“Pilgrims from different parts of the country participate in these celebrations as a family,” Govardhan Peethadheshwar Krishna Das Kanchan Maharaj said.
Legends have it that after Lord Krishna killed demon Arishtasura, the residents of Brajbhumi lit earthen lamps on the day of Diwali to celebrate his victory. Continuing with the belief, pilgrims reach the Govardhan hillock here and light earthen lamps on the bank of Manasi Ganga to mark the festival.
“Though earthen lamps are also lit in every temple at Sri Krishna Janmasthan, a mass earthen lamp lighting program is organized on the day of Diwali,” Secretary of Sri Krishna Janmasthan Kapil Sharma said.
Another festival that accompanies Diwali is Govardhan Puja, which has a special significance for the people here. “Lord Krishna protected Brijwasis by lifting hillock Govardhan on his little finger for saving them from the wrath of Lord Indra who had ordered clouds to drown Brijwasis since they had stopped paying obeisance to him,” said Swami Avashesh of an ashram in Vrindavan.
“After this, Brajwasis offered variety of dishes and did a circumambulation of the Govardhan to pay obeisance. Since then, the custom of circumambulating Govardhan hillock is continuing,” he said.
On the day of Govardhan Puja (next day after Diwali), pilgrims perform Govardhan parikrama and eat prasad at the Daan Ghati temple and other temples. On this auspicious day, devotees carry bhoga to Govardhan hill in a procession from the Gaudiya Math temple in Govardhan town.
Another festival that is celebrated here is Yama Dvitiya which is observed on the second day after Diwali. On the occasion, brothers and sisters bathe together in the Yamuna at Vishram Ghat.
“Pleased by the hospitality of his sister Yamuna on this day, the Lord of Death Yamaraj gave her the blessing that brothers and sisters bathing together in the Yamuna on this auspicious day will not be bothered by his messengers and they will go straightaway to heaven,” said the priest of the Daan Ghati temple, Mathura Prasad Kaushik.
Dhan Teras and Narak Chaudas are the two other festivals celebrated in the run up to Diwali.