One sassy goddess
While sick at home this last weekend, blissed out in a Nyquil induced haze and streaming BBC documentaries as I dozed, I woke up in the middle of an Englishman monotonely mentioning ‘the goddess of food Annapurna Devi’ as a side note to his Indian adventure. I had never heard of her. Bleary-eyed, I grabbed my magic internet machine and looked her up.
In Sanskrit, 'Anna' means food and 'purna' means complete and perfect; together ‘Annapurna’ means ‘to nourish with food to the fullest’. Sounds good to me. Turns out she is an avatar of Shiva’s consort Parvati. In an attempt to spice things up, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were playing dice games and betting against each other. Shiva lost his shirt. Following the other-worldly bro-code, Lord Vishnu intervened and turned the dice in Shiva’s favor in a rematch. Parvati accused Shiva of cheating and Shiva denied it. After some serious carrying on, Vishnu claimed that since he was controlling the dice neither had really won or lost the game, so the game and the fight could only be illusions.
It here that Shiva pipes in and claims that not only was the game an illusion but that everything, even the food we eat, is an illusion. In an ‘oh no you didn’t!’ moment, Parvati argues that food most certainly is not an illusion, claiming “If food is an illusion, I too am an illusion.” Taking her toys and going home, she asks the Lords how the world would fare without this “illusion” and she disappears. With her gone nature came to a standstill. No seasons, no vegetation, no birth, no nothing. Soon enough there was severe drought and famine.
Shiva cries ‘uncle!’ and acknowledges that food obviously can’t be an illusion because of its nourishing power and Parvati doesn’t like seeing people go hungry so she returns. Shiva rolls up with a begging bowl and Goddess Parvati feeds him. From that moment on, Goddess Parvati is worshipped as the Goddess of food “Annapurna Devi” the symbol for the One who grants nourishment on every level.
She is generally shown sitting on a throne holding a blinged out gold ladle in her right hand and a bowl of porridge in her left.
Quite a gal that Annapurna. Just goes to show you, you should never get between a goddess and her food!