What is Govardhan Puja, the Annakut celebration? Read
Govardhan Puja, also known as Annakut Puja, is a Hindu festival dedicated to Lord Krishna. It is celebrated on the day following Diwali, the festival of lights. The main focus of Govardhan Puja is the worship of the Govardhan Hill, a small hillock representing the mountain lifted by Lord Krishna to protect the residents of Vrindavan from the wrath of Lord Indra, the god of rain.
Govardhan Puja also known as Annakuta (mountain of food) is celebrated on the first lunar day of the bright fortnight of Kartik Month. In addition to worshipping Govardhan Hill, devotees prepare and present Lord Krishna with a wide array of vegetarian delicacies as a token of appreciation. This day celebrates the tale in the Bhagavata Purana, according to Vaishnavas, in which Krishna raised Govardhan Hill to shield the people of Vrindavan from the torrential downpours. This occurrence represents God providing safety to devotees who seek solace in him alone.
As a ceremonial commemoration and to reaffirm their trust in seeking shelter in God, devotees present a mountain of food to God, which is figuratively represented by the Govardhan Hill.
As per the legend, during seven days and seven nights, the seven-year-old Lord Krishna raised the hill with His little finger. The purpose of raising the hill was to protect all the people and animals of Vrindavan from the deadly downpour that was dispatched by Lord Indra, the "King of Heaven" and "God of Rain." He surrendered to Lord Krishna the moment he recognised His might.
The Srimad-Bhagavatam's tenth Canto recounts numerous of Krishna's pastimes. "The Lifting of Govardhan Hill" is among the most significant of these. In order to create a massive umbrella that protected all of the people and animals of Vrindavan from the destructive rainstorm that Lord Indra, the god of rain and king of heaven, sent upon their village, Krishna lifted Govardhan Hill in Vrindavan for seven days and seven nights, balancing it on the tip of his little finger. Lord Indra surrendered to Krishna after realising that only the Supreme Lord was capable of vanquishing him in such a mysterious manner. Large quantities of food offerings are traditionally prepared and arranged in the shape of Govardhan Hill to commemorate this event in Vrindavan. It is held the day following Diwali and is called Anna (grains) Kuta (mountain).
Rituals and celebrations:
Since then, Govardhan has grown to be a popular destination for Krishna devotees travelling to Braj. In observance of an ancient Braj custom started by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, devotees walk around the hill on the day of Annakut and present food to the mountain. Devotees make offerings of flowers and other items at the shrines along the eleven-mile route that make up the circumambulation. Others may spend ten to twelve days performing dandavats, or full body prostrations, around the mountain.
Using cow dung, families create a representation of Govardhan Hill, decorating it with tiny cow figurines and grass and twigs to symbolise trees and other vegetation. Fifty-six food items (chappan bhog) are usually cooked and offered in the evenings in the days preceding Annakut.
The custom is to provide a vast selection of vegetarian delicacies to the gods in steps or levels. It is customary to arrange sweets closest to the Deities. Other meals including dal, veggies, pulses, and fried savoury items are arranged as the layers descend. In the centre lies a heap of cooked grains, which represents Mount Govardhan. Hindus all throughout the world actively celebrate Annakut as a part of Diwali, and on the fourth day of the festival, they most often combine the Annakut celebration with the Govardhan Puja.