Hindu Culture
MATERIALS FOR PUJA - PRASHAD

The importance of puja has been accepted in daily activities of a Hindu. The religious teachers say that we should perform pujas for the God who looks after us from the time we are in the mother's womb till we die. Certain symbols have been chosen for this puja. Leaf, flower, fruit, water, red turmeric powder (kanku), etc. are necessary for puja. The rich and the poor alike perform puja with these ordinary looking symbols. This means that God values devotion more than material things. It is necessary to perform puja to thank or appreciate God who has given so much. The puja is not to stand before God with folded hands and beg for materialistic comforts. Such pujas turn out to be hollow, hypocritical and useless.
Leaf and flower are symbols of Puja. It shows that man is also a valuable flower of this world-garden. Its fragrance is his good deeds. In this way fruits inspire man to bring happiness in life by doing good deeds. Water is considered holy. It is formless. It takes the shape of whichever vessel it is poured into. So devotion is in proportion to one's intentions. And God is therefore matched to one's devotion. So weight is put on the performer of the puja. The puja will only be successful with the use of symbols of puja if our intentions are also pure. Red turmeric powder nadachhadi have also been considered as pure or holy from a religious point, and so there is their importance also.
There is one religious meaning hidden in puja the samagri (materials) and prashad. God's hand or help is present in all our work. One who stands by one's actions has the right to be in his family. So it is God's puja when we offer a portion from our earnings at his feet. It is not only rich people's work or duty to take out God's portion. God is responsible for everyone's lives - both rich and poor. So everyone should offer according to one's capacity for the welfare of the society. Money which is offered and collected in our temples is a symbol of Dev dravya and so it should be spent on human welfare. Otherwise this fund is wasted. People have forgotten to do good deeds with the loosening control of religion in their lives. Man is indulging in worldly pleasures instead of being devotional to God. Because of this the society has lost honesty and has become pale.' without life and light or simply lifeless. Man has forgotten dignity and majesty of self and God and instead has become self-willed. God does not like the outward show of hypocritical pujas which are performed to nourish ones ego and obtain prestige in the society only. One cannot please God with any of such false pujas. God's blessings are reaped only if our intentions are pure and the means of acquisitions for fulfillment of these intentions are also pure.
To conclude, whatever we have is given to us by God only. And so to use what has been given by Him after first offering it to Him is called Prashad. Prashad means God's blessings. Life is only sweet if there is God's blessings. We prepare and distribute prashad made from ghee, sugar-candy, milk and wheat so that love comes into our life. So God has not forgotten us today. The true puja is to resolve not to forget God but rather perform his Puja daily or regularly.