Bali Puja, also known as Bali Pratipada, is performed on the first day of Kartik Pratipada, which usually occurs on the next day of Diwali Puja. Bali Puja coincides with Govardhan Puja, but there is a difference between them. Govardhan Puja is dedicated to Govardhan hills and Lord Krishna, whereas Bali Puja is associated with Demon king Bali.
Because of the boon conferred by the Vamana avatar of Lord Vishnu, Demon king Bali is worshipped in India during Diwali. As per the legends, Demon King Bali was pushed to Patala (the Netherworld) by Lord Vishnu in the form of Vamana Avatar.
However, as requested by King Bali, Lord Vishnu allowed him three days to visit the earth. It is believed that during these days, King Bali resides on earth and gives blessings to his people.
Religious texts suggest that the image of King Bali, along with his wife Vindhyavali, should be drawn at the center of the house, and should be adorned with five different colors. This five colored image is worshipped during Bali Puja.
In South India, King Bali is worshipped during Onam festival and the legend behind Onam is the same as that of Bali Puja in North India.
About King Bali:
King Bali was a generous and very ambitious person. People have loved him for their prosperity, well-being and happiness. He was the one who never discriminated on the basis of religion, castes or sex. Bali was exclusively devoted to Lord Vishnu and was considered arrogant and wicked in nature, for people did not love him. Because of its popularity, the whole god was enervated and even jealous. Soon, everyone approached Lord Vishnu to get rid of King Bali. Finally, Lord Vishnu came to Earth in the form of Dwarf Vamana, which was his fifth avatar of the ten. Lord reached the kingdom of King Bali and, as usual, Bali told Lord Vishnu to ask what he wanted.
Lord Vishnu replied saying you are the ruler of three main worlds like Earth, so would you give me the space that I can cover with three strides? King Bali agreed to his request and Lord Vishnu placed his first step on the entire universe. With his second step he quickly occupied earth and now the place where King Bali was standing left. There was no place left for Lord Vishnu to step, so King Bali generously offered his own head to step on. King Bali was quite brilliant and very well knew that Vamana was none other than Lord Vishnu. Lord within no time placed his foot on his head and he was soon banished to Patalaloka.
Lord Vishnu responded by saying that you are the rule of three great worlds like Earth, so you will give me space that I can cover in three steps? King Bali accepted his request and Lord Vishnu made his first step in the whole universe. With his second step, he quickly occupied the land and now the place where King Bali was standing on the left. There was no room for Lord Vishnu to take a step, so King Bali generously offered his own head to walk. King Bali was rather brilliant and knew very well that Vamana was none other than Lord Vishnu. Lord put his foot on his head and was soon banished from Patalaloka.
Lord Vishnu was so happy by Bali’s generosity that he granted him with a boon that he could return to Earth for just one day and spread happiness, love and wisdom. Along with a boon King Bali was also granted with the wish of becoming the next Indra. And that the reason why people lit lamps and burst noisy crackers on this day and welcome King Bali on Earth.
Lord Vishnu was so pleased with the generosity of Bali that he granted him with a blessing that he could return to Earth for a single day and spread happiness, love and wisdom. With a blessing, King Bali was also granted with the desire to become the next Indra. And the reason why people turn on the lamps and blow up the noisy crackers that day and welcomes King Bali on Earth.
Procedure of Puja:
# Picture of King Bali along with his wife Vindhyavali is drawn with rangoli and decorated with five different hues.
# Clothes, food and other necessary items are being donated and the day starts with oil bath and aarti.
# In the afternoon, Brahmans are invited for meals and on this day consumption of liquor is strictly avoided.
# People wear new clothes and worship Govardhan mountain. Idols of Lord Indra is kept and then worshipped.