Food As A Hindu Offering to the Gods

Hindu Offering Oil Painting, Still Life by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar

Hindu Offering at Munja Ceremony

This still life oil painting was inspired by travel to India.

My husband, Anand’s Hindu Munja (Thread) Ceremony was in Pune, India in January of 2002. Foods common to the people become Hindu offerings for the Gods. Coconuts atop a disk of jaggery (raw, unprocessed sugar), oranges, apples, nuts,basmati rice and mangoe leaves for the God Ganesh to eat –his favorite, I’m told by the Brahmin priest.

Precious metals like copper and silver, natural fibers like cotton and silks and other elements like water and fire complete the ceremony items.

There were several photographs that I considered before choosing this one and the fire ceremony. In particular, this Hindu offering is rich in color, texture and has a vitality to it that some still life paintings lack. I was very curious to paint rice. Up close, the brush strokes decompose but at a distance they are quite discernable as rice.

This piece is commemorative for the Thread Ceremony experience and, while just a small painting measuring 9″ x 12″, it holds up well under scrutiny. I take quite a bit of pleasure from others who take a moment to enjoy the textures and colors assembled so casually by the priest.

Hindu offerings, while assembled from common items, and to the best of my knowledge, are not carefully arranged unless the priest is an artist. Rather, there is a studied carelessness to them that I find appealing. Items are stacked or grouped together on a hand-towel or other small piece of natural fiber fabric. The goal of the priest is to appease the gods not create a still life.

On one occasion, I couldn’t help myself and arranged the objects holding the Hindu offering items a bit more carefully to get better photos. The priests were amused, nor did they seem to mind the American girl.


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