The Origins and Myths of Goddess Annapurna

In Hinduism, lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati denote the masculine and feminine dynamics of divine consciousness respectively. According to Hindu Dharma, the universe is made of multiple vibrations of both male and female energy. The primordial male energy is Shiva and the primordial female energy is Shakti or Parvati. That’s why Goddesses are as powerful as Gods in Hinduism, and sometimes even more. 

Shiva and Parvati are akin to yin and yang, eternally connected in the sacred celestial balance constituting the Divine whole. 

That’s why Hindu Goddesses have such a diverse spectrum of traits and functionality. Each Goddess in the Hindu pantheon of Goddesses fulfills a specific function in society. Goddess Annapurna or Devi Annapurna is the Goddess of food and nourishment. Her function is to ensure everyone in the society has enough food for their nourishment and sustenance. 

Devi Annapurna is like a benevolent mother who ensures that none of her children ever go to bed hungry. That’s why in many Indian households, freshly prepared food is first offered to the Gods and Goddesses before being consumed by humans. Some families also have the tradition of keeping a portion for Gau mata ( Mother Cow) each time they prepare a meal. 

It is believed that if food is cooked with utmost purity, devotion, and holiness in heart, it becomes pure as it is now blessed by devi Annapurna. 

Significance of Goddess Annapurna 

The name Annapurna is derived from two words – Anna meaning food and Purna meaning whole or complete. That’s why Devi Annapurna is the Goddess of nourishment, and is often associated with the kitchen. 

Annapurna origin
Suraj Belbase, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As with every Goddess of Hinduism, Goddess Annapurna’s immediate function is also symbolic of a much deeper one. She is the Goddess of both material and spiritual nourishment. Just as food nourishes the human body and keeps one in good health, it also nourishes the soul and keeps it enlightened with knowledge and wisdom. 

That’s why Annapurna is considered the Goddess of the city of Kashi or Varanasi in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Kashi is considered the city of Moksha or salvation for Hindus. It has deep spiritual significance for practicing Hindus. Similarly, it is believed that Annapurna Devi opens the door of Moksha or salvation. 

Devi Annapurna is an avatar of Goddess Parvati. She is known by other names such as Visalakshi (one who has large eyes), Bhuvanesvari (goddess of earth), Annada (donor of food), or Renu (goddess of the atom).

 She is also considered a source of knowledge, similar to Goddess Saraswati. Annapurna, a dangerous and magnificent mountain range in Nepal, is named after the Goddess.

Goddess Annapurna Origins

The Goddess is said to be one of the daughters of King Himavat (the king of the Himalayas). In this sense too, she is known as the manifestation of Goddess Parvati.

According to another legend, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati once had a disagreement. They were arguing about the material world. Lord Shiva was saying that everything materialistic in  the world including food was an illusion. On the contrary, Goddess Parvati was arguing that materialistic things had their importance too.

But Lord Shiva kept saying that everything one possessed in this world was just a manifestation of Maya(illusion). Infuriated, Parvati thus disappeared saying she wanted to see how the world would survive without food. After this, Goddess Parvati disappeared. As soon as she disappeared, the whole cycle of nature came to a standstill. The lands got barren and infertile. There was famine all around. Even the Gods and Goddesses were out of food.

 Lord Shiva, too,went out begging for food and reached the city of Varanasi. There he reached a kitchen, from which Goddess Parvati emerged as Annapurna. She offered food to Lord Shiva. Finally, Lord Shiva and others realized their error that without Shakti, they are nothing. He called Varanasi the “Kitchen of the Earth.” Then to honor her, Lord Shiva built a temple in Varanasi, which is today known as Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Even today, food is provided free of cost to the poor, the elderly, and the differently abled in this holy city.

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Devi Annapurna Representation

 Devi Annapurna is depicted as a youthful goddess. As a result, her face is shown round like the full moon, with high breasts and a radiant complexion. She has three eyes and four hands. Her lower left hand contains a vessel full of porridge. The right hand has a golden ladle adorned with jewelry. 

The other two hands are shown in the mudras abhaya (fearless) and varada (boon distribution). She is portrayed seated on a throne with a crescent moon on her head. In some of the paintings, Lord Shiva is shown standing to her right with a begging bowl.

The iconography of Devi Annapurna symbolically implies that her devotees will never run out of food. One can find images of Goddess Annapurna decorating the walls of traditional kitchens, restaurants, and dining areas in India. 

In some representations, Devi Annapurna is shown holding a scripture – Akashmala and opener of doors of salvation in her hands instead of a container and ladle. This iconography is used to show that she is not just the Goddess of physical nourishment but also spiritual salvation. 

Legends of Goddess Annapurna

 There is an alternative story regarding the disappearance of goddess Parvati and the emergence of goddess Annapurna. According to this story, the Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu & Shiva) were arguing over who among them was the greatest. After hearing their arguments, Goddess  Parvati decided to show them her importance.

 So, she disappeared, taking all the food with her. As a result, rituals stopped being performed, as food is essential for the ritual. Moreover, the Gods begin to wane as a result of all this. They went to Trimurti for help. Trimurti in turn turned to Lord Shiva. Lord Vishnu told Lord Shiva that there was a woman in Kashi ( the city of Varanasi) donating food. 

Lord Shiva immediately went to Kashi as a beggar to ask for food for the world. Goddess Parvati was glad that they realized the importance of her and the nature that she symbolized. She offered Lord Shiva food and told him that she would reside in Kashi in the form of Annapurna.

 According to another legend, Sage Vyasa was once under a curse. And he was directed to Varanasi to cure his curse. There, Goddess Annapurna showed up as a housewife and gave him food. After getting this boon, his curse was lifted.

It is also believed that devi Annapurna doesn’t consume a single morsel of food until all her devotees have been nourished and fed. 

There is also an interesting story about lord Ram praying to Goddess Annapurna before proceeding to Ravana’s Lanka. Legend has it that he requested the Goddess to eliminate the hunger of the vaanar sena (lord Ram’s army of divine monkeys). Devi Annapurna then helped control the hunger of the vaanar sena and blessed them to be victorious. 

Manifestations of Devi Annapurna

Devi Annapurna is known by a thousand names that are mentioned in the Annapurna Sahashranam. 

Her devotees often address her by the 108 names mentioned in the Annapurna Sahashranam Strotam, a hymn dedicated to the Goddess. 

A few other names of Devi Annapurna are 

  1. Visalakshi: one who has large eyes.
  2. Visvashakti: the world power
  3. Vishvamata: Mother of the world
  4. Srstihetukavaradani: one who bestows blessings for the sake of the world.
  5. Bhuvaneshwari: goddess of the earth
  6. Renu: goddess of the atom
  7. Annada: donor of food.


Beautiful statues of Goddess Annapurna with her husband, Lord Shiva.
Sssxccal, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

 In Hinduism, giving or offering food is highly praised. As the Goddess literally represents the fulfillment of food, she is highly worshiped in every household. In India, a daughter-in-law is often called Annapurna out of respect. It is believed that if food is cooked in the spirit of holiness, it becomes sacred with the blessing of the Goddess.

 There are several temples dedicated to her, but the most important one is Annapurna Devi Mandir in Varanasi. Her birthday is considered an auspicious day, and people buy gold. They offer her rice and grains along with prayers.

 She is considered Visvashakti (world power) and Vishvamata (mother of the world) by her devotees. According to her devotees, the Goddess doesn’t only provide nourishment to the body but also to the soul. She gives energy to attain knowledge and, hence, enlightenment, which brings moksha closer. So, she gives blessings for nourishment, wisdom, and renunciation.

Festivals dedicated to Devi Annapurna 

Akshay Tritiya 

In Hinduism, the auspicious occasion of Akshay Tritiya is considered the birthdate of Devi Annapurna. 

The date for the festival changes every year depending on the lunisolar of the Hindu calendar. As per the Gregorian calendar, it falls in April or May every year. 

Akshay Tritiya is a very auspicious occasion for Hindus. Buying gold and other valuables on this day is considered highly auspicious, and believed to usher in good fortune and success into the household. 

Akshay Tritiya is also considered an enormously lucky occasion to start a new venture, celebrate a wedding or buy something significant like a vehicle or property. 

Annapurna Jayanti 

It’s an ancient Hindu festival that observes the importance of food for sustaining life on earth. 

Annapurna Jayanti is celebrated on the full moon day of the month of Margashirsha( usually in December). 

On this auspicious day, devotees pay homage to Devi Annapurna with utmost sincerity, commitment, and devotion. The puja rituals for the worship of Goddess Annapurna are performed mostly by women. 

Hinduism has so many diverse customs and traditions and for some festivals, there is no universally accepted one way to celebrate them. It’s the same with Annapurna Jayanti. It’s celebrated with myriad traditions and customs across the country. 

Mostly, devotees perform the puja by following all the relevant rituals, reciting mantras, and having fruits, flowers and various kinds of food grains. Goddess Annapurna is usually worshipped with fresh fruits, food grains, and rice. 

Since Annapurna Devi is the Goddess of food, the kitchen is the site of worship in some households on this day. It is said that the kitchen should be kept spotless clean on this day and the whole house should be purified by sprinkling Ganga water.

Various temples in Allahabad, Varanasi, Haridwar, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha, etc. celebrate Annapurna Jayanti. 

Goddess Annapurna Temples 

The most important temple dedicated to Devi Annapurna in India is the Annapurna Devi Mandir (temple)in the city of Varanasi. 

Constructed in the 18th century by Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao, the temple is said to be located at the very place she appeared and offered food to hungry people. 

The temple is constructed in Nagara architecture style and has a sanctum with a large pillared porch housing the pictures of the image of Devi Annapurna. The temple has two idols of the Goddess – one made of brass and the other made of gold. The brass idol is open to darshan(worship) by devotees everyday. However, the idol made of Gold can be worshiped only once a year, the day before Diwali. 

Other important temples dedicated to Goddess Annapurna in India are the Annapoorneshwari Temple in Karnataka, the Annapurneshwari Temple in Cherukunnu, etc. 


 Annapurna is the Goddess of all food and nourishment present in the world. But she is often offered rice and grains during her worship.


As a manifestation of Goddess Parvati, she is often associated with scents of vanilla, amber, and sandalwood.

FAQs about  Goddess Annapurna

What is the Annapurna Goddess of?

Annapurna is the goddess of food and nourishment.

Who is Goddess Annapurna’s consort?

As Devi Annapurna is the manifestation of Goddess Parvati, she is the consort of Lord Shiva.

Goddess Annapurna is the manifestation of which Goddess?

Annapurna is the manifestation of goddess Parvati.

Where is the most famous temple of the goddess Annapurna?

Annapurna Devi Mandir in Varanasi is the most famous temple which is made in her honor.

Other Goddesses

If you enjoyed this post we are sure you will enjoy getting to know some of the other goddesses we also write about. You can find the complete list of goddesses sorted across regions and religions here.

Featured Image Credit: Ravi Varma Press, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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Rati Agnihotri

Rati Agnihotri is an independent journalist and writer currently based in Dehradun (Uttarakhand), India. Rati has extensive experience in broadcast journalism having worked as a Correspondent for Xinhua Media for 8 years. She was based at their New Delhi bureau. She has also worked across radio and digital media and was a Fellow with Radio Deutsche Welle in Bonn. She is now based in Dehradun and pursuing independent work. Rati regularly contributes articles and opinion pieces to various esteemed newspapers, journals, and magazines. Her articles have been recently published in "The Sunday Guardian", "Organizer", "Opindia", "Garhwal Post", and "Hindupost". Rati has a special interest in civilizational and cultural issues related to India and Hinduism. She has completed a MA (International Journalism) from the University of Leeds, U.K., and a BA (Hons) in English Literature from Miranda House, Delhi University. Rati is also a bilingual poet ( writes poetry in English and Hindi ) with two collections of English poetry to her credit. Her first poetry collection "The Sunset Sonata" has been published by Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters. Her second poetry collection " I'd like a bit of the Moon" has been published by Red River. She also runs a youtube channel dedicated to books, writing, literature, poetry, art, and culture.