“Prasadarians” is a prime example of just how powerful Facebook can be when used in the right way.
Started by Mexican devotee Mahattama Dasi in 2012 when she was in remission from cancer and looking for a service she could do from home, it immediately exploded into a hugely popular group of 7,000 members, all sharing beautiful photos of food offerings (prasadam) to their Deities, along with recipes and stories.
Today, after it was hacked and members had to leave and rejoin to save the page, there are just under 3,500 members.
But the group, which includes renowned ISKCON chef Kurma Das, Prabhupada’s personal servant Srutakirti Das, and other senior devotees such as Gurudas and Arundhati Dasi, is growing quickly again. For while it follows ISKCON standards of food preparation and offering, it’s open to all.
The group’s main page is a colorful notice board for member posts in which they share photos and descriptions of their latest offerings to their Deities. The photos depict not only the stunningly gorgeous dishes of so many devotees around the world; they also show the members’ beautifully dressed Deities accepting the offerings. It’s a glimpse into the private devotional lives of devotees everywhere.
The page also includes several other tabs. Under “Events,” members can find out when the next Ekadasi, a day during which devotees fast from grains, is coming up. They can also share questions and suggestions about its observance, along with recipes.
The Events section also contains other events depending on the time of year. Recently, it featured a page for the sacred month of Kartik, which runs from October to November. There, members shared photos of candles being offered to their home Deities that left a warm glow in the viewer’s heart.
Another tab, “Questions and Answers,” features inquiries about prasadam, such as “Is chocolate offerable?” or “Can I offer bread made at home in a bread machine?”
Finally, under “Files,” members can find recipes without having to scroll through posts on the main page, and under “Photos” they can find pictures arranged by album.
Prasadarians is a powerful outreach tool, attracting some newcomers to begin offering their food to Krishna after visiting it. It also guides newcomers on their path, with senior devotees offering hints and tips about how to increase their standard of prasadam preparation and Deity worship.
“We’re encouraging and enthusing people that are already on the path, but are perfecting their ways by being Prasadarian members,” says Mahattama.
The page even inspires longtime devotees – veteran ISKCON cook Sunanda Das, for example, published the first in a series of books on quantity cooking that he had been planning for a long time after becoming a member of the group.
Prasadarians also shows many examples of movingly sincere devotion. One stalwart member, a young boy who religiously posts photos of all the meals he prepares with his mother and offers to the Lord, recently revealed to Mahattama that he had no hands.
Lately, the page has also become a medium to share stories of how prasadam has impacted people’s lives.
One member, Dineesh, described how he invited Jehovah’s Witnesses into his home when they knocked on his door, and showed them how he offered food to his Jagannath Deities. When they asked why it was important to offer our food to God, he explained that everything comes from the Lord, so we should offer it back as a token of our gratitude. Extremely appreciative, the Jehovah’s Witnesses stayed to take prasadam with him.
The next day, they returned with a priest, who also wanted to see Dineesh’s Deities and learn about the process of offering food. After his visit, the priest was so impressed that he returned later with bhoga (unoffered ingredients) to offer to Lord Jagannath.
Dineesh also told a story about how he had a friend who had practiced Krishna consciousness with him from a young age, but had lost his faith in God and had begun smoking and drinking. When Dineesh begged his friend to come back to Krishna consciousness, he had refused and said, “Your Jagannath does not exist.”
Five years later, while out shopping, Dineesh bumped into his friend seemingly by chance. Embracing him tightly, the friend apologized with all his heart. Seeing Dineesh’s posts on Prasadarians, he explained, had turned him around and inspired him to believe in God again.
Prasadarians continues to grow and inspire. For its next step, Mahattama hopes to present some of its photos and recipes in a book or calendar.
“I think the page is so popular because people are attracted to do something so simple for God as offering their food,” she says. “If we have some vegetables at home, some fruits, the only thing we need to do is cut them, say a prayer, and ask Him to please accept them. And that makes us feel closer to God.”
To join Prasadarians, please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/Prasadarians/
If you would like to help Mahattama compile and publish a book or calendar on the photos from Prasadarians, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.[ facebook ] [ food ] [ prasadam ] [ vegetarianism ]