'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.