Know Why No “Foreign” Vegetables Used In Lord Jagannath’s Mahaprasad

Across regions, Prasad is seen as pious and pure, and serving bhog or food to the deities is a common practice in our country.

But different from all, Lord Jagannath, who is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu never served the prasad, which is called Mahaprasad with “foreign” vegetables like potatoes and tomatoes.

Apart from them, cauliflowers, cabbage, carrot, turnips, beetroots, corn, green peas, bell peppers, chilli peppers, coriander, beans, green beans, karelas, lady fingers, and cucumbers are also never used while preparing Mahaprasad.

Tomatoes in Odia are known as Bilati (Foreign) and Baigana (Brinjal/eggplant). This term was coined in the olden days as tomatoes were not indigenous produce and people named it in their own way. Even today if you go to a vegetable vendor in Puri and ask ‘Bilati kete?’ (how much for the foreigners), the vendor understands and tells the price of the tomatoes.

There are also many other veggies and fruits that did not originate in the known landscape at that time, so were classified as foreign and thus not used in the temple for Mahaprasad.

In the temple, masala and spices such as cardamon and cloves are added only after offering, after the Mahaprasad is brought to Ananda Bazaar. The meaning of Ananda Bazara is that which gives great happiness. This Mahaprasad of Lord Jagannath is said to have that power when it is eaten. All food offerings in both temple and home are offered in clay pots or copper plates, called kansa thalies.

Only Mahaprasad can be eaten by all together, whatever the religion or race, even on the same banana leaf. Daily 5,000 may be fed 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.

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