Why do we offer food to the Hindu God and Goddess before eating it ? - THE HINDU PORTAL - Spiritual heritage Rituals and Practices

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Why do we offer food to the Hindu God and Goddess before eating it ?

offering food to the Lord before eating it
offering food to the Lord Krishna before eating it
In western tradition food is partaken after a thanks giving prayer - grace. Indians make an offering of it to the Lord and later partake of it as prasad - a holy gift from the Lord. in temples nd in many homes, the cooked food is first offered to the Lord each day. The offered food is mixed with the rest of the food and then served as prasad. In our daily ritualistic worship (pooja) too we offer naivedyam (food to the Lord)

This is done because : The Lord is omnipotent and omniscient. Man is a part, while the Lord is the totality. All that we do is by his strength and knowledge alone. Hence what we receive in life as a result of our actions is really his alone. We acknowledge this thru the act of offering food to him. This is exemplified by the Hindi words "Tera tujko arpan from the aarti "Jai Jagdesh Hare" - I offer what is yours to you. Thereafter it is akin to his gift to us, graced by his divine touch.
Knowing this, our entire attitude to food and the act of eating changes. The food offered will naturally be pure and the best. We share what we get with others before comsuming it. We do not demand, complain or criticise the quality of the food we get. We do not waste or reject it. We eat it with cheerful acceptance (prasad buddhi). When we become established in this attitude, this goes beyond the pre-view of food and prevades our entire life. We are then able to cheerfully accept all we get in life as his prasad.


Before we partake daily meals we first sprinkle water around the plate as an act of purification. Five morsels of food are placed on the side of the table acknowledging the debt owed by us to the :
  • Divine forces (devta runa) for their benign grace and protection.
  • Our ancestors (pitru runa) for giving us their lineage and the family culture.
  • The sages (rishi runa) as our religion and culture have been "realised" maintained and handed down to us by them.
  • Our fellow beings (manushya runa) who constitute society without the support of which we could not live as we do and
  • Other living beings (bhuta runa) for serving us selflessly
There after the Lord, the life force, who is also within us as the five life - giving physiological functions, is offered the food. The five life-giving functions are praanaaya (respiratory), apaanaaya (extretory), vyaanaaya (circulatory), udaanaaya (reversal) and samaanaaya (digestive). After offering the food thus, it is eaten as prasad - blessed food.


How to Offer Food to God
offering food to the Lord before eating it
>> It is helpful if you have an altar already set up somewhere in your home, apartment or dorm. On this altar should be either a sacred image or a picture of God in any of His sacred forms. For example, an image of any of His incarnations - Rama, Krishna, Narasingha - or any other form, such as Srinathaji or Venkateshvara, is fine. In addition, you can include images of your guru, saints, or other devas or devis on your altar - Durga, Ganesha, Sarasvati, etc. Images of God, however, should be the focal-point of any altar used for meditation. If you don't have an altar, then placing a simple image of God somewhere special will do.

>> When the food is ready, take a sampling of each preparation, along with a glass or cup of water, and place them all on a special plate that is used only for offering food to God. This plate must never be used for any other purpose than offering food in Prasada-Meditation. Place the plate of food before the sacred image. Offer a little incense to God. Then, in a meditative and devotional state of mind, sit with eyes closed in meditation and recite several sacred mantras. One such mantra which is highly effective is: Om Namo Narayanaya.


>> After chanting this mantra for some time, then remain in silent 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 prasada, food transformed into the grace of God. By partaking in such food, we show our devotion to God, and thus make spiritual advancement.


The food on the the plate should be re-merged into the food in the pots. Having thanked the Lord for accepting your offering, the prasada can now be eaten. The food should also be eaten with meditative awareness, peacefully and respectfully.

While eating the prasada, please always be conscious and aware that you are partaking in the special grace of God. Eat with reverence, and enjoy


MORE EXPLANATION :
In the Christian tradition, food is partaken after a thanks giving prayer grace. Indians make an offering of it to the Lord and later partake of it as prasada - a holy gift from the Lord. In temples and in many homes, the cooked food is first offered to the Lord each day. Our entire attitude to food and the act of eating changes, the food offered will naturally be pure and the best. We share what we get with others before consuming it. We do not demand, complain or criticise the quality of food we get. We do not waste or reject it, we eat it with cheerful acceptance. When we become established in this attitude, it goes beyond the purview of food and pervades our entire lives. We are then able to cheerfully accept all we get in life as His Prasada.

>> God in His Bhagavad Gita has broadly indicated that for true service, purity of food is necessary. As is the food, so is the mind. The food we eat should be regulated. How much food we consume and not what food we take, is more important. It should be in right measure and should be clean. Food dear to (wo)men of pure heart enhances longevity of life, a cheerful spirit, strength, health, happiness and delight.

>> A true devotee will refuse to accept any food that is not offered to God. Eatables which are offered to God are warmly accepted as His grace by devotees, in as much as they, being blessed by God, is holy. When the heart is made pure, perennial contemplation is possible. One of the steps adopted even today by many families is to place daily food preparations before the deities they worship and recite shlokas, the belief being that God is pleased with the dedication displayed


>> There after the Lord, the life force, who is also within us as the five life - giving physiological functions, is offered the food. The five life-giving functions are praanaaya (respiratory), apaanaaya (extretory), vyaanaaya (circulatory), udaanaaya (reversal) and samaanaaya (digestive). After offering the food thus, it is eaten as prasad - blessed food.

Also Read:
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 Vedic food - in Bhagawad geeta
 Why Be Vegetarian?
 Why Eat Prasadam?
 Why do we offer food to the Hindu God and Goddess before eating it ?
 PRASAD - Brief description about Hindus offer some items of food to the Lord
 Beef eating bad for environment, says United Nations body
 Hindu Traditional food vs Fatal Fat food
 3 modes of Vedic Food
 Vedic Food on Ayurvedic Temparament
 Tamasic Foods, and why do I care?
 Rajasic Food – the yogic food
 Satvic Food - Vedic ancient approach help our health today?
 Food and Prasada
 Vegetarianism Quotes
 Vegetarianism and Diet
 Karma. What is oviphages?: The soul
 Ugadi Pachhadi: Telugu New Year Clebration Chutney
 Lord Balajis Prasadam ( Laddu )
 Best Healthy Benefits of Vegetables Curry Leaves
 The Akshaya Patra Foundation


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