The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes The Procedure for Naivedya which is chapter 9 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the ninth chapter of the Margashirsha-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 9 - The Procedure for Naivedya

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Brahmā said:

1. O Lord, tell me the procedure for Naivedya (food-offering) as it is actually practised. State fully how many kinds of cooked food are desired and what are the side dishes etc.?

Śrī Bhagavān said:

2. Well asked by you, O dear one. It is extremely liked by me. I shall state fully the (varieties) of food, drinks etc. and side dishes as well.

3. The first thing is a gold plate.[1] If it is not available a silver one can be used. If that is not available, a Pālāśa plate that is large and beautiful should be used.

4. Hundreds of Kacolas should be made and placed all round in the vessel, O sinless one. In its middle the side dishes must be placed. They should be splendid and must consist of different kinds of fruits.

5. In the vessel there must be milk-pudding resembling the moon (in colour) with sugar adequately added to it.

Rice should resemble white lilies. Mudga pulse should be splendid and crystal like.

6-7. Different kinds of pickles and condiments must be placed in between. The foodstuffs should be arranged in three rows. There must be various kinds of side dishes with fruits and roots mixed with lemon juice. There must be hundreds of such varieties of side dishes in the food offered to me. Grapes should be mixed with good mango and Karamarda (Carissa carandas).

8. Pepper, long pepper, ginger and cardamom should be mixed. They should be boiled and Kathikās[2](?) should be prepared in hundreds for my food (Naivedya).

9. Pralehanas (broths or articles for licking) should be made along with hundreds of Kacolas(?). They should be rendered fragrant by means of many flowers. During the month of Mārgaśīrṣa they are very much liked by me.

10. Maṇḍakas (a thin flat circular cake-like dish) beautiful, circular, even and symmetrical everywhere like (the arithmetical figure for) zero, along with boiled milk mixed with sugar should be kept therein.

11-12. In that foodstuff of mine (mixed) with the milk of cow, having the colour of honey, sweet-smelling ghee must be affectionately and devoutly poured, O dear one, the ghee that is kept in a lustrous Kacola (vessel of wheat flour). It must be sparkling with cardamom.

13. He should prepare Pūrikās (thin pan-cakes fried in edible oil or ghee) mixed with (sufficient quantity) of asafoetida (each) having a hundred holes and with Veṣṭikās (savouries made of ground flour of rice, gram etc. and shaped in many coils and fried in oils). He also should get prepared Apūpa (small pies) and varieties of milk-preparations.

14. These sweet pies should be strung together like jewels and beads or Mālatī flowers etc. There must be Parpaṭas and Varpaṭas (circular cake-like stuff made of flour and dried in the sun to be fried in oil i.e. pāpaḍs and Varpaṭas are other stuffs similarly prepared in coils, cones, globular ones etc. made of flour or vegetables dried—all to be fried) beautifully prepared from Māṣa pulse or Kūṣmāṇḍas (ash gourds).

15. In the month of Mārgaśīrṣa nine kinds of Vaṭakas should be beautifully prepared and offered to me. (They are made of dough of pulse and prepared like cutlets.) Two types of Vaṭakas are prepared with Jātī (nutmeg), Maricī (pepper) etc. and put in big wooden troughs.

16. One type is prepared in highly refined oil. Salt is put (in the dough before preparing the Vaṭakas). The other type is devoid of Sneha (oil, love) like wicked people. They have the colour of saffron. They appear to be full of holes.

17. Some are put in curds and milk; some in tamarind or mango juice. Some are put in grape juice and some in sugarcane juice.

18. Others are put in black mustard water. Some with sugar along with the four kinds of juice mentioned before. These are considered the nine kinds of Vaṭakas.

19-22. The following thiṅgs should be mixed together and boiled well in a big cauldron: very small seeds of Buchanania latifolia lustrous like diamonds and Sukhārikas (?), bits of coconut kernels and a hundred cloves, ghee, milk, sugar etc. (This foodstuff is also one of the Naivedyas.) There must be glossy smooth Pheṇikās (sweetmeats with wheat flour fried in ghee in the form of coils). These Pheṇikās must be served along with the dark-coloured Kṛsaras (sweet balls made of white gingelly seeds). Polikās (Pāpaḍ-like cakes deep-fried) with cardamoms and camphor must be cooked (i.e. fried) in Parākikās (? large circular cauldrons).

Modakas (a variety of sweetmeats) must be made with Cārabījas (seeds of Buchanania latifolia).

Others must be made with sugar and soaked in milk. Other varieties should be made with coconut fruits (i.e. kernels) and still others with exudations of trees.

23. Other sweetmeats are to be prepared with almond seeds and splendid sweets with gingelly seeds and cummin seeds. These sweetmeats and still others (not mentioned here) should be made for propitiating me.

24-29. Pickles of the following fruits etc. should be made for propitiating me in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa: (The fruits mentioned below can be used separately or in groups of two, three or four as mixed pickles.) the bulbous root of Mocanī (Solanum jacquine, a species of plant which cures piles), ginger, Karamardaka (Carīssa carandas), orange, tamarind, Kaṃkola (?), Daśāra (?) Tripurījāta (? originating from that city), the splendid lemon fruit, lotus stalk, Tindu fruit (Diospyros embryopteris), clove, Tilaka (Sypiocos racemosa?), Bilva (Aaglemarmelos), Luti (?) Valkala (bark of Cassia), Vaṃśakarīra (sugarcane manna), Kāyaphala (Emblica officinalis), Bala (Crataeva roxburghie), grape fruit, mango fruit, beautiful Kaṇṭakinī fruit (Vanguiera spimosa?), Dhātrī fruit, fruit of Tamarindus indica (?) and Aṃbādava fruit (?), plantain, long pepper and chillies. These should be soaked in pure mustard oil and salt must be added to taste. They should be seasoned with mustard. They must be put in an earthen pot and kept for three years before use. Such pickles, bestower of honour, should be offered to me in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa. They are pleasing to me.

30. If the devotee is incapable of offering all these foodstuffs, he should do as follows. I shall state it succinctly.

31. The devotee who offers one Laḍḍū (sweetmeat) and one Pūra (Pūrī or circular pan-cakes deep-fried in ghee), two Pheṇas (coiled and deep-fried in ghee) three Kokarasas (wild date fruit extract), sixteen Māṇḍakas (pastries, soaked in ghee) and eight Vaṭakas will never see a hell.

32-33. Half an Āḍhaka (a measure) of milk kept over for a long time, sixteen Palas of sugar-candy resembling the moon in lustre, one Pala of ghee, one Pala of honey, two Karṣas of pepper and half a Pala of dried ginger (the last mentioned four may each be half a Pala)—all the above-mentioned ingredients should be well-mixed and ground into a paste in a smooth soft cloth with her slender hands by a woman. They should then be put into a pot rendered white (glittering) by means of camphor powder. He who makes this juicy stuff, may wish for anything. I will grant that man all he wishes for.

Notes regarding dishes offered:

Offering of food, fruits and other eatables to the deity is an important Upacāra. Generally, ‘whatever food a man (devotee) eats, the same food is to be offered to his deities’ (VR, Ayodhyā 103,30, 104.15 as quoted by Medhātithi on Manu V.7). The list of vegetarian dishes as given here in vv 5-30 are hyper-sanskritised forms of the names of dishes still current in Maharashtra, e.g. Maṇḍaka for Marathi (M) Māṇḍe, Laḍḍu for (M) Lāḍu; Polikā for (M) Poḷī, Modaka, the same in (M), Pūrīkā for (M) Purī, Parpaṭa for (M) Pāpaḍ, Kathikā for (M) Kaḍhī (both are derivable from SK ^kvath ‘to boil’); Vaṭaka for (M) Vaḍā, Pheṇikā for (M) Pheṇī, to mention a few. The cuisine is the same as found in Maharashtrian kitchens. This shows the Purāṇa-writer’s intimate familiarity with Maharashtra.

It is to be noted that this Naivedya is ‘as it is actually practised’ (vl) at the time of this Purāṇa.

Footnotes and references:


Padma Purāṇa as quoted in Smṛti-Candrikā states that Naivedya should be offered in a vessel of gold, silver or Palāśa leaves but adds vessels of bronze, copper, clay or a lotus leaf.


Hyper-sanskritization of Kaḍhī.

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