Thanksgiving Offerings

Update for 18 February 2010

Many cultures in India have traditions of thanksgiving. At times they are at home, centred around the house-shrine, while many people prefer to offer their gratitude at places of worship. So if it is Tuesday, you will see serpentine queues outside temples with people carrying flower garlands, coconuts, sweetmeat boxes, incense sticks, some sugar candy and at times, a few crisp notes or shiny coins. On Wednesdays, you may see a similar line-up outside Catholic churches – as people add candles to their basket of offering, and may omit the coconut and the sweetmeats. On Thursdays, people swarm little shrines dedicated to a Saint carrying saffron head-cloths. Visitors and faithfuls heading out on Friday would be seen congregating at mausoleums with their offerings in hand – with many adding shiny, satiny green sheets. All of them would have asked for favours from an unknown, unmet force, and at times, they would return to pay obeisance when fulfilled, while others would not wait for the fulfillment, since they have immense faith in their prayers. But almost in all cases where food items are taken in as offering, like the coconuts, fruits, sweetmeats, sugar candy; the priest or conductor of the shrine or place of worship, will always take only half of it and return the other half to the faithful offeror. The faithful then does as he chooses, of either partaking morsels of it as manna from the divine, or taking all home to one’s family and friends, or even distribute it to other faithfuls who have gathered at the place of worship.

Today’s final tally at D Street, when the SENSEX fell 101 points reminded me of the Thanksgiving Offerings. The D Boyz had pushed up the SENSEX 202 points yesterday and in return, they got a 101 points down on the SENSEX today – exactly half of what they offered yesterday. Though the drop is a three digit number, it is not so significant given that it represents only a 0.62% variation, especially when the last 2 days saw an out of the usual 390 points up. Renewed hopes of the Reliable US tie-must have got the D Boyz the jitters (read yesterday’s update), while some metal sheets were pounded to earn profits. SENSEX rested today at 16328.   

Some places of worship also have traditions of returning edible favours, Prasad. The usual suspects are sugar candy, or sliced coconut, but at times variations trickle in, like sweet fried gram batter, boondi, or sweet milk solids, pedha. But most of the temples in South India only offer vermillion and ash or sandalwood; they prefer to hawk their Prasad. Curiously, temples run by South Indians elsewhere like in Mumbai, Delhi or even Singapore and Malaysia still offer Prasad to all visitors, and most of the time, these are more elaborate than the customary candy, or boondi, or pedha.



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