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Symbolism of Prasad in Hinduism – Naivedya – Bhog – Prasadam In Hindu Rituals

Prasad or prasadam is a Sanskrit word which refers to any material substance that is first offered to the deity, and then consumed (usually fruits, sweets, flowers). The process of offering is called naivedya or bhog. There is a deep symbolism and meaning associated with Prasad.

Once accepted by the temple deity, the prasad is returned to the devotee, it has the deity's blessing residing within it. So every temple visit usually has a two-way transaction. You offer something to the deity in the temple, and you get it back enriched with blessings. What's more, when you go back home, you also get to share it with friends, neighbors and family.

The most famous Prasadams are the Tirupati Balaji Laddu, Sabarimala Aravana Payasam, Palani Panchamritham etc.

A fruit or any food item that is offered to the deity is a prasadam.

Symbolism of Prasad

In the early Rig Vedic texts, though, prasad was something else altogether. It was originally a sort of inner mental state experienced by the Gods, or by wise sages, characterized by a spontaneous generosity and a bestowing of boons. The morphing of this mental state into a material substance appeared only in later texts.

Perhaps devotees needed something concrete to take back from the daily ritual of prayer at the temple. Or perhaps this very pragmatic religion understood that religion should nourish not just the soul but also the body!