Please tell us about the importance of offering food (Prasad) to the Divine before eating. Also please tell us the authentic way of offering food. Is there any mantra needed?
When a lady cooks food at home, the first thing she does is takes out a spoon of rice, or dal, or whatever she cooks, and puts it outside in the garden for the birds, for the ants, and for the creatures. The significance of this is to say that the environment should be honoured.
Also, many people, before they eat, they keep a few grains outside their plate and then later on they give it to the birds and the animals.
In India, there is a tradition that is called Vaishva Deva.
You know, the birds are such an integral part of the universe. So we need to care for the birds, we need to care for the ants; we need to care for every single creature. Any one creature missing from the universe, the universe will not be able to sustain itself.
Prasad means, you take the food that you receive as a gift; as a blessing. Prasad simply means a blessing from God. Food is a blessing, life is a blessing, time is a blessing, our breath is a blessing. These are all gifts.