Govardhan Puja:Holistic Celebrations of Annakut

Govardhan Puja:Holistic Celebrations of Annakut

The Govardhan Puja, also known as Annakut or Annakoot, is a vibrant Hindu festival celebrated on the first lunar day of the bright fortnight of the month of Kartika. It holds significant importance in various Hindu denominations, particularly in Vaishnavism. The festival is observed as an expression of gratitude towards Lord Krishna for his divine act of lifting Govardhan Hill to protect the villagers of Vrindavan from torrential rains.

Origin and Mythological Significance

Krishna’s divine act of lifting Govardhan Hill to protect the villagers of Vrindavan from torrential rains

Krishna’s childhood exploits in Braj are central to the festival’s origin, with the Bhagavata Purana (Srimad Bhagavatam) narrating the tale of Krishna lifting Mount Govardhan. The incident symbolizes God’s protection for devotees who wholeheartedly seek refuge in him. Krishna’s defiance of the traditional worship of Indra, the God of rain, leads to a divine act of lifting the hill to provide shelter.

Rituals and Observances

The festival involves various rituals, with devotees creating images of Govardhan Hill from cow dung. Families adorn these images with miniature cow figures and grass, symbolizing trees and greenery. Fifty-six food items, known as chappan bhog, are prepared and offered during the festival. Devotees circumambulate the Govardhan Hill, participating in a ritual established by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The festival fosters a sense of community as families come together to celebrate their faith.

Govardhan Puja: A Ritual Within Annakut

Govardhan Puja is a principal ritual performed during Annakut, with different variants of the ritual described. One variant involves creating a cow dung representation of Lord Krishna, decorating it with earthen lamps, seenkh, and candles. Devotees then worship the structure and feed it, followed by a fasting period for the ladies. This ritual is a symbolic reenactment of Krishna’s protection of the villagers.

Main Annakut Festival Celebrations

Annakut is celebrated as a part of Diwali, and Hindus worldwide actively participate in the festivities. The festival is an occasion to transmit religious and cultural values to children, seek forgiveness from God, and express devotion. Diyas and rangoli, decorative art on the ground, add to the festive atmosphere. Devotees offer a vast array of vegetarian foods to deities, with the festival being associated most often with Lord Krishna.

Record-Breaking Annakut Celebrations

The Guinness World Record for the largest Annakut ever held was set in 2019 at BAPS Atladra Mandir in Gujarat, with over 3500 vegetarian dishes. This achievement reflects the grand scale on which devotees come together to celebrate their faith and express gratitude.

Thaal and Devotional Hymns

In Swaminarayan mandirs, the celebration continues with the singing of thaal – kirtans or devotional hymns that describe the food items and express prayers to the deities. This musical offering lasts for about an hour and is followed by a grand arti. Devotees then perform puja and circumambulate the deities and the offered food. The sanctified food, known as prasad, is distributed to devotees in the evening.

Vishvakarma Puja: Reverence to Tools and Machinery

On the day of Annakut, some craftsmen pay reverence to their tools and machinery, observing Vishvakarma Puja. This ritual underscores the holistic nature of the festival, encompassing not only spiritual but also practical aspects of life.


In essence, the Govardhan Puja and Annakut Festival are a celebration of faith, gratitude, and community. The vibrant rituals, devotional hymns, and grand feasts contribute to the cultural richness of Hindu traditions. The festival serves as a reminder of the divine protection offered to those who take refuge in God, making it a cherished and spiritually significant occasion for Hindus worldwide.

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