Govardhan Pooja And Annakuta
November 14, 2012 2 Comments
Annakuta is the fourth day of the Diwali festival, just the day after the main Diwali day. It falls on the first day of the fortnight of the waxing moon, also known as Shukla Paksha, in the Hindu month of Kartik.
This is a very special day for the devotees of Krishna, who celebrate it as the anniversary of the day Krishna instituted the worship of the Govardhan Hill.
Long ago,on the day after Diwali the residents of Vrindavan used to worship Indra. Indra was the demi-god in charge of rains and the people believed that unless he was appeased Indra would withhold the rains and ruin the crops.
Krishna claimed that a deity who showered blessings only when appeased was not worth worshiping. He suggested that they worship the Govardhan Hill instead. Govardhan means the nurturer of the cows and this name is most appropriate because the cows graze on the fertile grass that grows on the slopes of the hill. In addition, the hill protects the villages from the adverse winds and the trees on the hill provide various fruits.
All kinds of food were prepared for the celebration. The huge amount of food was taken in bullock carts to Govardhan Hill. Annakuta means “mountain of food” and aptly described the offerings taken to Govardhan hill. It is this ritual that is replicated in celebrations after Diwali day.
The complete story is given in Chapters 24 and 25 in the tenth Canto of the Bhagavata Purana -also called the Shrimad Bhagavatam. An enraged Indra tried to inundate Vrindavan; Krishna lifted the Govardhan Hill so that the people of Vrindavan took shelter beneath it and finally a hapless Indra had to apologize.
Annakuta is celebrated privately in homes and also publicly in temples.It is customary to prepare a small mount of mud and decorate it with flowers and other accessories. In some homes 56 different food items are prepared and arranged in a large plate or thali-Chhapan Bhoga. At around noon the thali is placed before an idol or image of Krishna, who represents the Govardhan Hill. Prayers are said to Govardhan Hill asking for his blessings and bhajans are sung in the deity’s praise. One of the more popular bhajans expresses the sentiment of a maiden who insists on going to the Govardhan Hill, even if no one accompanies her, because that was how Krishna decreed it. The bhajan lists several holy sites associated with Govardhan Hill.The day is marked by feasting.
In temples, particularly those around Vrindavan, the celebrations are on a much larger scale. The food prepared is arranged in the form of a hill. Devotees perform the “parikrama” or circumambulation around it singing bhajans and dancing with abandon. The food prepared for the occasion is offered to Govardhan Hill and then distributed among the devotees.