Swamishri's presence is always a reason to celebrate.
Special days of festivals, then, are especially enriched with
joy and jubilation whenever celebrated in his divine presence.
And among all celebrations perhaps,
nothing arouses more auspiciousness and elation
than the end and beginning of a year.
This year, in the presence of HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the 3-day festivals associated with Diwali, including the Annakut festival in the New Year, were held in Gondal, India.
Significance of Festivals
Bestu Varsh or New Year’s day (Kartik sud 1; 13 Nov. 2004) is the first day of the Indian calendar year. It was the day when Lord Vaman was granted three steps of land from King Bali. To fulfil the Lord’s third step, King Bali surrendered everything and earned His eternal grace.
On New Year’s day, Bhagwan Shri Krishna stopped the tradition of Indra puja in Gokul and introduced the ritual of offering fodder to cows and worship to Mount Govardhan. Subsequently, Lord Indra (god of rain) was angered and rained mercilessly upon the village of Gokul. But Shri Krishna lifted Mount Govardhan with his little finger and like an umbrella provided refuge and protection to the citizens of Gokul. Hence, this day is also remembered as a reflection of God’s tremendous power and the benefit of taking His refuge.
On the morning of New Year’s day, mahapuja is performed in Swaminarayan mandirs, where devotees participate to seek the blessings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the Guru. At 12 noon, as a symbol of appreciation and prayers to remain God-centered, the deities are offered a feast of food items called Annakut. A sumptuous and colorful array of vegetarian items, decoratively arranged by the devotees and sadhus, are devoutly offered to the deities.