Author: Sujata Shukla Rajan
Bhog Naivedya delves into the origins of sacred foods in India and brings forth its incredible diversity. Brilliantly researched and engagingly written, Sujata’s book is peppered with delectable tales from mythology, sumptuous temple lore, the aromatic linkages with kings and saints, mouth-watering food descriptions and much more. Travel from Badarinath Dham in the Himalayas to the Krishna temples at Mathura and Nathdwara to discover the lovingly-performed food rituals. Visit the Jyotirlinga of Kasi Vishwanath temple…
Review by SpizeVilla:
- “Bhog Naivedyam:- Food Offerings to the Gods” is Sujata Shukla Rajan’s first nonfiction book. In this delightful book on Bhog, the food fed to the gods in temples across the country, Shukla’s passions for gastronomy, history, myth, and travel come together. Bhog is not to be confused with prasad, which refers to the food items distributed to the assembly after service. Shukla goes to great lengths to place each temple in a complex web of myth and history, peppering the narrative with juicy tidbits from her own ethnographic research at each site. These personal details add realism to stories.
- The chapter on the Shiridi Sai Baba mandir, which explores Shiridi beyond the Sai Baba mandir, the aside on the Jammah Mapilahs of Coorg’s syncretism, and the Pongal festival of Thiruvananthapuram are among my favourites. The passage on the devara kadus also spoke to my own sense of environmental awareness.
The book is neatly organised in chapters focusing around different deities, complete with comprehensive endnotes, a glossary, and a table of the temples discussed, with a sound and intelligent introduction. Given the breadth of field and research work described in the introduction, I am confident that this is the first in a series of culinary narratives that will place Shukla firmly in the culinary and Indian literary landscapes.
- Some novels are only published once in a lifetime, and Bhog Naivedyam is one of them!
- There are few books that cater to the crossroads of religious and culinary interests, as well as culture and temple lore. Exquisitely written, with a rich blend of religious beliefs underpinning the activities, Diety specific customs across India’s most important temples, and practical insights on puja timings and offerings delivered!! As the author correctly points out, this is not an entire list of Indian temples and offerings, but rather an incredible tour across them all.
- If you are interested in cuisine, Hindu temples, ceremonial conduct, Indian culture, or any combination of the above, there will be something in the book for you, as the author states in her prologue.
- Bhog Naivedya is a detailed description of food offerings made to numerous deities worshipped across the country. Given that India is a melting pot of cultures, it’s reasonable to expect different types of devotion in different sections of the country. Bhog Naivedya is divided into chapters, each of which describes the process and types of food that are served to the deity, as well as the origins of the tradition.
- The book covers everything from the ingredients that go into the main dish to the prasad offerings and other rituals that go along with the offering process. It’s worth noting that at some temples, the food offering is accompanied by music.
- It’s worth noting that in some temples, the food giving is accompanied with song singing. Some temples also require that meals be served in certain utensils, like as clay chulhis. Bhog Naivedya tracks our country’s multi-cultural treasure, which includes a varied range of food dishes as well as fascinating stories about how they are served. Who knew the stories behind each food product could be woven together to create their own food web?
- Overall, Bhog Naivedya is a well researched work that delivers deep knowledge that may add a new dimension to the concept of dedication! The storey is interlaced with folktales and beliefs that have been passed down through the generations. This is unquestionably a must-read!!
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