''Anna Abhishekam'' in the Shiva temples, Tamil Nadu

Anna abhishekam, Thanjavur Big temple, Tamil Nadu. Vikatan com

Abhishekam ( from Sanskrit )  simply means "bathing of the divinity to whom worship is offered."It is a religious rite or method of prayer in which a devotee pours a liquid, etc.,  offering on an image or murti of a God or Goddess. Abhiṣeka is common to Indian religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.. It is an important Hindu temple ritual and  is performed by the temple priests by way of  bathing the deity with holy water,  sandal paste, milk, sugar cane juice, Panchamiritham ( a blend of five fruits with honey) etc.,  and it is common among the Shiva temples across South India. Anointing is also done by bathing  the deity  with ''Annam'' - cooked rice as in the case of Shivalinga ( the phallic symbol of  energy; an abstract or aniconic representation of God  Shiva in Shaivism). It is periodically done  in countless temples dedicated to God Shiva across the land. The entire deity is fully covered with cooked rice. with fine decorations consisting of an assortment of fruits and vegetables. 

 Considered as a divine ritual, tradition has been that   Abhishekam  is normally performed on the  Full Moon day in the Tamil month of Aippasi (mid-October  to mid-November). On this particular  day, the Sun comes closer to the earth , hence the Moon  is brighter than other Full  Moon days.  The abhishekam done on the evening  of this particular day is more significant than other full moon days . Also known as Maha Anna Abhishekam,  lots of people visit the Shiva temple to witness this holy ritual which is symbolic of prosperity and welfare of the society.  Because of Covid -19 pandemic, only limited people are allowed into the temple to witness this ritual. . 

Milk abhishekam to Shivalinga. you tube. 

Among the different kinds of charity, Anna Dhanam - feeding the people with free food is the most satisfying and significant one. The receiver of Anna Dhanam can not  demand more food once his stomach is full. On the contrary, if you donate money,  the one at the receiving end will never get satisfied with the money donated to him, The abhisekha food is offered to the animals as well.. Abhishekam is a way of expressing our gratitude to the almighty for providing us plenty of food, rain , etc.  Yet another reason is the production agricultural products like rice, wheat need  five  natural elements.  God Shiva, being an embodiment of Panchaboothas - five important elements of Nature for our sustenance, cocked rice is  widely used for abhishekam. The Panchaboothas are  fire ( Agni/energy) from the Sun, water (Jalam)  from the sky (Akash) and earth (prithvi)  from where  we get grains, vegetables and fruits. The sown seed  in the soil grows  as paddy, etc   because of the optimal cyclic operation  of these various  natural elements. If any  one  of the elements  is missing or operates beyond the limit, the  food production will be disturbed. God Shiva in the form of  Shivalinga  is a  religious symbol in Hinduism  as the generative power  all of existence, all creativity and fertility at every cosmic level. This ritual is done to the God to express our gratitude to him and his sustained efforts to feed the living things on the planet.

 On the 30th of October, 2020 Anna Abhishekam was done at famous temple like Thanjavur Brihadeeswara temple and Gangaikonda Cholapuram (in Ariyalur Dist,). It is said that about 1000 kg of cooked rice was used for Annaabhishekam and the pasd was distributed among the devotees and others.  The temple management allowed limited devotees to participate in the ritual in view of Covid Pandemic that is slowly on the decline in that part of Thanjavur District. . .