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'An­na­purna Jayanti' is an an­cient Hindu fes­ti­val which cel­e­brates the im­por­tance of food. This day com­mem­o­rates the birth an­niver­sary of 'God­dess An­na­purna', the Hindu God­dess of nour­ish­ment. She is one of the form of 'Par­vati', the wife of 'Lord Shiva'. An­na­purna Jayanti is ob­served an­nu­ally on 'Purn­ima' in the month of 'Mar­gashir­sha' as per Hindu lu­nar cal­en­dar.

‘An­na­purna’ is de­rived from San­skrit which means ‘the giver of food and nour­ish­ment’. ‘Anna’ means "food" or "grains" and ‘Poorna’ means "full, com­plete and per­fect". Food is con­sid­ered sa­cred as per Hindu Mythol­ogy and usu­ally prayers are of­fered be­fore con­sum­ing it. ‘An­nad­hanam’ which means dona­tion of food, is highly prac­tised in Hin­duism. The im­por­tance of ‘An­nad­hanam’ is pre­scribed in Agni Pu­rana, Padma Pu­rana, Kurma Pu­rana, Vayu Pu­rana, etc. The

‘Aga­mas’ de­scribe the im­age of An­napoorna as a youth­ful

God­dess hav­ing red com­plex­ion with a face round like full moon, three eyes and four hands. The lower left hand is de­picted as hold­ing a ves­sel full of por­ridge. The right hand is denoted with golden la­dle adorned with var­i­ous kinds of jew­els. The other two hands rep­re­sent Ab­haya and Vrata pose. Ac­cord­ing to Hindu le­gends, the barn of An­na­purna is al­ways full.

Cel­e­bra­tions and Rit­u­als:

On An­na­purna Jayanti, the God­dess is wor­shipped with all 16 rit­u­als which is known as ‘Sho­dashopachara Puja’. The An­na­purna Puja is an in­tri­cate and com­plex puja. The puja is con­ducted with the mantras, flow­ers, fruits and es­pe­cially with food grains. A small man­dap is cre­ated by devo­tees in their re­spec­tive houses and an idol of God­dess An­na­purna is kept at the place of wor­ship. God­dess An­na­purna’s ab­hishekam is done on this day. ‘An­na­purna Devi Ash­takam’ is also re­cited. Women gen­er­ally keep a fast and do not eat or drink any­thing through­out the day. The fast is bro­ken at night af­ter wor­ship­ping the God­dess. God­dess An­na­purna is wor­shipped with fresh fruits, food grains and rice for five days.

An­na­purna Jayanti Story:

Shiva was talk­ing about the il­lu­sions in the world and in­cluded food as part of the il­lu­sion. An­gered by his words, God­dess Par­vati dis­ap­peared from the world. As a re­sult, there were no changes in the sea­son. This made the earth bar­ren. Drought and hunger be­came prom­i­nent ev­ery­where. All of them be­gan pray­ing for help. Par­vati was over­come with com­pas­sion and reap­peared in Kashi. Lord Shiva, on learn­ing of her re­turn, rushed to her with a beg­ging bowl and con­ceded that the ma­te­rial world, could not be dis­missed as an il­lu­sion. A smil­ing Par­vati fed Shiva with her own hands and re­plen­ished the food on the earth. An­na­purna Jayanti falls on 3rd of De­cem­ber 2017 (Sun­day). Purn­ima (full moon day) Tithi Be­gins at 02:27 on 3rd Dec, 2017 and Purn­ima Tithi Ends at 22:47 on 3rd Dec, 2017.

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