Today we are celebrating Annakut at home. The whole community of friends and relatives eagerly wait for this puja at our home. Annakut is celebrated on the 1st day of Gujarati new year and also called Bestu Varsh. The day as per Hindu calender of the Vikram era is Kartik sud 1. As Hindu year comes to an end, families come together to celebrate one of the most sacred and important festivals, Diwali. Traditionally this time of the year also coincides with the completion of the harvest. Young and old join together to collect God’s harvest of bountiful blessings. As an offering of gratitude to God for his blessings, the new harvest is first used to cook exquisite foods for the Lord. Since may be more than hundred years Annakut is celebrated at our home. We have almost 150 odd close friends over for Prayers and then to take prasad(meal). It is said the 56 delicacies are made but if I am not wrong almost 75 odd things are cooked and everything is home cooked. And all those who have enjoyed this delicacies over the years can vouch that all the food cooked is delicious and tasty. All the food cooked is placed before the God and a mound of cooked rice, symbolic of Mt. Govardhan, is placed in the center. Everybody then sings prayers and kirtan praying to God to accept them. This lasts for almost two hours and then this sanctified prasad(food) is eaten by all the devotees. The amount of work that goes into making all the food and then serving to everyone makes me wonder how God gives us all the energy to do this. By the end of the day every one is just plain tired like hell.
There are three different versions as to why we celebrate Annakut. The first story goes that on this day Lord Baman asked King Bali for three strides of Land and King Bali pleased Lord BamanBamanji gave him a boon that this day will be remembered as Balipratipadaa.The second story goes that because this is when all harvesting is completed and all food grains are bought home people used to pray to Lord Indra – the God of rains for being kind to them and giving them enough rains during the monsoon because of which they had a good crop. God Krishna didn’t appreciate the idea of praying to Lord Indra as he believed that this was because of men’s hard work in the field and there was no need to please Lord Indra. Upset at this Lord Indra had flooded with rains Gokul to destroy it. God Krishna then lifted Mount Goverdhan on his smallest finger to protect everyone from the heavy rains. The underlying sentiment of this episode is that mundane factors such as house, wealth, mountain, trees or earth, in themselves do not have the power to protect us. Only the Lord Purushottam has the power to deliver us. Relative to His powers, that of the lesser deities pale into insignificance. Therefore it is better to accept ‘sharnagati’ (refuge) of the Lord Supreme and offer Him pujan. Over the ages, these sentiments have been consolidated by offering Govardhan puja. This is also known as ‘Annakut’, ‘Anna’ meaning food and ‘kut’, mountain.The third story goes that this 1st day of the year represents the day of happiness and joy. Lord Ved Vyas tells King Yudhisthir ‘O Yudhishthir, on this day of ‘Padvo’ (first day), the person who remains joyous will experience happiness throughout the year. The one who wastes it miserably, will experience misery during the year.’
What ever be the logic behind this but we in the family enjoy each moment of this and its really so heartening to see grand mom at 82 or Divyansh at 16 serving each and every guest with so much of respect and they love the delicious prasad