Govardhan Puja also known as Annakut Puja is celebrated as the day when Lord Krishna defeated God Indra.
Govardhan Puja also known as Annakut Puja is celebrated as the day when Lord Krishna defeated God Indra. Most of the time Govardhan Puja day falls next day after Diwali Puja, but sometimes there might be one day gap between Diwali and Govardhan Puja.
The best time for puja is during Pratipada Tithi of Kartik month. Govardhan Puja day might fall one day before on Amavasya day on Hindu calendar, depending on starting time of Pratipada. On this day food made of cereals like wheat, rice, curry made of gram flour and leafy vegetables is cooked and offered to Lord Krishna.
In Maharashtra the same day is celebrated as Bali Pratipada or Bali Padva. The day is celebrated as victory of Vamana, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, over King Bali. It is believed that due to boon given by Lord Vamana, Asura King Bali visits the Prithvi Lok from the Patala Lok on this day.
Most of the time Govardhan Puja day coincides with Gujarati New Year day, which is celebrated on Shukla Paksha Pratipada of Kartik month. For Vaishnavas, this day commemorates the incident in the Bhagavata Puran when Krishna lifted Govardhan Hill to provide the villagers of Vrindavan shelter from torrential rains. The incident is seen to represent how God will protect all devotees who take singular refuge in him.
As a ritual remembrance and to renew their faith in taking refuge in God, on this day devotees offer a mountain of food, metaphorically representing the Govardhan Hill, to God. The festival is observed by many Hindu denominations, but particularly the Vallabh Sampradaya , the Gaudiya Sampradaya of Chaitanya, and the Swaminarayan Sampradaya are more prominent.
The festival occurs on the first lunar day of Shukla Paksha in the Hindu calendar month of Kartik, which is the fourth day of Deepawali (Diwali), the Hindu festival of lights, and also the first day of the Vikram Samvat calendar.
The rituals surrounding Annakut are closely linked with the rituals of the five days of Diwali. While the first three days of Diwali are days of prayer to sanctify wealth and invite greater wealth in our life, the annakut day is a day of offering gratitude for Krishna beneficence. Although Govardhan Puja is known as Annakut, the Govardhan Puja is one segment of the day-long Annakut festival.
On this day, families create an image of Giriraj Govardhan (the mountain) from cow dung, adorning it with miniature cow figures as well as grass as twigs, representing trees and greenery. In the days leading up to Annakut, fifty-six food items (chappan bhog) are typically prepared and offered in the evening. This day is celebrated as a festival that paid respect to Mount Govardhan by preparing a giriyajna which is a great offering of foods and delicacies to the mountain.
Annakut is offered to the Deities, on this day. A vast array of vegetarian foods is traditionally arranged in tiers or steps in front of the deities. Usually, the sweets are placed nearest to the Deities. As the tiers descend, other foods such as dal, vegetables, pulses and fried savory foods are arranged. A mound of cooked grains, symbolic of Mount Govardhan, is placed in the center. They partake in the sanctified food after offering the food to the hill.
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