Gobardhan festival is celebrated on the sixteenth day in the month of
Kartika i.e. just on the day following
Diwali. Gobardhan means 'prosperity for cows' and seems to have its source in the Krishna cult.
On this day they deck their cows and cattle and rub oil on their bodies and horns. The cattle are fed first of all in the morning and they are given green fodder, oil and sugar. Cows are worshipped with the respect due to a goddess.
The Bhils of Malwa sing to the cattle some subjective songs, known as Heeda. Figures of Gordhan are made by cow-dung on the ground and a sequence of earthen lamps are placed near them. Three figures are usually made, two of which are named
Gordhan and the third one is called Chugalkhor Jamai (back-biter
son-in-law). It is interesting that these figures are made to be crushed by the hoofs of the cattle. Women treat the day as
Suhag Padwa (blessed day). While worshipping the Gordhan, women of
Malwa sing the Chandrawali song, associated with Krishna's romance. The theme-structure in this song is about
Chandrawali's husband, Gordhan.
The tribes like Gonds and the Bhumias play a passive part in this post-Diwali celebration. For the Ahirs, who were the cowherd community it is the day for dancing and rejoicing. They offer coconut and rice to
Kher Dev, the god of grazing ground. They also paint their cattle, trim their horns with tassels and put garlands of flowers and cowries around their necks.
In some villages of Gondwana the custom grazing of cattle is done on this day. The men who have vowed to do so for twelve consecutive years are called 'Mauniar'. During the day they must fast. They use a flute instead of a stick when driving the cattle to the grazing ground. They dress like men but wear feminine ornaments. The whole day they remain in the jungle, grazing the cattle and may return to the village before dusk. Then they hang their flutes up in the house, take off their ornaments, wash their hands and take their first meal of the day.
It is supposed that a man who has done this grazing on Diwali for thirteen years will be reborn as a cow, if after his death all the ceremonies and funeral feasts are properly performed.