Govardhan Puja 20 October (Friday)
Goverdhan Puja, or Annakut or Annakoot (translated as “a mountain of food”) as it is also known, is a Hindu festival in which devotees prepare and offer a large variety of vegetarian food to the murtis of Paramatma(God) as a mark of gratitude, 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. Devotees offer a mountain of food, metaphorically representing the Govardhan Hill, to God as a ritual remembrance and to renew their faith in taking refuge in God. The festival is observed by many Hindu denominations, but is particularly prominent among the Vallabh Sampradaya (Pushtimarg), the Gaudiya Sampradaya of Chaitanya, and the Swaminarayan Sampradaya.
The Annakut festival occurs on the first lunar day of Shukla Paksha (bright fortnight) 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.
Govardhan Puja is a principal ritual performed during Annakut. Although some texts treat Govardhan Puja and Annakut as synonymous, the Govardhan Puja is one segment of the day-long Annakut festival.
There are many variants of how Govardhan Puja is performed. One ritual involves making small mounds of cow dung or dirt symbolizing Mount Govardhan, which are then adorned with flowers and later worshipped by circumambulating around them. Prayers are also made to Lord Govardhan.
Main Annkut Festival
In many mandirs, or Hindu places of worship, ‘Annakut’ is offered to the [Murtis], or 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. In Swaminarayan shikharbaddh mandirs, sadhus begin to arrange the Annakut in the morning and finish before noon.