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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why do we offer Coconut in Temple




Sage Vishwamitra is said to have got the first coconut tree grown on this earth by the power of his tapas, or austerities. Its hard shell inspires one to have tolerance and do hard work for attaining success. The coconut is also broken before a deity in the temple, signifying the soul's breaking out of the shell of the ego. People get strength and improved eyesight by eating its white kernel.

In India one of the most common offerings in a temple is a coconut. It is also offered on occasions like weddings, festivals, the use of a new vehicle, bridge, house etc. It is offered in the sacrificial fire whilst performing homa. The coconut is broken and placed before the Lord. It is later distributed as prasaad.

The fiber covering of the dried coconut is removed except for a tuft on the top. The marks on the coconut make it look like the head of a human being. The coconut is broken, symbolizing the breaking of the ego. The juice within, representing the inner tendencies (vaasanas) is offered along with the white kernel - the mind, to the Lord.

A mind thus purified by the touch of the Lord is used as prasaada ( a holy gift). In the traditional abhisheka ritual done in all temples and many homes, several materials are poured over the deity like milk, curd, honey, tender coconut water, sandal paste, holy ash etc. Each material has a specific significance of bestowing certain benefits on worshipers. Tender coconut water is used in abhisheka rituals since it is believed to bestow spiritual growth on the seeker.

The marks on the coconut are even thought to represent the three-eyed Lord Shiva and therefore it is considered to be a means to fulfill our desires.



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