Vanabhojanam or Karthika vanabhojanam is a kind of annual ritualistic picnic undertaken during Karthika masam in Andhra Pradesh. As per Hindu tradition, plants are considered to be of divine nature and worshipped as Gods. Certain plants like Tulsi, amla, bilva and durva plants are considered as divine and used in Pujas.
It is widely believed that Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi prefer to reside under Amla trees during Karthika month. Hence during Karthika Vanabhojanam, amla trees are worshipped by the telugu community in Andhra Pradesh. People also offer puja to Lord Vishnu and recite the Vishnu purana and Karthika purana during Vana Mahotsavam rituals.
During Karthika Vanamahotsava, traditionally people cook food under these trees after puja and consume the food as prasad. Traditionally people had atleast one amla plant in their courtyard. But nowadays due to congestion in cities, people observe Vanamahotsava more as a cultural festival than as a religious event. Many organisations arrange for an outing on this occasion and perform the puja of Vishnu and have food in the nearby gardens.
Vanabhojanam assumes more significance in these times due to decreasing number of trees in the cities. The cities are turning into concrete jungles and there is lack of fresh air. The atmosphere is filled with various vehicle and industrial pollution.
An event like Vanabhojanam connects the modern society to nature and it is a good practice to pass on to the next generation. We sincerely hope this kind of events grow beyond borders and spread into all parts of the country. It adds more meaning into the celebration of Karthika masam in present scenario.