Elaborate ‘Annakoot’ feasts mark Govardhan Puja in Braj

Govardhan (Mathura), Oct 21 (IANS) Govardhan Puja was held in a major way in most temples of Braj, with elaborate ‘Annakoot’ or community feasts with hundreds of dishes, including sweets, namkeens and vegetables offered to Goverdhan Parbat by devotees.

Govardhan Puja commemorates the lifting of the Goverdhan hill by little Sri Krishna to protect ‘Brajbasis’ from the wrath of Indra Dev.

This year Goverdhan Puja was held for two days, stretching up to Saturday.

“Govardhan”, meaning the nurturer of cows — symbolising Lord Krishna, is worshipped during the festival.

Goswami Nandan Shrotriya of Sri Mathuradheesh temple said a specially prepared brinjal vegetable called “gadd” was in big demand as part of the Annakoot.

Annakoot draws lakhs of pilgrims from across the world to the temples in Vrindavan, Mathura, where the devouts conduct the 21-kilometre “parikrama” (circuit) of the holy hill.

“Annakoot falls on the first day of the fortnight of the waxing moon, also known as Shukla Paksha, in the Hindu month of Kartik,” elaborated Pandit Jugal Kishor, a local priest.

The district administration has made elaborate arrangements for smooth traffic and maintaining cleanliness in the region.

“The weekend crowd from Delhi, Haryana, Punjab via the Yamuna Expressway was here and big feasts were held at most of the temples,” Jagan Nath Poddar, the convener of Friends of Vrindavan, told IANS.

Govardhan hill is, as per Hindu mythology, made of cow-dung and the community offers prayers at the hill with sweets and milk.

The immersion in the river or ponds takes place the next day on “Bhai Dooj”, said another priest, Acharya Madhukar Chaturvedi.

“These days, for convenience’s sake, replicas of Govardhan hill are made on bullock carts which can be easily towed to the river the next day for immersion ceremony with lots of music, dance and the customary pujas,” he added.

In Agra, the main celebrations were centred around Belanganj, Kamla Nagar, Balkeshwar and Jaipur House.

In view of the huge demand, the vegetable prices have seen a nearly 25 per cent increase.

“For preparation of the special sabzi called “Gadd” – a kind of mixed vegetable, the families buy a wide range of common and exotic varieties of vegetables. This leads to increased demand. Besides, vegetable markets also remain closed a day after Diwali, leading to further shortage,” said Acharya Chaturvedi.

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