Annakoot loot and Khekra are two unique rituals organized at Nathdwara temple town every year after Diwali where robbing and cow chasing is held religious
Udaipur : Amongst huge uproar, cheers and shouting slogans in the praise of the Lord, hundreds of the people from the Bhil (a tribe) community looted heaps of grains, prasad and other eateries that was spread lavishly at the main chowk of Nathdwara town near the famous Shrinathji’s temple. Crowds cheered and encouraged the robbers till late night, who fell over one other, snatched and strived hard to collect maximum of the edibles.
The tribal Bhil community thus once again was accused of robbing offerings but like every year, with great pride, the adivasis walked off with the bundles of looted food on the occasion of ‘ Annakoot loot’ orgainized after Govardhan Puja, which is celebrated a day after Diwali with much fervor. Apart from the locals, Vaishnavites and tourists from far and wide gather in large number to witness this ritual which had assumed a part of tradition since years. ” Govardhan Puja commemorates an event in young Lord Krishna’s life, when he lifted the hillock of Govardhan on his little finger to neutralise the anger and arrogance of Lord Indra, the Rain God” informed Hukumraj Purjari, a Vaishnavite temple priest. Bhils loot the religious offerings as a part of a traditional practice.
“After Govardhan Puja, Annakut (a heap of grain) is offered before the idol of Lord Krishna. In the past, indigenous people were not allowed to enter temples, but presently, they constitute an important part of the community. They offer prayers and loot the religious offerings, which incidentally has become an annual tradition here,” informed authorities from Nathdwara temple board. The looted prasad is believed to have remedial powers against ailments and the tribal community keep the edibles preserved and consume it the whole year after drying them till the next Annakoot loot.
On this day, the devotees offer food to the deity of Lord Krishna and pray. A heap of cow dung is also placed to symbolise the hillock of Govardhan and this is bedecked with flowers and worshipped by the devotees.As part of the religious festival, the devotees perform the Pradakshina (circumambulate) around this mould of cowdung, decorated with flowers.
“ Khekra” or the cow game is yet another unique tradition followed with much enthusiasm and devotion by the devotees here. The show stealers were the devotees dressed up as Gwalas (shepherd) and their bejeweled cows. Hoards of people standing in the by-lanes and terrace of the Mandir compound cheered on as the gwalas induced the cows to run towards them. The cows chasing and hitting the gwalas are also considered a blessing and the more one gets hurt, the luckier he is held. To watch this unique tradition, this year, Nathdwara witnessed a huge inflow of devotees as well as both domestic and foreign tourists.