This year, Annakutotsav was celebrated on Thursday, November 15. Friday, November 16th was the Hindu New Year’s Day. During the daylong event, people visited the temple and offered their prayers to God. Sunday, November 18 was the final day of the weeklong celebrations. At 10:00 AM, the saints of BAPS based in Atlanta performed Hindu worship ritual of Mahapuja. P. Shantmurti Swami and P. Amrutnandan Swami performed the Mahapuja for the well-being and peaceful life for all devotees around the world. A grand feast offering of various vegetarian dishes to God was the highlight of the morning. The offering of food to God, known as Annakut, is a way of showing gratitude towards God for the generosity He showers on us throughout the year. The ladies’ wing of BAPS Atlanta prepared more than 600 items and arranged the items in 1400 different dishes. This spectacular presentation of dishes arranged in front of the central shrine was a feast to the eyes. Incidentally, American holiday of Thanksgiving falls this week. The young girls’ wing of BAPS decorated the right side of the stage of the temple and created a beautiful New York City skyline in the background, reminiscent of a harmonious New York before September 11. The foreground consisted of a seven-pinnacled temple made with food cans collected by the temple members for the Thanksgiving canned food drive.
Lord Swaminarayan, in His holy scripture Shikshapatri, has taught His devotees to honor all forms of God. The center part of the display was decorated with various idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses sitting on lotuses floating in an artificial lake. Four dazzling water fountains also adorned the lake. Food items displayed on the seven elaborately-painted lotuses included freshly-cut vegetables, fresh fruits, rice preparations, dry fruits, cookies, and candy houses. All these items were prepared exclusively by ladies wing of BAPS. Over 3 months of planning and efforts of over ladies made this year’s Annakut a grand success. A strong group of youth volunteers initiated the task of developing this mammoth project under the guidance of Saints of the Temple.
After the Mahapuja, food was officially offered to God by singing several Thaals (hymns requesting God to accept the food). Everyone present participated in the traditional Arti (“waving of the lights” ceremony) at every hour of the day. This accommodated everyone, from young to old, to perform the Arti and offer their devotion to God. At regular interval, dramas and dances were performed by youths, and multimedia presentations were shown on festivals and BAPS activities. The highlight of the evening program was the blessings of HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj on this auspicious occasion via video presentation. Community members experienced the divinity throughout the day. Everyone was invited to partake of Mahaprasad – feast of food throughout the day. Prasad and new year’s calendars were handed out to everyone as they left with memories of the celebration.
Following are some statistics of the celebration:
Food items displayed, Thursday : 550
Number of Artis performed: 10
Food items displayed, Sunday : 600 in 1400 dishes