All Hindu rituals have one powerful intention: to turn our senses inward. With the help of different forms of rituals and poojas, we are able to successfully tune our external, pleasure-seeking senses, to internally seeking the Divine.
This is why, We offer all that we enjoy, to Radha Vallabh Ji. With such offerings, We believe that the bondage associated with such external pleasures is taken away from us, and we align with the divine.
Here, consider the next powerful sense that binds us. If you take away the lure of our senses from external beauty, melody and fragrance, what is the next thing they crave? Yes, taste. We are powerfully ruled by our taste-buds. It is for this reason that we offer “Bhog” or food to the Lord.
Raaj Bhog is offered at temples at mid-day (around 12 noon) as the main meal offering to the Lord. Literally translated, it means, “food fit for the King”. This has the following special attributes:
- The meal comprises of sweets, savories, dry fruits, fresh salad, (fruit) juices, rice, lentils (dhal and vegetable curry) and more. On special occasions and Hindu festivals, as many as 108food items are offered during Raaj Bhog.
- All food items are “saatvic”, meaning high-energy food. Accordingly, the food is freshly cooked and vegetarian, without onion and garlic (as these items symbolize tamasic properties and can cause laziness and inertia in us).
- It is said that even if a glance from a devotee falls on the food, the food no longer remains pure for offering to the Lord. It is for this reason that the food items are covered. In fact, the Alter of the dirty is covered (usually with a cloth) during the actual ritual of offering food to the Lord.
- Before offering, the Bhog is called “Naivedya”. Once it is accepted by the Lord (through the Raaj Bhog ritual),it is shared with devotees as Prasaad (Blessing).
- Once the offering is complete, The Raaj Bhog Aarati is offered to mark the Thakur ji’s acceptance of the food-offering.
- After the offering of Raaj Bhog Aaratiand Prasad is shared with devotees.