The living presence of the Deities means that they are offered food at regular times throughout the day. These offerings are each called a thal (pronounced ‘thaal’), and is a way to express devotion to God and thanksgiving for the food he has blessed us with.
At least three meals are offered to the Deities throughout the day – breakfast in the morning (after Mangala Arti), lunch at midday (before Rajbhog Arti), and dinner in the evening (just before or after Sandhya Arti). In addition, a platter of fresh and dry fruits and fresh fruit juice is offered mid-afternoon.
Like the arti, each thal is accompanied by prayers sung to the accompaniment of musical instruments, with the sung thal being different for each time of the day.
The prayers of the thal are offered in a spirit of deep reverence, adoration and meditative awareness. The food in turn is sanctified by the offering, and becomes what is known as prasad (pronounced ‘prasaad’), or sanctified food. In Sanskrit, ‘prasad’ also means grace and joy, implying that partaking of prasad is partaking of God’s grace and leads to spiritual joy beyond the physical nourishment or taste provided by the food itself.
If you would like to hear the concluding thal prayer sung at the Mandir after the Rajbhog Arti, please click here.