Sunday, March 25, 2012

Iskcon Temple food in different corners of the world...

In mid-February, I got to visit my friend Kavita in Maryland. We have been friends for quite a few years now but never got around to visiting her - don't ask me why coz I really don't know! :) So when I visited her, we got to visit the the Hare Krishna Iskcon temple of DC. It was quite a surreal experience. Since it was a Sunday, we got to sit-in for a few minutes in their Open House talk. It was nice to see so many people taking part in it. Would love to visit again and attend the talk fully - really looking forward to the next trip there.

At the end of the talk, they have a vegeterian meal provided by the different volunteers. I always feel like so many of my other friends and family members that temple food has it's own significance and a flavor that cannot be replicated in anyone's kitchen. Such as during housewarming, the halwa that is shared after it has imbibed all the smells of the homam aka pyre is just out of this world. The pic below is from the meal we had in Iskcon temple, DC - it includes Rice with kadhi, veggie pakoda with a sweet and tangy Tomato chutney, Vegetable Kurma and Pineapple Sooji Halwa. And there was sweet semolina aka Simei which was again "just too good"!

Apart from the above, there was another instance where I had a great time having Iskcon temple food in Bhubaneswar, Odisha - my hometown - during one of my India trips. My mom's childhood friends Lipi Mausi and Noni Mausi took me there and that day will always remain as one of the most cherished moments of my life. They are such sweethearts and so much like my mom - always glad that my mom has them for company. I really look forward to see them during all my trips back home. Here are some pics of the Iskcon temple in Bhubaneswar and their "thali" (aka a plate of meal).

A little bit more information about the sanctity of the Hindu temple food and its norms is provided here. Proud to say that the biggest hotel in the world is holy kitchen in the Jagannath Temple Puri which serves daily multitudes of people and the food is prepared in the most hygienic and most indigenous of methods of cooking.

"Food plays a central role in rituals and worship in Hinduism, with the practice of offering food to deities ritualized in many famous temples in India. According to the Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita, “The saintly persons get relief from all kinds of sins by partaking the food that has been first offered to gods as sacrifice. But those who prepare food for their selfish ends eat but only sins” (Bhagavad Gita 3:13).”   

The offering made by devotees to god is known as ‘Prasada’ in Sanskrit, and primarily consists of rice, vegetables, sweets and fruits. Onions, garlic, mushrooms and meat are generally not offered as prasada, as the Vedic scriptures and the Ayurveda system of traditional medicine list these foods as increasing the passionate elements (e.g. sexuality, ego) of the human mind and body. 

It is usual in a Hindu temple to prepare foods that are first offered to the deities, and left in their presence for a while to satisfy their spiritual hunger.  Thereafter the food becomes a sanctified prasad, which is distributed or even sold to the assembled devotees. Each temple has its own special prasad(s) established over a long period of time, and the quantities cooked daily at the popular temples are enormous. These temples often have huge dining areas to serve food to pilgrims."

During one of the India trips, my mom had made Dahi Bara - sharing a pic of the same. Recipe is here. Enjoy! :)

In one of my posts long time back related to Rasagolla and Chennapoda in this blog, I had mentioned about the Pahala village. Sharing some pics of the same taken for you all during one of my visits back home. :)

1 comment:

Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

love that dahi bara picture... perfect - especially when made by mom...
Unfortunately pahala is no more a village !
Loved the post - took me back to my Orissa trip!