Navratri Day 4 | We worship the Goddess Annapurna, the Giver of Nourishment

Goddess Annapurna giving alms to Lord Shiva

Goddess Annapurna giving alms to Lord Shiva

On Day 4 of Navratri we worship the Goddess Annapurna.  In Sanskrit Anna means “food” or “grains,”  and Purna means “full, complete, and perfect.”  Therefore the Goddess Annapurna is known as the giver of food and nourishment.

She is truly beautiful to behold.  She is depicted as holding a golden ladle adorned with jewels in her right hand, and a bowl full of nourishing porridge in her other hand.  She sits upon a throne and sometimes is accompanied by Lord Shiva standing to the right side of her begging for alms.

The story goes that Lord Shiva told his wife, the Goddess Parvati, that the material world is an illusion and that all parts of it, including food, are also an illusion.  Parvati, who is workshipped as the manifestation of all material things, which includes food, became angry.  In her anger, and to prove the importance of material things, she disappeared from the world.  This disappearance caused the world to become barren and there was no food to be found anywhere.  All the beings on the earth suffered from hunger.

But being the mother of the universe, Goddess Parvati, couldn’t stand to see her children suffer for long.  She soon reappeared and set up a kitchen.  Intensely grateful for her return, Lord Shiva himself ran to his wife and presented his bowl begging for alms.  He said to her “Now I realize that the material world, like the spirit, cannot be dismissed as an illusion.”  Mother Parvati was so pleased she fed he Devine Husband with her own hands.  And so Mother Parvati became worshipped as Annapurna.  It is said that she will not eat even a morsel of food until all her devotees have been fed in her temple.

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