Annapurna or Annapoorna is the goddess of food and nourishment in Hinduism.

Worship and offering of food are highly praised in Hinduism and therefore, the goddess Annapurna is regarded as a popular deity.

She is an avatar (form) of Parvati, the wife of Shiva, and is eulogized in the Annada Mangal, a narrative poem in Bengali by Bharatchandra Ray.

The Annapurna Sahasranam is dedicated to the goddess and praises her one thousand names while the Annapurna Shatanama Stotram is dedicated to her 108 names.

A few temples exist that are dedicated to her, the most prominent being the Annapurna Devi Mandir and the Kasi Viswanath Temple in Varanasi.

Since Akshaya Tritiya is considered to be the birthdate of the goddess Annapurna, the day is believed to be very auspicious for buying gold jewelry.

Legend

One day, Shiva and Parvati got into an argument about the importance of Prakriti, which Shiva denied, stressing on the superiority of Purush (male) over Prakriti (Mother Nature).

Enraged, Parvati abandoned him and disappeared. With Parvati’s disappearance, the world was deprived of food and there occurred a famine.

When Shiva’s followers started begging him for food, Shiva took a begging bowl and went from door to door begging for food. But no one had anything to offer, for those whom Shiva begged from themselves were affected. Shiva and his followers came to know that on earth, there is only one kitchen in the city of Kashi where food is still available.

Shiva went to Kashi to beg for food, but to his surprise, the kitchen was owned by none other than his wife Parvati, but in a different form. She wore celestial purple and brown garments and was lightly adorned with ornaments, and she was seated on a throne, serving and distributed food to starving Gods and hungry inhabitants of the earth, one after another. She also offered food to her sons Kartikeya and Ganesh as well.

This beautiful form of Parvati was none other than Goddess Annapurna Devi, who is full and complete. Annapurna offered her food as alms to Shiva and made Him realize that as Brahman, Shiva might have outgrown hunger; but his followers haven’t.

There is another legend which says Trimurti once had heated argument who among them is greatest each saying his achievements when Mahadevi heard their argument she decided to teach them a lesson and disappeared causing severe feminine, as a result, no yajnas were done and devas started growing weak and asked Trimurti for food then Lord Vishnu said to Lord Shiva:

” O Mahadev it was true what you said after Devi disappeared universe became weak; I heard a lady in Kashi started donating food for people.”

At once Lord Shiva understood that the lady was none other than Jagadamba and went to Kashi in disguise of a mendicant and begged food from Devi for Devas. Devi happy that Devas had learned their lesson said to Mahadev

” I shall reside here in Kashi in form of Annapurna.”

Literary sources

The goddess mentioned in Hindu religious texts such as the Rudrayamala, Sivarahasya, Annapurnamantratsava, Maha Tripurasiddhanta, Annapurna Kavacha, Annapurnahavamti, Annapurnamalininaksatramalika, and Bhairvahyantantra.

Kumara Sambhavam by Kalidasa makes vivid mention about Varanasi and the deity Annapurna. The goddess is also described as the source of knowledge and the main deity in the Annapurna Upanishad, which is considered a minor Upanishad among the 108 Upanishads. In this text, praying to Annapurna is the means by which the sage Ribhu attains knowledge.

Devi Bhagavata written during the 3rd and 4th centuries CE refers to Annapurna as the goddess of Kanchipuram and Visalakshi as the goddess of Varanasi.

Skanda Purana written during the 7th century states the sage Vyasa was led to Varanasi by a curse and Annapurna came as a housewife and offered him food.

Linga Purana mentions that Siva was begging for food for his children as he could not get food in the world due to a miracle created by his consort Parvati. Parvati came out as Annapurna and offered food to Shiva at his doorsteps. The legend of Kasi Viswanath Temple in Varanasi is associated with the story that Siva built the temple there in her honor.

Adi Sankara (8th century), the proponent of Advaita school of Hinduism, has written Annapurna Stotra, a book glorifying the deity.

The mention of Annapurna is also found in Kumara Sambhava, a Telugu literature, by Nannechola, a Saiva poet of the 12th century. There is also a mention of the deity in Kasikhanda by Srinatha, a Telugu poet of the 13th century.

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