The ‘green’ goddess
Just as devi Annapoorna is the goddess related to food, devi Shakambari is the divine power related to vegetables and greens. ‘Shaka’ which is a Sanskrit word denotes vegan food while ‘ambari’ means one who bears. Hence, Shakambari is the goddess who descends on earth during the time of famine to feed the hungry. As per Hindu scriptures, she is Ishwari, the consort of Ishwar. With her blessings, all the miseries of life are removed and infinite bliss is attained.
Description of the form of Devi Shakambari
Goddess Shakamabari has a blue complexion similar to that of Goddess Durga and devi Satakshi. The jewelled crown on her head represents the Mahavidyas. Her bright eyes are quick to detect the grief of her children. She possesses three eyes on her forehead symbolising true wisdom or jnana. She holds a lotus on her upper right hand which stands for the charm of life. The bees which throng over the lotus symbolise the essence of the Vedas. There is a bow and arrow on her upper left hand- always ready to defend and protect her children from enemies. The lower hands hold herbs, flowers, vegetables and roots making her the perfect goddess of vegetation. The whole body of the divine mother has thousand eyes with tears flowing to create a river of sympathy.
Traditional story related to the festival
As per legend, once a severe drought occurred on earth and there was no trace of rain for nearly hundred years. Slowly, all the creatures of this planet started to die due to lack of food and water. God’s beautiful creation began to wither out. People started to offer their ardent prayers to the Almighty to rescue them from this plight. Moved by their prayers, Goddess Durga appeared before them in the form of Devi Shakambari. Wrapped up in green leaves, fruits and vegetables, she provided everything needed to satisfy the hunger and thirst of all the beings of this earth. With her blessings, rains poured down and the creation regained its life.
Rituals of the occasion
One of the most important rituals of the occasion is to bathe in a holy river. Devotees take a holy dip early in the morning and continue the ritual for the whole day. They pay homage to the sun god by offering flowers and water to Him. Then they sprinkle water on themselves as a part of purification. Special pooja is performed in many temples dedicated specially to devi Shakamabari. Food offerings comprising of fruits, vegetables and cereals are made to the goddess. Devotees chant hymns, do japas and meditation to please the goddess and seek her blessings so that they live a bountiful life.