OFFERINGS TO GOD
From the age of sixteen, I was bent on discovering the root cause of every activity of mine. Why do we make food offerings at festivals? My parents were unable to furnish a proper answer. “It is God who has given us this gift of life. Therefore we offer food to him in worship”. This is all that they could say. I was in no way satisfied with this explanation. Only those who have a body can feel the sensation of hunger. They need food. But God has no physical body. As he is pure Spirit, He has no need of food. We take the food, with our thoughts at the time fixed totally on Him. That is the principle on which our food offerings to God seem to be based. When I gave this explanation to my parents, they said I was right, and felt immensely happy. I felt I had scored a big point that day.
On Saturdays certain people formed a choir, and went around the streets, singing hymns. They set to music a particular poem of Saint Thayumanavar (who lived in the 18th century) and sang it every now and then. The words were to this effect:-
“What Power is This to which we bow With steadfast faith just now?
It is a Radiance that fills all Space. It is packed through and through with Grace. It is filled with endless Bliss. Within this Space roll a myriad world. Whose life of life it is. It transcends thought. It transcends speech. A million creeds compete; “This is our God! This is Lord!” they claim. Astounding miracles Its might proclaim. Eternal, eternal, It doth stay. Paramount is Its Power. It is a Flood of Joy most bright. It knows no bounds of day or night. To each, It seems just right. It is a Vision which complete silence fills. Oh, with peace our souls It thrills! This, This, is the Power to Which we pray With love and hope all day! This song won my heart completely. It is this teaching that confirmed to me the conviction that God is without form or shape. In mid-January, on the day of Pongal, we cooked pastries without salt and offered them to the Sun. I asked why we did not add salt. All the answer I got was that it would be wrong to add salt in dishes dedicated to the sun and that it is something that is simply not done.
I pointed out that we were wrong. On some occasion in the past, an autocratic mother law might have forgotten to add salt before baking the pastry. After worship was over, The daughter in law would have drawn her attention to the deficiency. To cover her own lapse, the mother in law with her glib tongue, would have declared at once that, it was the way to prepare an offering meant for the Sun god! The gullible daughter in law had continued the practice, and so it became a tradition with us, generation after generation! My Father and my Mother split their sides with laughter.Ever after, they were careful to add salt in that dish which they offered on Pongal days.