What is Prasada or Hindu Religious Food

Prasādaprasadam or prasad is a religious offering in Hinduism. Prasad is cooked in large quantities during major festivals.  Deepavali is one such festival during which Prasad is cooked for thousands of devotees and requires more Pujaris (priests) than other times.

Most often Prasada is vegetarian food especially cooked for devotees after praise and thanksgiving to a god. Mahaprasada (also called bhandarā),[1] is the consecrated food offered to the deity in a Hindu temple which is then distributed and partaken by all the devotees regardless of any orientation.[2][3][4] Prasada is also sometimes called naivedya, also spelt naivedhyanaibedya or naived(h)yam. The food offered to God is called naivedya, while the sacred food sanctified and returned by God as a blessing is called prasada.

The prasada is to be consumed by attendees as a holy offering. The offerings may include cooked food, fruits and confectionery sweets. Vegetarian food is usually offered and later distributed to the devotees who are present in the temple. Sometimes this vegetarian offering will exclude prohibited items such as garlic, onion, mushroom, etc.[2]

Offering of food items forms part of the upachara or services to a Hindu deity in many Hindu traditions but is not universal. The murti (icon) is revered as a living entity who is offered food, fruits, and betelnut among others.

Temples usually have stricter worship routines that include offering naivedya multiple times a day. Most temples allow only trained pujaris to cook the naivedya. The naivedya offered directly to the deity is considered as prasada, the deity having “enjoyed” it. This can be considered to be a symbolic rather than a literal offering.

Offerings of food in home shrines are relatively simpler than the Hindu temples. A common practice is to mix the prasada back into the remaining food before partaking it.

Tasting during preparation or eating the naivedya food before offering it to God is strictly forbidden. The food is first placed before a deity and specific prayers are offered with accompanying rituals. Afterwards, the food is considered as having been blessed by God, and has officially become the sanctified prasada.

Offering food and subsequently receiving prasada is central to the practice of puja.[8] 


Related Images: