The day after Diwali, as per the Hindu ‘Vikram’ calendar, marks the start of a new year. It is celebrated in BAPS Swaminarayan Mandirs around the world with an ‘Annakut’, an offering of various varieties of food specially prepared for the occasion.
This year, Shri Harikrishna Maharaj (Thakorji) and HH Pramukh Swami Maharaj graced the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Ahmedabad with their presence on this auspicious day.
The first arti of the year at the Ahmedabad mandir was the Mangla Arti at 5:30am, followed by the abhishek of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. A grand mahapuja was conducted by senior sadhus with the participation of devotees. Pujya Viveksagar Swami and Pujya Doctor Swami blessed the audience with their addresses.
Sadhus and volunteers had worked for the past few days to prepare the food and decorations, which were arranged artistically in the mandir. The food items ranged from traditional vegetable preparations and curries from all regions of India; snacks such as chaat and namkeens from North India and farsan from Western India; some vegetarian items from other countries such as Mexico and China; desserts such as ice creams and puddings with soups and fresh juices; sweets and savouries such as shrikhand, jalebi and basundi; bakery items such as biscuits and breads; decoratively carved fresh fruits and freshly prepared salads, and many other items, all prepared as per Swaminarayan vegetarian principles with cleanliness and hygiene. A total of 1,252 different varieties of such items was served in the mandir to the deities.
Swamishri performed the Annakut Arti in the mandir to the Deities and the murti of Nilkanth Varni installed in the center of all the food items. He then visited the sabha hall to grace the New Year Assembly, where all the thousands of gathered devotees sang the prayer, ‘Mahabalvant maya tamari…’ in unison.
The Annakut – literally, ‘mountain of food’ – is a devout offering of the first meal of the New Year as a symbol of gratitude to God and to seek His blessings. Swamishri and the sadhus prayed for all devotees to be able to progress spiritually in the new year, with greater bhakti towards Bhagwan Swaminarayan.