The day after Diwali, Kartak Sud 1, marks the beginning of the New Year. On this day, an annakut, or a ‘mountain of food,’ is offered to Bhagwan as a symbol of appreciation and gratitude. Devotees lovingly prepare vegetarian delicacies and offer them to Bhagwan while singing thal. People put on their finest clothing and head to the mandir early in the morning to participate in the first aarti of the New Year. Sharing sentiments of joy, people greet each other by saying “Nutan Varsha Abhinandan” and “Saal Mubarak.”
At BAPS mandirs around the world, thousands of vegetarian delicacies are prepared and offered to Bhagwan by children and adults. The largest annakut ever prepared has been noted by the Guinness World Records for being offered at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London.
Two spiritual references explain the origins of this festival:
- On Kartik Sud 1, Lord Vaman asked King Bali for 3 feet of land. King Bali pleased Bhagwan by surrendering the heavens, earth, and himself in the last foot of land. Lord Vaman offered to grant King Bali a boon. King Bali asked for Lord Vaman to guard his door in the underworld forever.
- By the end of the month Aso, the monsoon season ends. People bring home the fresh harvest and cook delicious food for Bhagwan. Traditionally, in Gokul the food was offered to Indra Dev, the God of Rain. Shri Krishna noticed this practice and questioned it. Shri Krishna’s father, Nandbaba, explained that since Indra Dev graces the land with rain and makes it fertile, food is traditionally offered to him. Shri Krishna told his father that Bhagwan gives people the fruits of their karma. He further explained that it would make most sense to perform puja of Mt. Govardhan who initiates the rain cycle and commanded everyone to act accordingly. When Indra Dev discovered that the people of Gokul were performing Mt. Govardhan’s puja instead of his, he was infuriated. Indra Dev threatened to drown Gokul in rain. However, Shri Krishna lifted Mt. Govardhan with his finger and sheltered the villagers from the rain under the mountain for 7 days.
- People offer an Annakut, which literally translates to ‘mountain of food,’ to Bhagwan.
- People wish one another a prosperous New Year by saying “Nutan Varsha Abhinandan” or “Saal Mubarak.”
- People pray to God for success in the coming year.
- Early in the morning, Hindus go to the mandir for the first aarti of the New Year.