Prasad – Food For Gods

According to Hindu mythology, there are 360 crores Devis and Devatas looking after our wellbeing.  How do we thank these Gods and Goddess? Simply by singing their praises and offering something in cash or kind, sometimes in form of eatables.  This offering is called Bhog in North India and Neivedyam in South India.  After offering it to the Deity this Bhog is distributed among the devotees, who come to the temple at that time, as Prasad.

prasad photo
Subtle by Hari Prasad Nadig under CC BY-SA 2.0

Prasad could be an eatable like sweet rice, sweets or in form of Vermillion, turmeric, Tulsi leaves or Vibhuti(sacred ash). The eatable Prasad is always cooked without tasting.  In some temples like the Uppliappan temple in Tamil Nadu, the Neivedyam is cooked without adding salt. Here are few famous temples and details of Prasadam placed at the feet of the main deity:

1. Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh

Tirupathi is a world famous temple dedicated to Lord Balaji.  The famous Prasad of this temple is the Laddoo.  It is made using gram flour, sugar, cloves, and ghee.  The taste is different from our regular laddoo and remains fresh until you have distributed among the whole residential colony you are living in.

2. Vaideeswaran temple, Tamil Nadu

Vaideeswaran means Doctor and the presiding deity of the Vaideeswaran temple, Tamil Nadu, is said to cure the ones who seek him of all illnesses.  The Prasad here is Saanduoorandai –  holy ash and traditional medicine rolled into tiny balls as a medicine for illness, especially related to the stomach.

3. Jagannath temple, Orissa

At Jagannath temple, Puri, the lord is served with not one, not two, but 56 different foods daily!  There are two types of food offered:

  • Sankudi maha Prasad – rice, porridge mixed rice, ginger rice with sweet dal, mixed curry, saga Bhaja
  • Sukhila Prasad includes dry sweetmeats.

After the bhog is placed for the lord it is sold and available to devotees at Ananda Baazar.  The lord is also offered non-eatable Prasad called Nirmalya such as flowers, sandal paste etc

4. Dhandayuthapani temple, Tamil Nadu

Palani is the abode of Lord Dhandayuthapani also called Lord Kartikeya. Panchmrith, the Neivedhiyam here is applied on the idol and later given to the devotees.  Panchamrith is a combination of banana, jaggery, sugar candy, dates and kismis(rasins).

5. Singaperumal Koil, Tamil Nadu

In the Singaperumal Koil, dedicated to Lakshmi Narasimha, surprisingly the lord is offered south India’s favorite dish – the Dosa.

6. Sabarimala – Kerala

This famous temple is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa.  The special bhog are Aravana payasam and Ghee.

7. Savamani of Salasar Balaji, Rajasthan

At Savaamni temple you can see the main deity Hanuman with mustache and beard.  At his feet is placed the bhog consisting of Daal Batti, Churma, boondi, Peda, and ladoo.

8. Vaishnodevi temple in Jammu

At the northernmost part of India, Vaishnovdevi Mata is revered with bhog of Rajama, Kadi Chawal, and poori chana.  These foods do not have onion in them.  The Goddess is also pleased with Dry Prasad – puffed rice, walnuts, coconut pieces, sweet sugar balls, and dried apples.

9. Ganpatipule temple, Maharashtra

The famous Ganpatipule temple lies in the Konkan coast of Maharashtra.  Lord Ganapathi is worshipped with a platter of simple thali that includes Kichidi Pickle, Papad and boondi.

10. Saibaba temple, Shirdi

Returning from a visit to Shiridi your Prasad bag will be full of dry sweets such as rewri and makana.

There are some temples were the Prasad is quite out of the Ordinary

The Chinese Kali temple established by Chinese who have settled in West Bengal offer Fried rice, Noodles, and chopsuey to mother Kali.  The same is given to the devotees who visit here. The Jaya Durga Peetham in Chennai has vending machines where the devotees can collect sandwiches, tomato salads, burgers and brownies as Prasadam. At the Ratlam Mahalaxmi temple, Madhya Pradesh, Gold is offered as Prasad! You will believe it if you offer gold to the Goddess and receive a part of it as Prasad.

Rats are revered at Karni Mata temple in Rajasthan.  The devout feel privileged to receive the leftover milk offered to the rats. In a Varanashi Kaala Bhairavar temple, the lord partakes the wine offered by the devotees who visit this temple to seek his blessings. Obviously, wine is the Prasad in this temple.  While the lord at Jagannath temple is offered sattvic foods, in the same city Goddess Vimala Devi, Puri is worshipped with offerings of goat, fish and meat.

Featured Photo: Distributing Prasadam? by mynameisharsha under CC BY-SA 2.0

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