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The Annakut festival is celebrated on the on the fourth day of Diwali and is the first lunar day of Shukla Paksha (bright fortnight) in the Hindu calendar month of Kartik.
The five days of Diwali are:
- Dhanteras: it marks the first day of Diwali and celebrates prosperity or wealth “dhan”; Dhanvantari, the God of Ayurveda is also worshipped.
- Naraka Chaturdasi: On this day the demon Narakasura was killed by Goddess Kali and Lord Krishna
- Diwali: The third day is outer Amavasya with inner Poornima
- Annakut: The day is celebrated as Govardhan puja.
- Bhai Duj: Like Raksha Bandhan, the fifth day is dedicated to the sacred love between a brother and sister.
Annakut is also celebrated as the first day (New Year) of the Vikram Samvat or the Hindu calendar. As per Vikram Samvat calendar, 2076 starts today.
Annakut (anna means food and kut means mountain) is also known as Govardhan Puja.
On this day, as per the Bhagavata Puran, Shri Krishna lifted the Govardhan parbat (mountain) on his little finger for seven days to protect the residents of Vrindavan from torrential rains and thunderstorms brought on by Indra’s anger. Hence, on this day, people offer puja to the Govardhan parbat by preparing Annakut (different types of cooked vegetables).
A change in season occurs in the month of Kartik; today marks the beginning of the winter season.
There is a change in the availability of fruits and vegetables. On the day of Annakut, people cook all types of outgoing and incoming vegetables and eat them. It reminds people that this is the last day for eating these outgoing vegetables for health reasons.
Annakoot also emphasizes the importance of eating a mix of vegetables. It is traditionally said that one should include all seven colors and six tastes for a balanced diet. Eating a diet predominant in vegetables (bitter and green) helps to undo the imbalance caused by eating calorie-rich food during Diwali.
There is another dimension to Govardhan puja.
In mythology, Krishna won over the intellect- symbolized by the King Indra, the one who controls the indriyas and the senses.
The mistake of the Intellect is responsible for the disturbed state of mind. Even if the mind is under control the intellect can disturb the mind. It is the discriminative faculty of the mind and can be very destructive. It is the main cause of ignorance. External desires and the uncontrolled five senses are responsible for it. Kama, Krodha, Lobha and Moha are the causative factors.
Govardhan puja is the example of winning over the intellect. The same can only be done by one point concentration on the object of concentration. Krishna raised the mountain (the problem) on his one finger (one point determination) to save the people from heavy rains (turmoil of thoughts).
It means taking one point decision (one finger) whenever the mind is indecisive (mountain) with multiple possibilities (rain).
Only when the mind body and soul are purified after one month spiritual Yagna, from the first Navratri to Diwali, one can use the intellect to take one-point decisions.
Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
President Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania (CMAAO)
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Past National President IMA