The Mahaprasad offered to Lord Jagannath in the holy Temple of Puri, is world famous. While the offerings for the deities in other temples in India are called prasad, those made for Jagannath are called Mahaprasad.
While thousands of devotees relish the Odia delicacies at the Anand Bazar, people also take Mahaprasad to their homes to offer it to their guests during social functions.
Mahaprasad is treated as ‘Anna Bramha’. Know 10 unknown and interesting facts about Jagannath Mahaprasad here.
1. Mahaprasad is of two types – ‘Sankudi’ and ‘Sukhila’. Sankudi Mahaprasad includes items like rice, ghee rice, mixed rice, cumin seed and asaphoetida-ginger rice mixed with salt & dishes like sweet dal, plain dal mixed with vegetables, mixed curries of different types, Saaga Bhaja (Spinach Fry), Khatta, porridge etc. Sukhila Mahaprasad consists of dry sweetmeats.
2. Another type of dry Mahaprasad is ‘Nirmalya’. This is also known as ‘Kaibalya’. In spiritual recognition Nirmalya is equally important as Mahaprasad. There is a believe among Hindus that if ‘Nirmalya’ is given to a person on his death bed, he is certain to find a place for himself in the heaven after his death following atonement of all his sins. Nirmalya is commonly understood as dry-rice i.e. rice dried up in hot sun in Kaibalya Baikuntha.
3. The Mahaprasad cooked on the premises of the temple at Ananda Bazar (abode of peace) – deemed to be the biggest open-air eatery in the world – is consumed by thousands of devotees.
4. Mahaparasad is prepared by suar nijog (temple cooks) for 20,000 people on any given day and on special occasions, they prepare food for nearly 50,000 people.
5. Prepared by 600-700 cooks and partaken by up to 50,000 pilgrims daily generating a business of Rs 8-12 lakhs, the mouth-watering “Mahaprasad” of the Jagannath Temple has retained its appeal among millions of devotees for ages.
6. Mahaprasad is only cooked in earthen pots on wood fires.
7. The steam-cooked food is offered to Lord Jagannath first and then to Goddess Bimala after which it becomes Mahaprasad.
8. When the steam cooked food is carried to Lord in slings of earthen pots no flavour comes up from the food but when the same is carried back to the sale point after being offered to the Lord a delicious smell spells along in the breeze to the pleasant surprise of the devotees. Now the food is blessed.
9. It is said that every day 56 types of Prasad are offered to the Lord during the time of worship and all these are prepared in the kitchens of the temple and sold to the devotees in Anand Bazaar by the Suaras who are the makers of the Prasad.
10. Devotees purchase and eat ‘Mahaprasad’ together forgetting their caste, creed and status in Anand Bazar or the Pleasure Mart of the Jagannath temple which is situated on the north east corner of the outer enclosure.
The SJTA now plans to deliver Mahaprasad to the doorsteps of people through online orders.
“We have planned to serve Mahaprasad to the devotees through online booking. However, we will take the decision after the approval of various nijogs (servitor groups) and the temple managing committee,” said a senior SJTA official.
Jagannath Swain Mohapatra, the chief servitor of Lord Jagannath, said the administration has to ensure devotees get unadulterated Mahaprasad from the temple kitchen.