In the Hindu religion, food is offered to God during rituals or puja at home or temple. Eating of prasad after offering it to God is considered as holy and divine gifts from the Gods that are seen as blessings and something that one must not refuse.
What is prasad?
Prasad is an offering made to a Hindu deity, usually eatable food items, which is thereafter distributed to the devotees as the deity’s blessings. Basically, it is related to the spiritual belief of an individual. When we offer food to God in the form of Prasad, it becomes blessed by the divine grace.
What things should you keep in mind while preparing prasad?
We must follow some important guidelines while preparing food for God, as mentioned below:
• Only Satvik food is offered to God. God only accepts purely vegetarian offerings. It means that the offerings are away from any pain and cruelty.
• Food should be prepared in a clean place with clean ingredients and stable mindset because its combination increases the Satva Guna in food. So one should be in a calm, peaceful and contemplative frame of mind while preparing food for God as we are acting for God's satisfaction.
• Onion, Garlic, Mushrooms like vegetables are prohibited in the offering. In Vedic scriptures, it is explained that these foods excite the more passionate elements of the human psycho-physical constitution. It may vary from religion to religions.
• Prasad should be offered in the clean and unused utensil. The place should be cleaned first before offering. Some curtain is placed during offering Prasad.
• We must not taste the food before it is offered to God. The preparing of Prasada is done as an active devotional meditation. So the goal is to prepare delicious foods, not with our satisfaction in mind, but thinking only of the satisfaction of God. Therefore, He should be the first to "taste" the fruits of our labours.
But opinion is still different and varies with person to person. In Ramayan, Shabri offered the tasted berries to Lord Ram. It is connected to serve best and sweetest berries to her Deity. So your intention also matters.
How to offer prasad to God?
When the food is ready, take a sampling of each preparation, along with a glass or cup of water, and place them in a special plate that is used only for offering food to God. This plate should never be used for any other purpose than offering food as Prasad. Place the plate of food before the sacred image, picture or idol of God.
Then remain in silent doing food blessing prayer for 5 - 10 minutes and request the Lord to accept your offering. After you have offered the food in this way, the food that you have cooked is now sanctified and considered to be Prasad, food transformed into the grace of God.
The food on the plate should be re-merged into the food in the pots. Having thanked the Lord for accepting your offering, the Prasad can now be eaten. Prasad distribution should be done with clean hands.
How to take prasad?
Always take the Prasad with your right hand. Never use the left hand. Both hands may be used but place your right palm over left palm, bow your head, and then receive it. You should not throw anything on the floor even if you don’t want it.
List of Unique Hindu Prasads:
• Panchamitra: It is a combination of five items milk, ghee, honey, curd, sugar/jaggery. This is one of the basic nine types of Naivedyam which offered to God.
• In South the Gods are offered with Sakkara Pongal, means sweet rice, Pulihora, means tamarind rice, Pongal, means rice mingled with moong daal and added with pepper powder, and the most famous Tahir Sadam, the curd rice. And in big temples like Tirupathi, the Lord is offered with Laddu and Wada.
• Modak or Laddus are served to Lord Ganesha.
• Kheer - A preparation of Milk, rice and Sugar is offered to Goddess Lakshmi.
• Milk products, Butter Shrikhand, is offered to Lord Krishna. Tulsi is a must ingredient in offering Naivaidhyam to Lord Krishna.
• Besides this, any fruits, dry fruits or sweets can be offered to God.
The significance of offering food to God is infused with divine consciousness and spiritual enlightenment. While eating the Prasad, always be conscious and aware that you are partaking in the special grace of God. So eat it with reverence.
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The GaneshaSpeaks.com Team