The Bible says that God made the Birds, Trees, Fruits all for mankind to enjoy. God has made such an arrangement that he has the food in place in the form of Mother’s Milk before a baby is born. The main reason we work for every day is Food. Don’t you think we should thank God? The idea of thanking God and giving back to him as in gratitude became Sacrifice. This sacrifice later took the form of Prasadam during the Puranic era. Prasadam means a gracious gift, a devotee offers food, clothes, or anything he wishes and considers it acknowledged. In Bhagavad Gita, Krsna glorifies Prasad to be the destroyer of all miseries, prasade sarva-duhkhanam hanir asyopajayate. Krsna also says that we can offer anything in form of Bhoga and acknowledge as Prasada, In Bhagavad Gita 9.26 Krsna says ” with devotion anyone offers me fruit, flower, leaf or even water I will accept it”. The meaning of this shloka is we can offer anything with love and devotion the god acknowledges it. The incident when Vidura’s wife peeled the bananas but because she was being engrossed anxiety to serve Krsna, offered the peels and threw away the fruit. Krsna relished the peels more than he relished any foods because the offering was made with utmost devotion and love. In Ramayana, Shabri would taste each and every berry and offer to Lord Rama, and Rama would relish because it was offered with love and devotion. There have been many examples in the texts where Gods have relished strangest offerings if they were offered out of love and devotion. As Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita 9.27: yat karosi yad asnasi, yaj juhosi dadasi yat, yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kurusva mad-arpanam, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.
So can the contemporary foods be offered to gods? Yes, it is said that whatever we eat or use has to be first offered to the lord. This has a certain cleansing effect on ourselves and also it helps us advance spiritually. These are a few temples where contemporary foods replaced the traditional offerings.
Munch Murugan- Chocolate
Chocolate and its popularity both are a very modern idea. Traditionally in the south would be mainly pancamritam, Pongal, or ladoo. North India would follow the similar idea of ladoo, sugar, coconut, nuts etc. But this temple in Alleppey has an interesting prasadam to offer. Alleppey or Alappuzha is known for many things beaches, backwaters, boat houses, and also temples. The Chemmoth Subramaniya Swami Temple of Alleppey is a temple worth mention. This deity of Balamurgan developed a sweet tooth and a diehard liking for Chocolates. Once a few years ago an unwell young boy, became adamant to offer Nestle’s chocolate bar ‘Munch’ to the deity. The boy was then miraculously cured. The news spread across the state and then across the country, it is since then the devotees offer chocolates and Munch specifically to the deity. The munch and chocolates offered are then given to devotees as Prasadam. Devotees also offer munch that equals their body weight, to seek the blessing of Murugan to solve their miseries. This temple is an interesting example of contemporary Prasadam.
Tangra Kali Mandir– Indo Chinese
The fried rice, Manchurian, Chow Mein and many other Indo-Chinese delicacies that we relish today, are said to be originated in Tangra region of Kolkata. The Hakka Chinese Migrants brought with them their cuisine, their cuisine then adopted the Indian spices and techniques along with Bengali flavors to bring us the Indo Chinese we relish today. The Tangra region is not only known for its Chinese food but is also known for Chinese Kali Mandir. This Kali Mandir is very popular when it comes to offering and Prasadam. This goddess is fond of Chinese Food. The Local Chinese devotees visiting the temple offer fried rice, noodles, etc to the goddess. The Chinese devotees also worship the goddess according to their customs. There is a story behind how the Chinese community started worshiping the goddess. There was a young boy of around 8-10-year-old. He was suffering from some incurable disease. The parents had lost hope and had tried each and everything possible. The doctors had given hope and chances of survival were slim. In all eyes of hope, they kept the boy under the feet of the deity and the boy miraculously recovered. This news attracted the Chinese community to also worship the goddess in this temple.
Jai Durga Peetham – Trendy fast food and desserts
Anything that is made with a clean mind and heart can be offered to God. This is an ideology of this Durga temple located in padapai, outskirts of Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The temple was in news in summer of 2017, when it replaced the traditional Prasadam of sweet pongal, tamarind rice, etc for more trendy and contemporary Prasadam of burgers, brownies, sandwiches, doughnuts, exotic salads and more. The temple also has a vending machine that will dispense a box of this trendy Prasadam. This temple certainly attracted many tourists, locals and devotees from all across the state and country.