Author – Padmaja Vangala
Sri Ganeshaya Namaha
Sri Gurubhoy Namaha
Sri Lakshmi Nrusimha Parabrahmane Namaha
The Divine mother Annapurna is the Goddess of wisdom and Renunciation. The Goddess Shakambari is Shakini Shakti to fulfill hunger by producing healthy and nutritious vegetables. The holy food determines birth to death. The three natural appetites Hunger, thirst, and sex are born and die with humans.
Foremost is hunger which lasts till destiny. Cultivation is the main occupation in India. In the modern era, farming improved and new methods have also been introduced. Annam means feed to the Human race whether it is raw or cooked. The water and manure are feed to plants Animal to Animals are fed to Animals. Seeds and sweetness of pollen grains to birds/flies. Likewise, milk for babies and Annam is for elders. Here Annam is Brahma.
अहम ब्रह्मा means myself brahma. Some define it as Selfego, but it is self-respect. The plant’s people hunt/earn to live. They don’t like to beg or borrow. It is the duty of everyone to respect Brahma the inner appetite, अन्नम परब्रह्म. The Saint Gajanan Maharaj of Shegoan in Maharashtra, identified while he was eating rice flakes from a dustbin and said अन्न परब्रह्म स्वरूपम. Since then he recognized as Godfather to many devotees.
He who respects अन्नम, he is परब्रह्म स्वरूप an earth god. It is considered Yagna. Annam is Havishu to Fulfil hunger. It boosts energy to the body, soul, and mind which in turn empowers knowledge.
Annam is said to be Bhojanam namely Sativk, Tamasik &Rajasik. Satvik bhojanam is holy food for good health and spiritual life. Sativk foods are nuts, sprouts, fresh fruits, and Kichidi made of rice with Moongdal. Tamasik foods are Non-Vegetarian foods, Onion, garlic, and ripened fruits. Rajasik foods include Satvik and Tamasik foods and also cooked pulses, Spicy foods, and veggies.
Human nature is based on the Consumption of food. Satvik food gives Satvik Tatva, Tamasik food gives Tamasik Tatva and Rajasik foods gives Rajasik Tatva. There is a ritual for when and how to eat. In the Hindu religion, 7th-month babies are occasioned with Anna Prasana giving the first cooked feed to a newborn child with Payasam prepared with rice, milk, and sugar. It is performed on an auspicious day by Brahman pandits.
It consists of six tastes of food to complete a single meal called Shadruchulu having Sweet, Sour, Salty, Spicy, bitter and tangy. These six tastes are to be consumed once a week to maintain Sativk tatva. Over-cooked and over ripen foods are to be avoided.
It is a practice to offer Annam as Naivaidyam in the form of meals to God and distribute among devotees. In some families, it is routine to offer daily Naivaidyam. During Dhanurmasam in Vishnu temples, they offer Naivaidyam before sunrise for thirty days as Bal Bhogam. In Navaratri and auspicious days four times Naivaidyam is offered, early morning, afternoon, evening, and milk at night.
It is also practiced to offer animals and Non Vegetarian dishes as Naivaidyam in temples even though prohibited by Government. There is also a festival called Bonnalu from Ashada month to Shravan month for two days i.e.every Sunday and Monday in all Goddess temples. Clay pots are decorated and filled with cooked rice, veggies, and curd and offer to Goddess. The next day varieties of food are taken with the procession and distributed among devotees.
These two days there will be huge public gatherings, the police force is deployed, and men, women, children, and temples are decorated. It is understood that Annam is offered with high respect. There is also a saying Lord Vishnu is Bhog Priya and Brahman Bhojan Priya which means they love varieties of food to eat. There is specific and different Naivaidyam that are prepared for festivals for God and Goddess.
Modak is prepared for Ganapati, Puran poli for devi Payasam for Surya Bhagwan and so on. During the Sankranti festival, Seaseame laddu, and Urad vada are prepared. Deepavali Chappan Bhog (54 varieties of sweets) are offered to Lord Krishna. Bhai Dhuj is a festival wherein a sister invites her brother to perform pooja and offers food of several varieties. Naivaidyam is consumed as holy prasadam by devotees.
In Puri temple, anna preasadam is offered to Jagannath Swamy. Tirupati Laddu is famous around the world. Sheera is famous in Satyanarayana Vrat Pooja. Panchakarjayam in Datta Angha Vrat Pooja. Aravanam is famous in Ayyappa Swamy temple, Shabarimalai. They distribute in tins. It lasts for months together. During Adik month 33 Anarse for 30 days are distributed. During Kartik month Vana Bhojanam is arranged with friends and relatives. Devi Bhagavatam it is clearly described different types of Naivaidyam based on day, Thithi, Stars, Yog & Karna.
It is a question of how to eat and what to eat. Freshly cooked food, less Spicy & healthy foods to be consumed. Packed and stored foods to be avoided. In this era, one cannot go back to Vedic culture and traditional food. It may take time to come back and make it regular habit, but do not neglect try to eat nutritious food.
Eat sitting on the floor is impossible for day-to-day health problems. Change of cultivation nowadays has been changed from pesticides to organic. Free Anna Dhanam is distributed among devotees in temples across the globe Like wise Langar is arranged by the Punjabi community to pilgrims. It is can be seen at the time of the Amarnath yatra right from Chandanwadi to Amarnath gufa.
Even in small gatherings like birthday parties, kitty parties, marriage anniversaries, etc launch or dinner is arranged for guests. For any spiritual occasion like Marriage, thread ceremony, and death ceremony also food is distributed with great honor. In South, India rice is their staple food, wherein in North India wheat is the staple food. At one place rice and sambar are distributed at another place Puri and Sheera are distributed.
In Ramayan Lord Rama after eating Shabari Mata Indian plum spittle, he attained Vaksiddhi. The cooking legends are Nala and Bheem in Mahabharat and they are famous cooks. Dine with Delicious food is Divine life.
अनापूर्णे सदापूर्णे शंकर प्राण वल्लभे
जाना वैराग्य सिध्यारदम बिक्षाम देही च पार्वती
Lord Shiva prayed Alm’s of knowledge and wisdom from his Shakti Parvathi to renounciate world.