In Hinduism, Goddess Annapurna is the one who gives food and nourishment. She is the incarnation of Goddess Parvati, who nourishes all creation through food. Many Hindu households install her idol to receive a constant flow of her blessings for food.
Once Parvati lost her color, her Gauri rupa and was very sorrowful. She asked Lord Shiva the way to regain her Gauri rupa. Shiva asked her to do anna dan (to distribute rice) at a place called Kasi. Parvati took the form of Annapurna with a golden pot and ladle for anna dan and she got her fair complexion back.
Annapurna temple in Varanasi is situated adjacent to the Kasi Viswanath temple. Annapurna is considered as the queen of Kasi and Lord Shiva the king.
Goddess Annapurna is worshipped on the fourth day of Navratri. Worshipping her will never make one suffer from lack of food. Food is indeed Brahman, says Chandogya Upanishad. Annapurna not only provides life giving food, but also nourishes the soul. Goddess Annapurna puja is observed in the shukla paksha of chaitra month as per Hindu calendar. She bestows blessings of prosperity and health. Married women pray to her for long life of their husbands and peaceful married lives.
Mantra for Goddess Annapurna
||Annapoorne sadaa poorne Shankarah Praanavallabhe
Gnana Vairagya Siddhyartham Bhikshaan Dehi ca Parvati ||
Mother Annapoorna, You who are Eternally Complete, You, The very life of Lord Shiva, Give me food (in alms) So I can sustain my body To achieve the Supreme Knowledge.
Vishalakshi means wide-eyed Goddess. The Vishalakshi temple in Varanasi is considered as a Shakti peeth, the most holy shrine dedicated to Mother Goddess. Goddess Sati`s earring fell on the earth at the site of Manikarnika kund. It became the Shakti peeth, where Goddess is worshipped as swayambu or self-formed and is referred to as Manikarni Devi.
Devotees take bath in the holy Ganga just before offering worship to Goddess Vishalakshi. It is believed that she blesses one with success and wealth when invoked through sincere prayer.
Unmarried girls pray to find a suitable groom, barren mothers pray for begetting a child and unfortunate people for blessings of good fortune.
Saint Ramakrishna says in his gospel about Goddess Kali: “In the beginning, when there was neither creation, nor the Sun, the Moon, the planets, the earth and when everything was enveloped in darkness, then the Mother, the formless One, Mahakali, the great power was one with Maha- Kala, the Absolute. She is also worshipped as Maha-Kali, Nitya-Kali, Smasana-Kali, Raksha-Kali, and Syama-Kali.”
Syama-Kali, the dark Goddess is worshipped in Hindu households as she is the Dispenser of boons and the Dispeller of fear. Raksha-Kali, the Protectress, is worshipped in times of epidemic, famine, earthquake, drought, and flood. Smasana-Kali, the Goddess of cremation grounds, is the embodiment of the power of destruction.
As Nitya- Kali, after the destruction of the universe, the Divine Mother, the Embodiment of Brahman, gathers together the seeds for the next creation. After the creation, the primal power dwells in the universe itself. She brings forth this phenomenal world and then pervades it.
She is worshipped for destruction of enemies, protection from evil spells and black magic. Long pending and deep rooted problems get solved by her mercy. The Kali Temple at Dakshineshwar is a powerful remedy for evil effects caused by malefic planetary influences and helps in fulfilment of desires.
Skanda Purana states that Goddess Mookambika enshrined in Kollur (located in Karnataka state in India) is a manifestation of Durga, Saraswati and Lakshmi. Goddess Mookambika is seen in the form of Jyotirlinga. Swayambu linga manifested itself when Shiva drew the Sri Chakra with his toe and directed Kola Maharishi to do a long lasting penance.
This swayambu linga – the Udhbhava linga is the tangible form of Sri Chakra Bindu, which is the abode of all gods. It has a very high spiritual significance since Shri Mookambika Devi merged with this Linga. From here, she fulfills desires of her devotees. A golden line or swarna rekha has formed in the swayambu Linga and it is wider and taller on the left side. It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi, Parvati and Saraswati have all merged in the left side and the Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma reside in the right side of the Linga.
That is why the temple Goddess is worshipped as Saraswati in the morning, as Lakshmi at noon and Durga in the evening.