In India temples all over the country distribute prasad to devotees. It is a religious practice and in many temples, it also helps those who need food.
Prasad is the food that was offered to God is distributed to devotees either in small quantity or as lunch or dinner.
There are temples who distribute prasad as midday free meal to local schools and students get benefit from nutritious food. Every day an estimated 300 million people visit places of worship in India and receive food.
Famous temples like Sringeri Sharada Peetham, Dharmasthala Manjunatha Swamy temple, ISKON, Sri Venkateshwara temple, Horanadu Annapurneshwari temple, Golden temple of Amritsar (known for world famous langar), Somanth temple, Meenakshi temple Udupi Sri Krishna temple – to name a few, examples who provide free food to devotees every day. Few temples also sell prasad in the form of laddu or other form sweets.
Do you know? Distributing food in a temple or any other places of worship like church, Gurdwara, mosque requires license from FSSAI? And it is a must that worship places also follow food safety guidelines.
When the food is prepared in larger quantity, hygiene in every aspect of food preparation should also be taken care. No doubt this is a huge challenge. Last year FSSAI visited several places of worship (in Thane) to check on food safety. The reasons for the visit was since people in large numbers visit worship places and these are high risk prone spots for spread of illness caused due to food contamination.
Food safety regulator has asked the states to roll out a project to ensure that devotees were served safe prasad, Safe and Nutritious Food (SNF) at places of worship. For this reason, FSSAI has come up with project namely “BHOG = Blissful Hygienic Offering to God”.
BHOG is part of FSSAI’s safe and nutritious food bouquet of initiatives that was initiated in 2016 and workshops were conducted for all those who handle prasad including vendors. FSSAI CEO Pawan Agarwal issued an order on January 29th regarding the BHOG project that should be implemented in every state of India. This nationwide project is supported by Association of Food Scientists & Technologist India (AFSTI). A short film on project BHOG was released recently.
As per Agarwal, “This directive is to ensure proper regulatory compliance as it is important to improve the level of food safety and hygiene in their (places of worship) premises,”. The campaign BHOG conducts training on food safety management systems, utilization of leftover flowers, fruits and vegetables, product handling and safety, quality and hygiene standards, vendor training programs etc. Recently people from Places of Worship (PoW) – Chintapurni Shakti peeth, Meenakshi Temple in Tamil Nadu and Somnath in Gujarat were sent for this training.
The second workshop on BHOG which took place in Delhi recently to review the progress of the states and to cover all worship places under this project. A guidance manual was released for self-implementation of food safety in their premises. Encouraging point is, representatives from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat shared their experience of improvement in quality of prasad after BHOG implementation at PoW.
Visit for BHOG document: http://snfportal.in/snf/data/bhog/BHOGGuidanceDocument.pdf
Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: June 4, 2019