Annapurna meaning who gives complete food. As name indicates the Annapurna temple is dedicated to the Goddess of Food.Food is a part of human survival and so the creation of a Goddess to worship is human attempt to be free from the fear of food scarcity. Annapurna Temple is said to keep Varanasi City free of Food Crisis. Not only in Varanasi but also across India Annapurna is worshipped on various occasions and in various names. Mostly Hindu devotees worship Annapurna on Makar sankranti and on the home coming of new harvest from fields.
Location of the Annapurna temple :
Annapurna temple is located close to Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Vishwanath Gali at Dashashwamedha Ghat.
How to reach the Annapurna Temple :
Anyone can take an auto from Varanasi Cantt Railway Station to Kashi Vishwanath. Later walk to temple enjoying serpentine lanes of Varanasi City.
Opening time of the Annapurna temple is : 4:00 am to 11:30 am in morning and 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm at night.
Aarti Time of the temple is : 4:00 am
History of Food Worship : In this age, where farmers are facing hardships in India and consistently committing suicides and 2/3 of the world is facing hunger in some form worship to goddess of food is considerable thing. Worshipping Goddess of Food is more relevant for a nation whose economy is agriculturalist and agriculture is almost rain fed. In ancient times too, India was an agriculturalist country majorly dependent on food. Since food is prime resource for survival of not only humans but also of smallest creature of this world, worship of Goddess Annapurna is quite significant. Annapurna Temple is located close to Kashi Vishwanath Temple. On the occasion of Annakuta, which celebrated after Diwali, coins of various denominations are distributed among devotees and it is believed that whoever will worship these coins they will get prosperity and all the desires fulfilled. There you can enjoy crowed of pilgrims. The temple had a golden idol. In ancient times India was full of gold and silver so generally the sacred and luxurious things were given a gold structure. It is during foreign invasions that the country lost all the wealth and temples were looted by foreign invaders in religious intolerance. It is largely believed that Goddess Annapurna keeps Varanasi City free from hunger, famine and starvation.
Legend of Goddess Annapurna : As the myth goes, once, Lord Shiva described food as an illusion which keeps world tangled in its arrangement. This made Goddess Parvati annoyed. She decided to make Lord Shiva feel the importance of creation and food as a means of survival. She banished all the food from earth. People started starving. Earth became infertile. Then Goddess had to appear after seeing her devotees suffer in the Varanasi City as it is the abode of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva understood the matter and accepted that necessary things can’t be taken as illusion. Goddess Parvati was pleased. She made a kitchen here and offered food with her own hands to Lord Shiva.
From the time, devotees of Goddess worshipped her as Annapurna. Another myth about the Annapurna is, Once Mata Parvathi had closed all the eyes of the Lord Shiva (three eyes: Sun, Moon and Fire). So the entire world became dark. There was condition of apocalypse. The complexion of Goddess became dark. It worried Goddess Parvati. She asked Lord Shiva what to do to get her fair complexion again. Lord Shiva suggested her to distribute food in Varanasi City. Goddess took golden ladle and bowl and distributed food among devotees. She got her Gauri Rupa again means her fair complexion.
It is believed that people of devotees follow the same tradition.
There are various names of Goddess. It is not only Goddess Annapurna has several names but all the deities of Indian pantheon have several hundred or thousand names. There are various books written which presents names of Goddess. Annapurna Shatnam Stotram gives 100 names of goddess while Annapurna Sahastranam Stotram gives 1000 names.
It is said that goddess do not eat until all her devotees get food. Annapurna s considered the Queen of Varanasi City and Lord Shiva s the King of Varanasi City. Annapurna Vrat Katha offers a story of the Goddess which can help people get rid of food crisis. At noon temple offers food to beggars, poor and devotees as prasada of the goddess.
Present Relevance : The tradition offers a principle of mutual co-existence. The food prepared by temple to offer others is given as charity or bought from the money got in charity to the temple. Such traditions are a need of hour as the world is heading towards more capitalistic economies. Accumulation of wealth in hands of some people, make it hard for others to survive or even to fulfill their most genuine need of food. Such traditions in Indian culture are abundant and are aimed to make a more inclusive society. Not only in India but around the world such traditions are abundant but need protection be it in the name of religion or in the name of humanity. Annapurna temple presents a beautiful example of the Indian principle; let all be happy.