By Swami Harshananda
Occurrence of Balipratipadā
Balipratipadā is considered as one of the three most holy days of the Calendar. It falls on the Kārttika śuklapratipad. It is also one of the three days of the Dīpāvalī (also spelt as Divālī) festival, or the festival of lights.
Significance of Balipratipadā
Rituals Observed on Balipratipadā
Worship of an image of Bali along with his consort, Vindhyāvalī, is an important aspect of the festival, especially for kings. Gifts given on this day produce manifold results. Worship of cows, bulls and the Govardhana hill is performed on this day.
Activities on Balipratipadā
An activity called Dyṅtapratipadā is also performed on this day. In this activity, a Mārgapālī (literally, protector of the road), or a rope of kuśa grass between a pole and a tree is tied across a road. Then people pass under it and play with a dice. These are some of the activities generally observed during this festival. A paurāṇic story of the game of dice between Śiva and Pārvati seems to be at the back of this practice of dice-play. Hence this day is also called as ‘Dyṅtapratipadā’.
Sometimes, a ceremonial tug-of-war is also arranged in front of a temple or the palace, between the princely class and the common people. As per the ritual, the common people always win in the end, symbolizing their collective power. Occasionally, images of Agni and Brahmā are established on a ratha or chariot and worshiped. The chariot is then drawn round the streets of the town. Hence this festival is also called ‘Balipratipadā rathayātrāvrata’.
- First day of the bright fortnight of the month Kārttika, generally in November
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore