Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Houston
Being closer to God has several privileges and advantages. We live at about ten minute driving distance from Swami Narayan Mandir – Houston. The temple is one of the great structures in the USA. The structure and sculpture bring the divinity and belongingness with God. The temple is also one of the deciding factors for us while buying our new home last year. During our parents’ six-month stay here, we visited the temple every Sunday to attend the evening arathi.
It is never a better time to visit the temple than during the celebrations of Deepavali and Annakut. This is the time when bhakthi and bhukthi come together and reach to its best during the year. Families celebrate one of the most sacred and important festivals, Deepavali. Traditionally this time of the year also coincides with the completion of the harvest. As an offering of gratitude to God for his bountiful blessings, the new harvest is first used to cook exquisite foods for the Bhagavan.
In BAPS Swaminarayan Mandirs ‘Annakut‘, literally a mountain of food is offered to God on this day. A vast array of vegetarian foods is traditionally arranged in tiers or steps, in front of the Bhagavan. The sweets are placed nearest to the Bhagavan. As the tiers descend, other foods such as fruits, grains, dals, vegetables, and various fried savory foods are arranged. A mound of cooked rice, symbolic of Mt. Govardhan, is placed in the center.
In all Swaminarayan mandirs, sadhus and devotees then sing ‘Thaal’ – kirtans composed by the poet paramhansas of Shri Swaminarayan. These kirtans list and glorify the food items in an aesthetic, rhyming and pleasant manner, praying to the Bhagavan to accept them.
Annakut arrangement starts early in the morning until 11AM. From 11 to 1 PM, melodious Thaal kirthan singing, followed by a grand arati goes on. Bhagavan and Annakut darshan are open till evening. Around 4 PM, the now sanctified Annakut prasad – sweets, fruits and nuts are distributed to the visitors and devotees, followed again by evening arati.
We went and had Annakut darshan for the first time today at Swami Narayan Mandir. It was really an impressive, pleasing display of food art. A dedicated devotee or food connoisseur for a feast, we can’t help but praise “Jai Swami Narayan Bhagavan” for blessing us with such wide variety of fetching food. I recommend Annakut darshan ~ A celebration of food.
Swami Narayan Bhagavan ki Jai.
Deepavali Celebrations at Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Houston
Annakut Neivedyam at Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Houston