Steps Through Food
Hiten and I had taken a few steps along Williams Parkway before his dad would pick us up for the drive to the ISKCON Centre in downtown Brampton. I had spent the night at the family’s home. I assumed, he is 14 and raised in Canada, to be a supporter of the local hockey team. I had noticed the wallpaper in his room with Toronto Maple Leafs as the border trim. It seemed to make a clear statement.
“You’re a hockey fan?”
“I’m not following it too much,” he admitted.
I know that he’s a fan of computers. That’s pretty normal. He loves food. Who wouldn’t, at that age? He also is fond of Krishna, which is a plus. His parents tell me that he and his sister, Edha, take pleasure in bringing the tray of bhoga (food not yet offered to Krishna) up the stairs and then into their home’s temple room. The tray of fruit, almonds, and rich cooked parathas is placed on the shrine before the deity of Krishna.
The standard practice is that you present for the pleasure of Krishna, represented by a deity, food that’s prepared with love and devotion. You chant some mantras before the deity as a way to say, “Please accept this humble offering of food as a token of gratitude. This is all your mercy.” After the few mantras are recited, one may take the tray of food, which is now consecrated, and is called prasadam. This blessed food is then distributed to those in the proximity of the offering place or the home.
In the household where Hiten lives, he and his sister bring the tray of prasadam from the upstairs temple room down to the kitchen, and then eat with enthusiasm the shared prasadam.
This ancient practice of prasadam disbursement has gone on for thousands of years in India, especially involving the temples of Krishna. This practice is also kept alive in places like the ISKCON Centre in Brampton, where really tasty yogic food meets the tongue such as mine. Hiten and Edha found the vegetarian feast that was held there to be absolutely delicious. The feast was held after a moving ceremony of diksa. Two people received initiation. Nikhil’s new name is Nimai Nitai, and his wife, Manakshi, has a new Sanskrit name, Moksha Lila. Congratulations to them.
May the Source be with you!