NEW YORK – An Annakut or a Grand Feast was offered to Bhagwan Shri Krishna, Shri Nathji, on October 22 at the Vraj Temple in Pennsylvania in the presence of more than 3,500 Krishna devotees who had come from as far away as Florida, Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto, Canada.
The celebration began at 10 a.m. with a Govardhan Pooja followed by circumambulating the temple which was accompanied by the temple singers and Vaishnavs.
Many of Vraj’s board members attended the Annakut Darshan, including the Great Grand Benefactor Trustee Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, the Founder and Chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media, as well as Vraj Paramarshak Pramod Amin, Vraj Chairman Vrajesh Desai, Vraj President Suresh Patel, Vraj Alderman Kiran Desai and Dipak Shah and Vice President Vijay Shah, who all addressed the assembly.
“This year we decided to decorate the temple with lights, both inside and outside and for the first time in history, it was actually warm during the Annakut celebration whereas every year it is always cold,” said Hasmukh Shah, a board member of Vraj, in a phone interview to Desi Talk New York, who also said that the weather brought more devotees than they were expecting.
“We were expecting about 2,000 devotees and more than 3,500 showed up,” he added.
The Annakut Darshan was managed exceptionally this year with devotees enjoying the variety in shopping, tasty snack items along with a cup of hot tea/coffee and a stroll along the Yamuna Lake during lunch.
The Annakut tradition began in Vaishnav temples ages ago, with the first one taking place for Bhagwan Krishna himself when he was only seven-years-old.
As mentioned in Shrimad Bhagwat Maha-Puran, as a child Bhagwan Shri Krishna was able to convince his parents and other elder residents of Gokul to stop offering tributes to the Rain-God Indra-Dev as he was always tormenting their livelihoods and instead make offerings to Mount Govardhan.
Upon hearing this, Indra-Dev decided to create a rain storm, so Krishna lifted Mount Govardhan allowing all the residents to take shelter thus convincing them that it is Mount Govardhan that they should make offerings to and not Indra-Dev.
This occasion marked the first Annakut which was offered to Shri Krishna by the residents of Vraj known as Vrajvaasis and taught them an important lesson which is to respect and preserve the environment and to have total faith in himself and no other God.
Today, the Annakut celebration extends beyond Vaishnavism and is offered within a few days after Diwali.
Vraj is a temple in Pennsylvania which was established in 1988 and is dedicated to Bhagwan Shri Krishna or Shri Nathji, whose more than 200,000 devotees make a pilgrimage to each year.
The magnificent Haveli for Shri Krishna is 60 feet tall, three stories high which features an assembly hall and an auditorium, able to seat more than 700 devotees at a time and is built on the more than 300 acres of land surrounded by the grandeur of the hills accentuated by the tranquil wooded valley, serene lush green meadows and placid Yamuna Lake, mimicking the spellbinding natural ambiance augments the glorious beauty of the Haveli built in the rich tradition of royal Rajasthani palace architectural mystique, according to a press release by the organizers.
Vraj was founded by Golokvasi Shri Govindkaka Shah and Vraj Paramarshak Shri Pramodbhai Amin along with a dedicated group of Vaishnavs who had a dream of building a ShriNathji Haveli at Vraj in Pennsylvania in 1988 and today Vraj has over 350 trustees and over 1,000 members of the Vraj Family that is growing and financially and morally supports several ongoing religious, spiritual, educational, social, cultural and humanitarian activities, said the press release.