Swamishri's presence is always a reason to celebrate.
Special days of festivals, then, are especially enriched with
joy and jubilation whenever celebrated in his divine presence.
And among all celebrations perhaps,
nothing arouses more auspiciousness and elation
than the end and beginning of a year.
This year, in the presence of HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the 3-day festivals
associated with Diwali, including the Annakut festival in the New Year,
were held in Gondal, India.
Bestu Varsh or New Years day (Kartik sud 1; 5 Nov. 2002) is the
first day of the Indian calendar year. It was the day when Lord Vaman
was granted three steps of land from King Bali. To fulfil the Lords
third step, King Bali surrendered everything and earned His eternal grace.
On New Years day, Bhagwan Shri Krishna stopped the tradition of
Indra puja in Gokul and introduced the ritual of offering fodder to cows
and worship to Mount Govardhan. Subsequently, Lord Indra (god of rain)
was angered and rained mercilessly upon the village of Gokul. But Shri
Krishna lifted Mount Govardhan with his little finger and like an umbrella
provided refuge and protection to the citizens of Gokul. Hence, this day
is also remembered as a reflection of Gods tremendous power and
the benefit of taking His refuge.
On the morning of New Years day,
mahapuja is performed in Swaminarayan mandirs, where devotees participate
to seek the blessings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the Guru. At 12 noon,
as a symbol of appreciation and prayers to remain God-centered, the deities
are offered a feast of food items called Annakut. A sumptuous and colorful
array of vegetarian items, decoratively arranged by the devotees and sadhus,
are devoutly offered to the deities.