IMPORTANCE OF FOOD DONATION
Annadanam means offering food, and it is not limited to human beings alone. Annadanam can be provided to animals and birds also.
Adi Sankaracharya in his stothram praising Annapurna, the personification of plentiful food, says:
Annapurnesadapurne Sankara Pranavallabhe gyanavairagya siddhyarthambhikshamdehica Parvati
Goddess of Plenty, Annapurna Devi, you are Lord Shiva’s eternal Consort, give us alms together with wisdom.’
By performing annadanam to the poor and the needy, Mata Annapoorani would be satisfied with us, and would shower her grace on us, and we would be blessed with all kinds of prosperities in this world, and after our death, we would attain SALVATION.
By providing annadanam, we would get strong mental and physical health, and our life would be blossomed like a lotus flower.
Nowadays annadanam is being provided in temples also. Food is the basic element of a human being’s life. Without food, we cannot survive in this world. Hence food must be offered in plenty and to the hungry person. The importance of providing annadanam is told in our Divine scriptures also. Once a person’s belly is filled with enough food, he would say wholeheartedly the food offered to him is enough and praise us. In case of other types of charity like gifting of gold and silver, nobody would get satisfied and say enough.
In case of doing other types of charity, one has to see the quality and nature of the person while donating him. In case of annadanam, it is not like that. A hungry person is eligible for annadanam, and even the divine gods cannot explain fully the merits of doing annadanam.
Even if one gifts lot of elephants, horses, cows or silver and gold, land and helping in the marriage of women, all this is never equal to performing Annadhanam.
In Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna declares, from food all beings are evolved, and feeding a hungry person is treated as a greatest service to the mankind. ANNA DAANAM MAHAA DAANAM means offering food is the best gift in the world, and it is a very popular Sanskrit verse which has motivated millions of Indians to perform this divine act, and in India in most of the temple premises there are annadana centers. It is said that the sacred works done by the people with the energy acquired by food bestows half of its effect to the donor of food and the rest is to that person. Many positive results like this can acquire from the Annadanam.