Sunday, September 10, 2017

Eating Prayer | Bhojana Vidhi or Parishechana - Eating Procedure With Sanskrit Prayer

The 'Eating Prayer' is a traditional religious practice that is rendered combined with some spiritual rituals as per the Hindu customs of the Brahmin and Vaishnava communities while eating meals both the times of a day.  

Actually, it is a procedure wherein we utter some Sanskrit prayer before eating food while performing some rituals involving the water.

It is also known as Bhojana Vidhi by some of those people and as Parishechanam also by many others.
Parisheshanam is spelled as parishEchana in Sanskrit (పరిషేచనము in Telugu).

This practice is widely seen in Southern India where they recite some mantra before eating food even at public places.

The significance of this practice is that it establishes the respect, sanctity, and value that we attach to the food which is a divine gift to us.

Further, by practicing this custom, we are offering the first grains of the food to the heavenly Gods before we ourselves eat it.

Please note that this ritual is to be performed only by those who have undergone the Upanayanam ceremony and are wearing the sacred thread daily.

Three parts of Parishechanam or Bhojana Vidhi

This custom of doing Pariseshanam is divided into three parts to have a better understanding of the procedure. They are:
  1. Aabhojanam (before starting to eat) - ఆభోజనము 
  2. PrANAhuti (offering food to the Supreme Soul) - ప్రాణాహుతి 
  3. UttarAbhojanam (after completion of eating food) - ఉత్తరాభోజనం 

The below video presents this ritual of doing the parishechana or the eating prayer:

1) Aabhojanam

This is a ritual done before taking the meal. Aa + BhOjanam refers to the procedure to be followed prior to eating.

When we sit for the meals, we will be served with the food in a leaf or plate along with water in a glass.

After the food is served, before starting the meal, you need to sprinkle some drops of water around your plate twice chanting some slokas and then drink some drops of water to start the meal.

It is done in the following manner.

i) Take some drops of water into your right hand, chant the Gayatri mantra of "Om bhoor bhuva........" while circumambulating the water around your plate.

ii) Again take some drops of water and chant "Sathyam Twarthena Parishinchaami" while sprinkling the water again around the food. (It is a combination of the words "Satyam + thva + Ruthena). The meaning of it is that "I am sprinkling water around Sathyam and Righteousness". (Both Sathyam and Right mean the same thing and they refer to the "Food" which is the Eternal Truth in this context. You may also refer to "Annam Parabrahmam" which means Food is equal to the Supreme God. So, by sprinkling water around it, you are paying your respects to the Supreme Being.)

While performing this ritual at dinner time, you need to chant "Rutham thva satyena Parishinchaami".

iii) Now, again take some drops of water in the right hand and drink it chanting this mantra.
"AmruthOpastharaNamasi". Here, "Amrutham" refers to the heavenly nectar. "Apastharanam" refers to the spreading nature of water or liquid. "Asi" is uttered to proclaim some Omen. It means "Let it Be". So, the meaning of "AmruthOpastharaNamasi" is that "Let You Be the Spreading Nectar".
But, in this context, the meaning of this mantra must be that "Let You (God) Be the Receiver of this Food".

2) PrANAhuti or Praanaahuthi

This is the step of offering food to God before eating it oneself. It is a kind of Thanksgiving to God for providing you with the Food and the Life that you are able to enjoy daily with His grace.

You need to take some grains of the cooked, ghee-mixed rice by picking it from the plate with your three auspicious fingers of the thumb, the middle finger and the ring finger and swallow it without using the teeth. Because you are offering it to God, you are not supposed to chew it and enjoy the food while doing so. Repeat this procedure for six times, each time chanting one mantra each of the following six mantras in the given sequence.

These mantras refer to the most important element of your life which is the breath and its related controlling activities in your body.

i) Om PrANAya Swahaaha (This is the principal breath providing you the life)
ii) Om ApAnAya Swaahaaha (This controls the excretion process)
iii) Om VyAnAya Swaahaaha (This is responsible for the circulation activities)
iv) Om UdhaanAya Swaahaaha (This controls the respiratory process)
v) Om SamaanAya Swaahaaha (This is the center and controls the digestion process)
vi) Om BrahmaNE Swaahaaha (This function links your soul with God and refers to immortality also)

So, by offering the food to all these processes of your life, you are improving your health conditions and, in the end, are able to associate yourself with self-realization.

3) Uttaraabhojanam

This is the last step of Parishechanam to be performed after completely eating your food.

After finishing the meals, take some drops of water again into your palm and drink half of it and circumambulate the rest around the meal plate chanting this mantra of "AmruthOpastaraNamasi".

The meaning of this mantra is that " Let you be the abode of immortality". You are praising the value of the food and water consumed by you and at the same time wishing for a long blessed life from God. It is also a kind of Thanksgiving to God for blessing you with this tasty, energetic food.

No comments:

Post a Comment