MILPITAS, Calif. — The Bay Area Youth Vaishnav Parivar Oct. 22 celebrated its ninth annual Annakut and Govardhan Puja at the Shreemaya Krishnadham Temple with roughly 3,000 Indian American devotees taking part in the auspicious celebrations marking the start of the Hindu New Year.

The morning started with the Govardhan and Gau Pooja. For the purpose of Gau Pooja, a cow, which is considered scared in the Hindu religion, had been brought to the temple and was kept in an enclosed space.

Devotees lined up to pay homage to the cow and did parikrama to a small replica of the Govardhan Parbat. In the afternoon Annakut Darshan was opened up to the public.

Annakut is a mountain of food, specifically a mountain of rice, that is prepared and offered to Lord Krishna as a symbol of gratitude and love.

Sandip Shah, a volunteer with the BAYVP, told India-West that the theme of the Annakut celebrations this year was to recreate the Gokul experience. While doing the Annakut Darshan the devotees would get a feel of actually being in Gokul.

“For those who have not or are unable to visit Mathura, we decided to bring them the experience here.” Shah added.

As a devotee entered the main hall for the Annakut Darshan, they could almost be transported to the land of Braj, near Mathura where Lord Krishna spent his childhood.

There was a replica of the Govardhan Mountain, with the Shreenathji Temple on top, along with replicas of the villages and kunds of the area of Braj. One could easily see that a lot of attention to detail had been given by the team of volunteers who had spent a month creating the entire project.

“It’s not just an art project, there is a lot of knowledge of civil engineering and architecture that goes into creating something so intricate.” Shah told India-West.

The atmosphere in the main hall was divine as melodious hymns in praise of Lord Krishna rang through the hall.

Wherever one looked one could see the scrumptious sweets and other food offerings that were displayed beautifully and filled up most of the hall. The devotees dressed in colorful clothing and sparkling jewelry added to the festive environment.

The kitchen, which was being run by volunteers, was serving prasad and bhojan to the several thousand devotees who came to get their blessings.

“The volunteers have been putting in a lot of effort, they were here from last evening to 6 a.m. taking care of details before the Annakut Darshan opened up to the public,” Nitin Parekh, president of BAYVP, told India-West, adding that the Annakut Darshan was open to the public for the following week.

Amongst the attendees were invitees from the Hindu American Foundation, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangat, Jain Temple, India Community Center and Inter Faith Groups.

Nitin Shroff, a representative of HSS, told India-West, “This a very festive occasion and it is my pleasure to be here and do the Darshan.”

“The transformation and decoration inside the main hall was amazing. Every year they do something fabulous and spectacular,” Raj, of San Jose, who is a devotee of the Shreemaya Krishnadham temple, told India-West. “The volunteers put in a lot of time and effort. It’s very well worth it. It’s one of our biggest festivals.”

BAYVP is an organization that runs primarily by volunteers. The organization reaches thousands of people and holds around 50 events each year.

The purpose of the organization is to understand and spread the teachings of Lord Krishna as envisioned by Guru Vallabhacharya Mahaprabhuji. 

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