Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Annapoorna-The Food Giver

It is a small brass figurine of a crudely moulded Goddess with no fine etchings or embellishments. It is present in almost every Hindu home, particularly in all homes wherever an ancestor may have undertaken a pilgrimage to Kashi. All pilgrims buy this figurine as souvenir . While some keep it in the pooja room, others store it away where it may lie forgotten for years.
I grew familiar with it since childhood as it was part of the assortment of articles of daily worship in my parental home. I did not like its popping eyes, and found it funny to see it holding a ladle.. My mother would make us recite prayers for all deities and explain the significance of each.-Lakshmi for wealth, Saraswati for knowledge,Annapoorna for food…….. etc.. But, I was only keen to do well in exams and therefore I fixedly prayed to Saraswati alone. After all, father would give money and mother would give food!! I need not worry on that score.I forgot all about Annapoorna!!

Years later, after I had assumed charge of household and my children, I happened to come across a similar figurine locked away in my father in law’s cupboard. Overcome by nostalgia, I cleaned it and placed it in the pooja room. The priority of feeding the family now being uppermost in my mind, I began to dwell on the significance of this form. As all of us know, Fate tosses all of us at times.Unfortunately, our family too unexpectedly plunged into a deep lingering financial crisis . At times, I was not sure if days of hunger were ahead. While brooding sleeplessly one night, wondering how to handle the hunger of growing children, I thought of this figurine. Without loss of time, I brought her to my kitchen, placed it reverentially on the kitchen shelf, and surrendered my kitchen to her imploring her to keep feeding us. Every morning, I recited the Annapoorna stotram before commencing the frugal cooking. As a gesture, I EVEN POLISHED THE LADLE as if making a bid to revive it.
Call it faith or coincidence, the all merciful Annapoorni Devi responded to my prayers and all through the 10 plus years of crisis, there was some food every day. Not a day, my children had to go hungry. Post crisis, I still continue to keep her ladle polished and think that this wide eyed figurine is the most beautiful and precious of all possessions.

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Thoughts and Voices by Radha Iyer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.