Dear Spiritual Explorer: What is prasad? Loren P., Miami, FL
Om Copper Offering Bowl
Dear Loren: Prasad, literally, means gracious gift. It is usually known as some type of food offered to a deity, saint, or guru for blessing. After the food is duly blessed, it is then offered to others who might have attended the ritual ceremony. When prasad as fruit as is offered to the deity, some people might surround it with flowers and then it becomes a very attractive display. Some people have special prasad bowls to contain this offering. Ma’s India has a particularly beautiful Om Copper Offering Bowl.
In fact, when one visits India, they say that the purpose of a pilgrimage is to receive both the darshan (holy meeting with the saint) and the prasad that has been blessed.
Prasad, however, not only denotes an offering of food, but is also known to be a spiritual or mental state experienced by gods, sages and ther powerful beings which is marked by spontaneous generosity and the bestowing of boons, thus heightening prasad’s value.
Another exquisite meaning of prasad is that it is a process of giving and receiving between a human devotee and the divine god. For example, a devotee makes an offering of a material substance such as flowers, fruits or sweets. It is believed that the deity then enjoys this offering and gives back the blessed prasad to the devotee to be eaten or, if flowers, placed on their respective pujas.
What I have discovered through my research is that some Hindu sects will eat only prasad, which means that everything they eat is first offered to the deity. In that respect, when they are cooking their prasad, they do not do any tasting so as to offer the first taste to the deity.
There are some temples in India who provide prasad to all who come, believing that they are not only feeding the poor, but providing them with the divine’s mercy as well.
There are many offerings to the divine. One of the things I like best about the Om Copper Offering Bowl is that it not only can contain something edible as prasad, but in fact, one might place a piece of paper inside containing a devotee’s wish or desire. Then it is also considered appropriate to burn this piece of paper and consider it an offering to the divine. A multi-purpose offering bowl indeed!
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