In Sanskrit, the meaning of “Gau” is a cow. The name of the mountain which contributes to the conservation of the cows and to their continuous breeding is the Govardhan Mountain. The history of Govardhan puja comes in context when Lord Krishna suggests and guides general people towards the end of the Dwapar era to worship Govardhan Puja.
It is mentioned in the history of Puran, Lord Krishna’s Bal-Lila (acts during his childhood) were exceptional. That Bal-Lila not just fascinated the people of Gokul and all the people of that time but, even the king of heaven, Indra was fascinated by it.
At one time, it was the custom of special worshiping Lord Indra, the heavenly King, in the playground of Lord Krishna. People believed that Indra brought water to their society at that time. However, Indra, in fact, did not allow the rain to fall and caused misery to the people. Lord Krishna stopped the tradition of worshiping Indra and suggested that as the Govardhan mountain was the reserve of the entire heritage and it provides all kinds of natural resources including grass, wood, water, and minerals Govardhan mountain would be good for worship.
All the people of Gokul started worshiping Govardhana instead of Indra as he would not give anything to the worshiper when they were giving everything to him thus, made the decision not to worship ungrateful Indra from then onwards. But in doing so, Indra became even angrier with the people of Gokul and caused incessantly rain for a whole week, drowning the whole of Gokul.
Lord Shri Krishna urged all Gokul people to gather at the base of the Govardhan mountain with their children, flocks, and cowherds. Then Lord Krishna lifted the Govardhan mountain and placed it on his little finger by providing protection to all the people of Gokul under the umbrella of Govardhan mountain. Eventually, he even bragged Indras’ ungrateful attitude. Eventually, in the end, Indra himself had to be ashamed of giving unnecessary suffering to the people of Gokul in the name of power.
Since Lord Krishna suggested to worship Govardhan mountain, on Karik Shukla Pratipada it has been customary to do so this day by creating, making beautiful Govardhan mountains from cow dung and adore it with colorful colors, etc on every household. Religious scripture states that cows and bullocks should be used for sports or fairs, exhibitions, etc on this day. On this day, worships should be done for having more cows and its breeders, Gokul as a source of prosperity, Govardhan mountain as a storehouse of natural resources including grass, firewood, and water, as well as a catastrophic shelter, along with Krishna, Balram, Nanda, Yashoda, Gopal, etc, as augmenters of Gokul.
Govardhan, Gokul, Gopal are words referring to the respect given to cows in the society of that time. Govardhan Puja falls on the fourth day of Tihar (Yam Panchak) and on that day cow dung is made into an idol of Govardhan mountain and worshiped in every house. Cows and oxen are also worshiped on this day. This festival is called Goru Tihar, Hali Tihar, or Govardhan Puja.
Today, in the Newar tradition, there is a tradition of worshiping one’s inner self (soul) as a divine part. Today is also the beginning of the new year of Nepal Samvat (Nhu: daya: Bhintuna). On the night of Kartik Shukla Pratipada, one should worship Lord Narayan for getting his closeness, along with worshiping Danavir and the dedicated Baliraja also for his devotion and proximity to Lord Narayan.