In Hinduism why do we people offer prasad after every sacred ceremony? Is it related to some ancient belief and has some logical benefits?
Offering the prasad is referred to the prasad that is offered to lord first and then it is to be served among all the persons who will be present there. It is believe that the prasad work as blessings which is transferred through prasad. The prasad is not only sweet or pure water(amrit).It can be anything like tulsi leaves or anything good like that.
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Prasad( Pr- before/in front of and Sad-to sit) literally means - To sit in front of .
While we pray, we keep some food or fruit in front of the deity and we chant mantras, light diya, use conch shell, dhoop & incense sticks. We invoke higher energy, and seek blessing from it. The entire ritual enhances the energy of the space. The food which we have kept, absorbs the heightened energy. Consuming the food, which sat before or was offered to the deity first, we consume some part of the essence of the deity, which was absorbed by the food, by just being present in the high energy / aura of the deity. When we consume it, it helps transfer that energy to our physical body, helping us transform our energy to higher state. Hence, Prasadam is so significant and crucial to our religious practices.
In Hindu tradition Prasadam is the must in any temple that is offered to the Lord. Example we can take Pongal as Prasad. The pongal is made and kept before the deity and some tulsi leaves are put on that.Pronouncing 6 lines of mantra water is sprinkled with some flower petals on the pongal. Again Punar neivedyam is done by repeating the same 6 lines mantra by sprinkling water with some flower petals. Half of the flower petals will be put in the pongal and the remaining half to the Lotus feet of the deity. Because of the neivedyam done, the taste of the Prasad will be marvellous ---mean to say the bonding between the deity and human takes place and the Prasad is offered to all devotees which will cause good to the devotees. Synopisis is that all the things are God given and we have to offer to him before we consume. That is why Prasad is done and offered. In srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple sugar pongal is offered by 10/30 pm everyday to the God. Made of rice, jaggery,cashew, dried grapes with lot of ghee the taste is tremendous.
I believe there are many festivals and prayers after which Prasad is offered. It is done to thank Nature Land, Sun, Water, Air etc.
For Example the festival of Pongal, Makar Sakranti, lohri etc ... Pongal in Tamil Nadu is celebrated to mark the withdrawal of the southeast monsoons as well as the reaping of the harvest. Pongal is strictly a rural festival. The Sun is worshiped for its rays are responsible for life on earth. It is the biggest harvest festival, spread over four days. The name of the festival is derived from Pongal, a rice pudding made from freshly harvested rice, milk and jaggery.
The first day, Bhogi Pongal, is a day for the family. Surya Pongal, the second day, is dedicated to the worship of Surya, the Sun God. The third day, Mattupongal is for worship of the cattle. In Chennai (Madras), a rath yatra procession is taken out from the Kandaswamy Temple. In Madurai, Tanjore and Tiruchirrapalli, where Pongal is known as Jellikattu, bundles of money are tied to the horns of bulls and villagers try and wrest the bundles from them. Community meals are made from the freshly gathered harvest and enjoyed by the entire village.
In preparation for Pongal, houses and courtyards are cleaned and a new string of fresh mango leaves is hung at the front door of the house. The making of sweet rice is the most important preparation done. This is a dish prepared with rice, dal, jaggery, dry fruits, sugar and milk. All these ingredients are cooked in a new clay pot in the open and allowed to boil over, signifying plenty and prosperity for the year ahead. This is offered to the Sun God and partaken as prasad.
So, its quite logical that here we are thanking God to provide the living.
Prasad or Prasadam
In Hindu tradition or in Hinduism , people perform various kind of "Poojas" (पूजा) (devotional service) at homes , offices , factories and in public places , to worship various kind of gods , and to get blessings from them , show their devotion and respect toward gods. eg. SatyaNaraya Pooja , Vastu Shanti Pooja. etc. After Pooja ceremony Hindu's offer Neywedyam (नैवेद्य) to gods or food offering to gods.Devotees believes that god accepts this food and fulfil their wishes in return.
After Neywedyam devotees share this food among all as Prasad Or Prasadam (प्रसाद , प्रसादम). As this is considered God's blessed food. Or Sacred Food.
God's Prasad is consided in Hinduism as 'Anna Brahma' (अन्न ब्रह्म). Paprasad includes items like rice, ghee rice, mixed rice, cumin seed and asaphoetida-ginger rice mixed with salt, and dishes like sweet dal (Daliya दलिया) , plain dal mixed with vegetables, Mixed curries of different types (Sanbhar सांबर), Saaga Bhaja', (शाक सब्जी) or Mix vegetables etc.
In its material sense, prasada is establish a process of giving and receiving between a human Devotee and the divine god. It creates a bond in beween Humans beings & in-between Gods and Humans. So prasad or Prasadam serves purpose of bondoing people and God together.
We can find a nice story related to Prasad or prasadam in Satyanarayan Katha (सत्यनारायण कथा). Here