She is the goddess of nourishment, and she never leaves her devotees hungry. In Uttar Pradesh, she is also revered as the goddess of Kashi. Kashi or Varanasi is known as the city of light because the goddess not only nourishes the body but also the soul in the form of enlightenment. She provides us with the motivation to learn.
Goddess Annapurna Story
Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati used to enjoy a dice game. They began to play and the game became very interesting. They began betting. Shiva kept his trident, while Parvati kept her jewels. Shiva lost the game and his trident as well. So he bet his snake in the next game to reclaim the trident. He also lost in this game. He bet more and played more, but he kept losing. He eventually lost everything, even his begging bowl.
Shiva was humiliated and went to meet Lord Vishnu in the Deodar forest. Lord Vishnu approached Shiva and informed him of everything that had occurred. Lord Vishnu then instructed Shiva to restart the game. He told him that in the next game, he would make up for everything he had lost. Shiva followed Lord Vishnu’s advice and returned to the game.
Goddess Parvati became suspicious of Shiva’s unexpected turn of events, which led him to reclaim everything. She referred to him as a liar. This resulted in a disagreement between the two of them. Finally, Lord Vishnu appeared, unable to continue the fight. He explained that the dice in the game had moved according to his wishes and that they were only pretending to play.
Shiva responded by saying that everything materialistic was an illusion or Maya. Everything we had was a trick of the light. Maya was even in the food we ate. This enraged Goddess Parvati. She was not convinced that food was an illusion. She claimed that calling food an illusion was the same as calling herself an illusion. So, in order to demonstrate her importance to Lord Shiva and the rest of the world, she vanished, claiming that she wanted to see how the world would survive without food.
Nature came to a halt as a result of her disappearance. There were no seasonal changes. Everything became desolate. The lands were rendered infertile. Nothing grew any longer. This resulted in severe drought and a severe food shortage.
The Gods, humans, and demons all continued to pray for food. Goddess Parvati heard the prayers and could not bear the thought of her children dying of hunger. As a result, she appeared in Kashi (Varanasi) and began distributing food.
Shiva realized his error and that he was incomplete without Shakti. So he appeared before Goddess Parvati in Kashi, holding a begging bowl. He told her that he had realized his mistake and that food could not be dismissed as an illusion because it was necessary to nourish both the body and the inner soul. Since then, Goddess Parvati has been worshipped as Annapurna Devi, the Goddess of Food. It is believed that if food is prepared with a holy spirit, it becomes sacred as Annapurna blesses it.
The goddess Annapurna is shown holding a golden ladle in one hand and a jeweled bowl of rice in the other. The bowl of grain represents the abundance of food she provides for all of her children. She is depicted as sitting on a throne. She is frequently depicted with her husband Lord Shiva sitting beside her, holding a skull that represents his begging bowl.
The Annapurna Sahashranam mentions a thousand names for the goddess Annapurna. Her devotees worship her by the 108 names mentioned in the Annapurna Sahashranam Stotram, a hymn dedicated to her. The names portray her as a goddess who is complete and perfect with food, Shiva’s strength, and a provider of nourishment and strength. She is depicted as the supreme goddess of the universe, transcending Maya (illusion). She is the one who removes all fear and provides safety and security.
Devotees should recite her names with full devotion and faith in order to gain nourishment as well as knowledge. Also, before meals, we should thank Goddess Annapurna for providing nourishment and not allowing us to sleep on an empty stomach.
Varanasi is home to the most well-known Annapurna Devi temple. It is located in Visheshwarganj, 15 meters north of Kashi Vishwanath Mandir, 350 meters west of Manikarnika Ghat, 5 kilometers south of Varanasi Junction railway station, and 4.5 kilometers north of Banaras Hindu University. This temple was the location where she appeared and fed the hungry. Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao built it in the 18th century.
The Annapurna Devi Mandir is built in Nagara architecture and features a sanctum with a large pillared porch that houses the image of Goddess Annapurna Devi.
The temple contains two idols of Goddess Annapurna Devi, one in gold and one in brass. The brass idol is available for daily darshan, whereas the golden idol can only be seen once a year, on the day before Diwali.
Everyone who visits the Annapurna temple, regardless of religion, language, caste, or creed, is served a three-course vegetarian meal (excluding a dessert made from Dhal or Lentils). Male temple visitors must remove their shirts and, preferably, cover their shoulders with a towel or shawl as a sign of respect and humility in front of God. A person who visits the temple and worships the goddess with complete faith and devotion feels fulfilled and receives the goddess’s blessings, so he will never experience food scarcity in his life.
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