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When pujas performed, normally, the officiating priest takes the items (like rice, wheat, grains,...) remaining after the puja or used during the puja. I have seen priests take the grains, some also take the cloths, and others take kalash with coconuts as well. I have also seen where priest doesn't take any unless given by the host.

Interested to know what shaastras say about who gets these. We may not have direct reference to pujas; hence I am ok if reference is related to sacrifices where remnant items (like ghee) are mentioned.

[Edit start]: Answers are coming as "Remnants belong to Rudra". But purohita taking it is general practice; is it the greed of priests resulted in this custom or are there scriptural views? If remnants are prasadam (belongs to Rudra), why not leave that to host? If the host gives it to the priest (as daanam), then it's fair. Otherwise, doesn't it mean priest taking away what may not belong to them. Hence I am looking for answer which explains whether priest can take this unilaterally or not; whether it's priest's right? Does it only belong to priest or only to host or both have a share of what truly belongs to Rudra? [Edit end]

Any additional details, like the items officiating priest is entitled to and which one he isn't (for example: the utensils used; assuming priest can't take gold plates of the householder!), would be good to know as well. Which ones priest can take, which ones the host must give to the priest, which ones remains with host?

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    Remanants of yagna is claimed inits enterity by Lord Rudra.. its with due permission from Rudra one can take the offerings.. that is why priest who may not know inccur curse from rudra for stealing rudras offering..
    – Prasanna R
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 10:56
  • At the end of the puja ritual, the remnants are offered to the ucchistabhojins of the respective deities. For Vaishnava deities; it is Visvakasena, for Shaiva deities; Chandeshvara, for Mahavidyas; Ucchistachandalini, for all other female divinities; Sheshika, for Ganesha; Ucchistaganapati, for Surya; Tejaschanda. Only them it becomes nirmalya. The nirmalya food is to be consumed by all while other articles like clothes, jewellery, scents etc is to be donated to the purohit. If pustakacharya, brahma & ritvik also have been employed then the articles are to be divided into the ratio of 8:4:2:1
    – অনু
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 13:41
  • If the yajamana him/herself is officiating as the purohit, then the articles are to be dpnated to the Guru. Brahmins were prohibited from accepting wages from lower-castes & receiving in alms upacharas of puja alongside the dakshina in this manner has been ordained by scriptures as their legitimate means of livelihood under normal circumstances. The scriptures also describe one's Guru & Brahmins to be living embodiments of deities within the human society, so donating the nirmalya to them is prescribed for the yajamana for ensuring all-round satisfaction of the Istadevata.
    – অনু
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 14:09

3 Answers 3

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Rudra (Shiva) is said to preside over sacrificial remnants, which is known as Ritual Remnant - Ucchiṣṭa (उच्छिष्ट) or śeṣa, or vāstu; and thus, as such he's the one who "metaphysically" takes/gets the remnants of sacrifice.

Some scriptural references

1. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam MahāPurāṇa:

ŚB 4.7.56

रुद्रं च स्वेन भागेन ह्युपाधावत्समाहित:
कर्मणोदवसानेन सोमपानितरानपि ।
उदवस्य सहर्त्विग्भि: सस्‍नाववभृथं तत: ॥ ५६ ॥

With concentrated mind, he waited upon Rudra, by offering the share due to him (viz. the remnants of the sacrifice). By performing the concluding rite called udavasānena, he offered oblations to gods who were eligible to drink Soma and eligible to others. Thus after completely performing the sacrifice, he (Dakṣa), along with the priests (participants in the sacrifice), performed the sacred ablution called avabhṛtha.

English Translation by Motilal Banarsidass Publication

2. Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa

A more concluding and exact reference is found in Śatapathabrāhmaṇa (शतपथब्राह्मण).

The basic premise of the story being - Rudra was left behind on the sacrificial site (vāstu) by the other gods who – by means of sacrifice – ascended to heaven. Rudra went after them, and threatened to destroy the gods, and hence, gods decreed thus -

Kanda I, adhyaya 7, brahmana 3, Verse 3 to 7.

तद् वा अग्नय इति क्रियते | अग्निर् वै स देवस् तस्यै तानि नामानि शर्व इति यथा
प्राच्या आचक्षते भव इति यथा बाहीकाः पशूनाम् पती रुद्रो ऽग्निर् इति तान्य् अस्या
शान्तान्य् एवेतराणि नामान्य् अग्निर् इत्य् एव शान्ततमं तस्माद् अग्नय इति क्रियते स्विष्टकृट इति |७|

  1. The Adhvaryu accordingly sprinkled the sacrificial dishes in proper succession, and replenished them for the sake of one (additional) portion, and again rendered them fit for use, and cut off one portion for each. This then is the reason why he (Rudra) is called Vāstavya, for a remainder (vāstu) is that part of the sacrifice which (is left) after the oblations have been made: hence, if sacrificial food is offered to any deity, the Sviṣṭakṛt (Agni, 'the maker of good offering') is afterwards invariably offered a share of it; because the gods invariably gave him a share after themselves.

Translated by Julius Eggeling

And, further,

3. Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa

Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa 1.7.8.5 (तैत्तिरीयब्राह्मण)

उच्छेषणभागो वै रुद्रः | भागधेयेनैव रुद्रं निरवदयते ॥ १.७.८.५ ॥

Rudra’s share is the remnant (i.e. Ucchiṣṭa). It is said that Rudra indeed gives the share.

And finally, since Rudra is the owner of remnants, one has to offer him first, and then only such offerings become Nirmālya (literally dirtless, Pure). Thereafter the officiating priest is allowed to take away the remnants and distribute, further distribute them as prasadam, if any.

4. Skanda MahāPurāṇa

Chapter 38, Section 2 - Puruṣottama-kṣetra-māhātmya, Book 2 - Vaiṣṇava-khaṇḍa, Skanda Purāṇa (स्कन्दपुराण)

भक्त्या लोभात्कौतुकाद्वा क्षुधासंशमनेन वा । आकंठभक्षितं तद्धि पुनाति सकलांहसः ॥ ९ ॥

  1. Whether due to devotion, or covetousness or out of curiosity or as a means to satisfy hunger, if the Nirmālya is eaten to the full, it dispels all the sins

.....

यज्ञशेषं गृहस्थानां भोक्तव्यमिति शास्त्रतः । देवोच्छिष्टं न जग्राह अन्यपाकाभिशंकया ॥ ५७ ॥

  1. Since there is the injunction in the scriptural texts that the remnants of Yajña should be partaken of by householders, he did not take the remnants of the offering unto the Lord suspecting that it must have been cooked by another (inferior person).

To conclude -

The remnants of a sacrifice are presided over, and consumed (metaphysically) by Rudra. Having offered them to Rudra, the physical remains become Nirmālya, and fit to be partaken by the presiding priest of the sacrifice.

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  • Thank you. It was clear from earlier comments or answers that Rudra is the deity. In practice, whatever is of Rudra's portion taken by the officiating priest? Or can the host/Yajaman have it as Prasadam? Is priest allowed to take the remnants unilaterally or does the host need to give that to priest?
    – Kanthri
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 17:34
  • In our area at least:- Everything is taken by the purohita. He may, as per his discretion, choose to distribute it to anyone he deems fit, or it belongs to him/his family members, depending on what kind of remnants and gifts as danam were given. @Kanthri
    – Vivikta
    Commented Feb 7, 2022 at 1:37
  • Danam is different to remnants. Generally, Purohita takes. Is it the greed of priests resulted in this custom or are there scriptural views? If remnants are prasadam (belongs to Rudra), why not leave that to host? If the host gives it to the priest (as daanam), then it's fair. Otherwise, doesn't it mean priest taking away what may not belong to them (stealing). Hence I am looking for answer which explains whether priest can take this unilaterally or not; whether it's priest's right? Does it only belong to priest or only to host or both have a share of what truly belongs to Rudra?
    – Kanthri
    Commented Feb 7, 2022 at 2:48
  • Apastamba 2.4.9(Verse:10-12) suggests they should keep some for themselves too. @Kanthri, if this solves your doubt I may add this, or else some other verse will be needed
    – Vivikta
    Commented Feb 7, 2022 at 6:20
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    Accepted the answer. The Skanda Purana, though it was about Naivedhya, it answers the question on remnants.
    – Kanthri
    Commented Mar 17, 2022 at 8:07
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Here are three classifications of Rituals. Case 1. A Vedic Yajna. For example Satarudiya Homam. Case 2. A Agamic Kriya created from Kalpam. For example Sahasralinga Archana or Abhishekam. Case 3. A visit to Kshetra (auspicious land) and temple, say Shiva temple.

Now, Your question looks more like the 2nd one. But you should know in general the other two cases, else jump to Case 2.

Case 1. Let's get some vocabulary: Homa/Agnihotram/Śaṇḍila = fire altar, Cātvāla = hole in the center of the fire, Svāhākāra = presenting of oblations into the fire altar, Anuvākam = verse used in making oblation, Kalasha = Vessel, Yajamāna = the host of the ceremony, Adhvaryu = the one making oblations, Yājuṣmatī/Pariśrit = ceremonial stones around the fire altar, Lokampṛṇa = bricks used in building the fire-altar, Mantra = Anuvākam chanted based on its meter to invoke certain resonance/vibration/Deva, Sāmans = soothing and appeasing hymns, Yajñá = the entire ceremonial process of mantras as Svāhākāra given into the fire-altar, Vedi = the location of the Yajñá, āgnidhra = the brahmin/priests supporting the process of the Yajñá. Hotr = priest In this situation, at the end of the yagna all remnant offerings are bundled up into a sack and submitted. Why? Because Rudra will take this remnant as a WHOLE. Meaning he will not think this is leftover, he will consider this leftover as a WHOLE and restart the Yajna. In this way whatever is again leftover is again taken by Rudra and again the Yajna starts as WHOLE. This loop continues and so does creation continues. Rudra is the holder of Soma, He is the abode of all hymns, he is the abode of all sacrifice, He is the auditor/inspector/enforcer of Yajna and the proper chanting of Samans (refer to Atharva Veda 11.2.7/23/17) (Caraka-Katha Aranyaka II 38, III 207) (Rig Veda Mandala 10.125.6 / 1.43) (Kṛṣṇa Yajur Vedā Taittirīya Saṃhitā 1.3.14, 1.4.11) (Mahābhāratam Moksha Dharma Parva Section 285) Now I don't think this is your Question: Now cattle are given as sacrifice (not killing, but as a donation) is given to the Hotr along with other gifts like food, utensils, and given land. Remember what King Bali did when he saw the young Vamana.

Case 2: At the end of Agamic Kalpa ritual at home or in an auspicious land. The items used for the kalpam ritual are given to the Hotr/priest/brahmama called purohit. like the Kalasha (utensils), rice, fruits, food prepared, coins, dates, dry nuts, ghee ect. If the hoster (yajamana) is a king, then he can give gold, land, and cattle.

Case 3: if you are in a Siva temple and you receive a prasad after a ritual then you have to first go to Chandiswara, present the prasad to him and take his permission to take home or consume. If you have hosted the ritual (like Abhishekam) you can give the remnant milk, ghee, sugar, and other edibles to the Brahman you conducted the ritual.

If you need clarification, please use the comments section. Good luck.

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As for pujari he can only take whatever is given to him as dakshina and the dakshina can be anything and it depends on the doner but in some puja like marriage and all dakshinas are fixed. Sometime the priest can also ask for something what he wants like cow or anything and in manas puja also this same rules are applied.

Shiva Maha Purana, Chapter 29 - The incarnation of Śiva as Kṛṣṇadarśana.:

  1. The intelligent Āṅgirasa. brahmins are performing a sacrifice. Every sixth day the rites are marred.

  2. O wise Nabhaga, you go there and praise them. Recite two Vaiśvadeva sūkatas there. That sacrifice will then become perfect.

  3. As soon as the sacrifice is concluded those Brahmins going heavenwards will give you delightedly the wealth left over in the sacrifice.

So the left over of a sacrifice belongs to the Brahmins who perform the yagna and they can also give it to anyone else if they want.

Still, again i will stick to my original answer.

Manu said:— 34. O dear, listen to my words: that Puruṣa is lord Śiva. Every object is his and particularly what is obtained from the sacrifice.

  1. That what is left over after the sacrifice is Śiva’s share. This argument is current among some intelligent people due to his will.

  2. Undoubtedly lord Śiva deserves everything. What then of the wealth left over in a sacrifice? More depends on the lord’s wish.

  3. O Nabhaga, the lord has come in that form in order to bless you. Go there. Propitiate him properly.

  4. Request him to forgive your fault. Bow to him well and eulogise him. That Śiva alone is the lord of all, the lord of sacrifice, the lord of everything.

So, the question of yours, about the pujari taking the remnants of a sacrifice is completely wrong. Period.

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    Useful information but completely wrong answer. Doesn't respond to any of the queries in the OP; sorry. And, on the answer itself: it can be seen from srutis that Narayana, Vishnu, Surya, amba, and many are purusha-same as rudra.
    – Kanthri
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 5:53
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 15:57
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    This doesn't answer the Question except last line but it doesn't have sources. Please expand your last line with sources and flag Mods to undelete
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Dec 30, 2021 at 14:43

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