The Sanskrit word Annadanam literally means the offering or sharing (danam) of food (annam).In sanskrit the word “Annam” means food and “Daanam” means to donate. Thus “Annadanam” means feeding the hungry and needy. Taittiriya Upanishad declares, All life force comes from food. (annam vai pranah) and Let food be produced in plenty (annam bahu kurveet). In Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna declares, “from food all beings are evolved (annad bhavanti bhutani)”. Even in Vedas, Upanishad, Ramayana, or Mahabharata during all these periods feeding a hungry person was treated as a greatest service to mankind. ANNA DAANAM MAHAA DAANAM [offering food is the best gift in the world.]is a very popular Sanskrit verse which has motivated millions of Indians to perform this divine act and in ancient India in most of the temple premises there were annadana centers
Annam Para Brahma Swarupam. Food only can support the body to attain Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha. The person, who participates in this sacred Annadanam, will be blessed by divine Gods. Creatures cannot live without food, hence the donors of Annadanam are also considered as donors of pranadanam. Pranadanam means to offer all things as donation, accordingly they are blessed. Annadanam is a sacred activity. 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.
Some of the Dhaanam’s practiced and followed by are as follows:
JALA DAANAM:This form of charity involves giving water with betel nut and dakshina to a Brahmin, and it is done.
VASTHRA DAANAM: Giving clothes to needy will ensure a long life to the giver. Donate clothes like saree and veshti , small girls and boys traditional dress.
DAANAM: When a woman donates kumkum, she ensures a long life for her husband.
CHANDANA : Donating sandalwood.
NAARIKELA DAANAM: Donating coconuts will ensure that the last seven generations attain salvation.
BUTTERMILK DAANAM:Donating buttermilk will give you knowledge and enlightenment.