Here is a piece of good news for lakhs of devotees of Puri's Jagannath temple, residing in different parts of the country and abroad. If you stay outside the Orissa's temple town and want to have the famous "mahaprasad" of the important shrine while sitting at home, your desire will certainly be fulfilled, thanks to an unique scheme.
The second meaning of MAHAPRASAD is “MA-PRASAD" for the main thali must be taken to Mother Bimala’s temple and returned and mixed in all the other pots offered before it is considered fit to be eaten by Lord Jagannath. Only then can it be distributed to all, without distinction of caste or creed.
Only MAHAPRASAD can be eaten by all together, whatever the religion or race, even on the same banana leaf. Daily 5,000 may be feed, but on big festival days, one to ten million. The temple kitchen of Lord Jagannath is considered to be the biggest hotel in the world, serving all without reservation or previous notice.
MAHAPRASAD originated in the remote past in connection with Jagannath in His original form of "Neela Madhava". The tribal chief "Biswabasu" in the Nilagiri mountains of Orissa daily gave fruits to the deity at the time of worship. But in this forest area, there were no rice paddies or fields of vegetables growing. When Biswabasu opened the temple doors in the morning with his meagre offering of fruits, he would find daily huge quantities of rice dishes and especially delicious curries. Biswabasu was taken aback. People said gods and goddesses would come at night from the whole universe and Heaven itself to have DARSHAN. They would offer the best dishes of Rice, Dal, and Sweets. The spiritual fragrance of this holy food was overpowering, so all knew it had to be of divine origin.
Even today, the taste of MAHAPRASAD cannot be duplicated outside the temple. It is also the direct experience of devotees inside that when cooks carry the BHOG from the kitchen to the temple, it has no fragrance, no sweet aroma. But after offering, when they carry it from the temple to ANANDA BAZAAR(The Place where the MAHAPRASAD is offered to the public) for sale, it smells divinely sweet. In the process of puja, it is blessed by all the gods and goddesses, and by Lord Jagannath Himself. At the time of food offering, only the three priests doing the puja are allowed to be inside. It is felt Lord Jagannath is actually "taking His food" at this time.
Actually it is told that MAHAPRASAD is cooked by no one but Mother Lakshmi Herself; all are felt to be Her servants. As she is not attentive to the cooking on the days when Lord Jagannath is said to be sick before "RATH YATRA", the food is less tasty. During RATH YATRA, when Lord Jagannath is in another temple, called "GUNDICHA TEMPLE", she is said to have no mind to cook and the food is totally tasteless.
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