This day, the day after Diwali is also celebrated as Govardhan Puja in North India. Govardhan is a small mountain in Braj, near Mathura. On this day, people of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar build cow dung hillocks (to represent Mount Govardhan), decorate them with flowers and then worship them.
This festival of Govardhan Puja is in commemoration of the lifting of Mount Govardhan by lord Krishna. As per Vishnu Puran legend, people of Gokul village used to celebrate a festival in honor of Lord Indra (the God of Rains) and worshiped him after the end of every monsoon season but one fine day child Krishna stopped them from offering prayers to Lord Indra who in terrific anger sent a heavy deluge to submerge the Gokul village.
People being afraid that the downpour was a result of their neglect of Indra, started running and going berserk. 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 heavy rain. This gave him the epithet Govardhandhari (or simply Govardhan). After this, Indra accepted the supremacy of Krishna. And this day since then is celebrated as Govardhan Puja.
The day following the Amavasya (moonless night) is Kartik Shuddh Padwa and it is only on this day that king Bali could come out of Patal lok and rule Bhulok as per the boon given to him by Lord Vishnu. Hence, it is also known as Bali Padyami. This day also marks the coronation of king Vikramaditya and Vikram Samvat was started from this Padwa day. This day is celebrated on the next day of Diwali.
Gudi Padwa is symbolic of love and devotion between the wife and husband. On this day newly-married daughters with their husbands are invited in their parental homes for special meals and given presents. In olden days brothers also went to fetch their sisters from their in-laws home for this important day.
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 the cities of Mathura and Nathdwara, 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 (meaning offering) and then the devotees approach the mountain of food and take Prasad (as lord’s blessings) from it.