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Bless Thy Food

Annapurna

‘Vadani kaval gheta’ is a Marathi Shloka which we chant as grace before we start a meal. It means ‘Be grateful to God for serving you this meal. The act of eating is not merely filling the tummy, but it should be treated as an offering to the body and soul’. The ancient texts in Hinduism have Gods and Goddesses with various representations such as God of wisdom, Goddess of wealth etc. Annapurna is the Goddess of food and prosperity. Sanskrit meaning of Annapurna - the giver of food. Anna means "food" and purṇa means "complete".

Every Maharashtrian household has an idol of this deity in their shrine. It has a special place in every girl's heart. It is an avatar of goddess Parvati. On her wedding day, the bride worships the idol until she is invited to the altar. After the wedding, when the bride is ready to go to her new home, her mother blesses her with the idol of Annapurna and the groom with the idol of Bal-Krishna (baby Krishna). The purpose of these idols is to bless the newlyweds; Annapurna to bless the newlyweds with ample food and prosperity in their life, and Bal Krishna to bless them with kids. 

In the picture above, you can see the idol of Annapurna which was given to me as a blessing by my mother during my wedding. This Annapurna has wherever I have been (3 continents!). She has always blessed us, and I am sure she will continue blessing us for the years to come. I am grateful for all her blessings.

Being the Goddess of food, Annapurna always has a spoon in her hand. In Indian culture, the lady of the house is called Annapurna. Food prepared by her will always be delicious, as it has her love and blessings for the family. There is a certain protocol that we follow when we serve the plate. I will elaborate on that some other time, but the main item is salt. The reason behind salt being placed on the plate is very sensible. If any food item doesn't have enough salt, you should quietly add it for yourself. This is to show the respect to the lady who has prepared food for the family. You don't want to embarrass her by telling her that she has forgotten to add salt or haven't added enough salt. The ancestors who devised these rituals were very wise to have created these rituals for good reasons.

Traditionally, the lady of the house has been the one to cook food in the family. However, in the modern nuclear family, both the husband and wife cook for the family. Therefore, both are considered 'Annapurna'. When you are invited for a meal at somebody’s house; after a meal you are supposed to thank the host by saying ‘Annadaata sukhi bhava’. It means bless the person who just served you delicious meal.

It is also believed that the vibes and the feelings of the person who cooks the food are passed to the food. If we bless the food and are grateful, then what we have becomes enough and more. So, Bless Thy Food.

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