Annapurna or Annapoorna in Sanskrit means the giver of food and nourishment. She is the Hindu goddess of nourishment. Anna means “food” or “grains”. Purna means “full, complete and perfect”.
Annapurna is the Hindu Goddess of food and cooking. Annapurna is empowered with the ability to supply food to an unlimited amount of people.
Annapurna is the incarnation of the Hindu Goddess Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva. Temple art in India depicts Lord Shiva with his begging bowl, asking Annapurna to provide him food that gives the energy to achieve knowledge and enlightenment.
As such, Annapurna also symbolizes the divine aspect of nourishing care. The cook provides his guest with the energy to best follow their destiny. When food is cooked with a spirit of holiness, it becomes alchemy. Images of Annapurna are also found in kitchens, near dinner tables and in restaurants.
The Story of Parvati as Annapurna
Goddess Parvati was told by her consort Lord Shiva that the world is an illusion and that food is a part of this illusion called Maya. The Divine Mother who is worshiped as the manifestation of all material things, including food, became angry. To demonstrate the importance of her manifestation of all that is material, she disappeared from the world. Her disappearance brought time to a standstill and the earth became barren. There was no food to be found anywhere, and all the beings suffered from the pangs of hunger.
Seeing all the suffering, Mother Parvati was filled with compassion and reappeared in Kasi, India and set up a kitchen. Hearing about her return, Lord Shiva ran to her and presented his bowl in alms, saying, “Now I realise that the material world, like the spirit, cannot be dismissed as an illusion.” Goddess Parvati smiled and fed Lord Shiva with her own hands.
Since then Goddess Parvati is worshiped as Annapurna, the Goddess of Nourishment.