rejuvenate our body, mind and soul during the festive season. Festivals are a source to revive the feeling of togetherness and spread the aura of love and humanity around. It brings back the essence of realizing our true self and gaining immense energy from the vast Universe.
Navaratri are the nine days of joy, enthusiasm, fun and celebration to cherish the victory of good over evil. Literally ‘Nav’ refers to nine and ‘Ratri’ is night, so Navratri is the nine nights and ten days period to receive the powerful grace of Ma Durga. Navratri is celebrated twice a year in the month of Ashwin and Chaitra as per Hindu calendar, which are the season of revival in the nature. At this time our mother nature goes through the changes in nature from one season to another and inspires us to adapt to the similar qualities like them. Animals and birds hibernate, fresh flowers and leaves arrive, the entire nature is recycled in their own way to offer comfortable living to the beings. Mother Nature is the source of our rejuvenation process, similar to our birth mother who takes care of us and loves us selflessly. The festival highlights the importance of mother in our existence, therefore Goddess Durga is worshipped in varied forms to adore and praise her glories.
Goddess durga is the divya-shakti, which can be a bounty of love and care as well as the source of destruction too. She symbolises the power of divine mother as even the Gods pay homage to her strength. Adoring Ma durga during nine days by keeping fasts and worshipping her is the perfect way to realize our upmost goal and motive of existence, which gets blur in the magical world of materialism. The ten days celebration is the triumph of positive over negative by ending the existence of demons. Actually the demon refers to the increase in negative feelings within us that transforms us into ‘asur’.
So the ten malefic traits that mark the increase in devilish nature are as follows:
- Kaam (Lost)
- Krodh (Anger)
- Lobh (Greed)
- Moh (Attachment)
- Ahankar (Ego)
- Darr (Fear)
- Irsha (Jealousy)
- Jadta (Inertia)
- Nafrat (Hate)
- Paschataap (Guilty)
These qualities are won over by the individual in the ten days revival process and finally cherished by them to celebrate the victory of goodness. The tenth day is Vijaya Dasami or widely known as Dusshera, celebrated around India to express the feeling of happiness after attaining the positive strength and getting rid of ill powers.
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Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja