On the longest day of the year, it’s customary to celebrate the light of summer which guides our way with food festivities within our communities. Gratitude plays a big part in marking the achievements reached at mid-year, and the sacred element is often equally as important in how to prepare, share and receive the nourishment of food as part of the communal celebrations.
The longest day occurs when one of the Earth's poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern and Southern). It is a time when many communities practice ancient rituals and in many countries, herbs are harvested on the solstice evening, especially those believed to have potent medicinal properties, such as St John's Wort.
The concept of conscious eating is now quite familiar to many people, this is especially true at times when you want to ground yourself in the lifestyle beliefs and practices you have chosen to commit your life to.
For me while growing up, the sacred practice of sharing ‘Prasad’ was a familiar experience in the Indian side of my family. Prasad or Prasāda is a devotional offering made to God. It typically consists of food that is later shared among the people gathered. It is vegetarian food that is a religious offering in both Hinduism and Sikhism. Sometimes this vegetarian offering may exclude ‘prohibited’ foodstuff such as garlic, onion and roots etc. simply because of their stimulating properties.
There are many forms of sacramental food offerings practised across the world, such breaking bread together and receiving during holy communion. ’Prasada' literally means a gracious gift, it is a way of infusing food with sacred love. This concept is a wonderful way to think about how you can add positive energy to your food, making the shared experience even more precious with those around you.
The food is blessed as part of a sacred ceremony and consumed with reverence and gratitude. As a child I always looked forward to the receiving my little portion of delicious sweet tasting Prasad at the end of devotional prayers. Traditionally Prasad dishes are a small serving of cooked home-made Indian sweets or savouries, or a piece of fruit, which is served after devotional rituals like communal songs and prayers.
Providing communal offerings for your guests or group on the summer solstice or mid-summers day (June 21st in 2019, in the northern hemisphere), is a lovely way to get closer and more connected to family and friends, while you feed into the solstice energy provided in the ripening summer harvests you are about to consume.
Your simple bite size raw plant-based dishes could consist of things like:
-2-3 plump soaked almonds (soak over night for 12 hours)
-savoury (laddu) or sweet bliss or energy balls
-stuffed olives or dried prunes
-plantain or cucumber bites (slices topped with hummus or guacamole etc.)
-bite size summer berries
When offering Prasad, it is the attitude that matters, it is one of complete love and reverence. Remember to bless your food first before consuming it, being grateful for the energy that has gone into providing and preparing it will make it taste all the better. Usually only small portions are shared and eaten, allowing for easy digestion and absorption of the nutrients.
Wishing you a wonderful mid-summers day!
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