Embodying the “festival of lights”, Hindus celebrate the five days of Diwali with rich cultural traditions and rituals. The numerous diyas, the bright colors of rangoli, and the elegant Annakoot, all encompass the theme of transitioning from darkness to light. Through these festivities, Hindus not only have an opportunity to deepen their connection to their traditional roots, but also to look back and resolve to eradicate negative aspects from their lives in the forms of anger, envy, greed, arrogance, and resentment.
The fourth day of Diwali celebrations is called as Govardhan Puja, also known as Godhan Puja also known as Anna-Koot, which literally means ‘mountain of food‘, Anna meaning food while koot meaning mountain. A Celebratory Feast in jubilation over Lord Krishna’s humbling and defeat of Indra to protect the Vrindavan. On this auspicious day the people prepare fifty-six or one hundred and eight different varieties of delicious dishes to offer Lord Krishna as ‘Bhog’.
According to Vishnu-Puran, the people of Gokul commemorated a festival in honor of Lord Indra and worshiped him after the end of monsoon season every year. In his young years, Lord Krishna once prohibited the people from offering prayers to Lord Indra. Angered Lord Indra sent a torrent to sink Gokul. ‘Govardhan’ is a small hillock situated at ‘Braj’, near Mathura. Lord Krishna to ensure Brajwasis’r security and after performing worship and offering prayers to Mount Govardhan lifted it as an umbrella on the little finger of his right hand so that everyone could take shelter under. Thus, Lord Krishna protected Brajwasis from the torrential rains of Lord Indra, After this event, Lord Krishna was also known as Giridhari or Govardhandhari.
People make mountain shape with cow dung and worship it with flowers, rice, roli, moli, sugarcane, and other pooja samagri. Deities are given milk bath, adorned with bright attires and precious ornaments. Pious and Religious people prepared a variety of food also known as Chhappan Bhog to Krishna. With traditional customs and prayers, the variety of sweets and food is raised in the shape of mountain as bhog to deities. Worshippers take this bhog as Prasad after offering it to the god. This ritual is called ‘Annakoot’.
Anna-Koot : Mountain of Food
Sometimes also called just Padwa, there are different types of celebrations in different parts of India. In the North, cow dung hills are created and decorated with flowers to represent Mount Govardhan, which young Krishna lifted with his finger to provide shelter for everyone in his village.
This is a day when brothers used to go and fetch their married sisters to come home for the occasion of Bhaiya Dooj. Another tradition is “annakoot” which is “mountain of food.” People stay up all night cooking 56 or 108 different kinds of food to be piled together and then pieces are lifted to the Gods. Later people can take the food as prasadam.