56 BHOG of krishna
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Chappan Bhog is a pious ritual which comprises of 56 food items which are offered to Lord Krishna with love and devotion especially on the festivals like Janamashtmi, Purushottam Maas, Govardhan Puja etc. It comprises of favorite dishes of Lord Krishna which are made from milk and rice ,snacks ,cereals and dry fruits (meva).
WHY ONLY 56 BHOJ ?
Story of GovardhanGirdhari
According to the legends the people of Braj used to pray to Indra and offer him delicious meals and sweets . And ,in return Indra used to shower the rains so that the crops of Brajvasis would grow. Krishna found this practice to be harsh because the poor farmers could barely manage to prepare those meals for Indra . Also the importance of Govardhan Parvat was not known to the people of Braj. So ,Krishna told the villagers to worship the mountain rather than Indra as it protected them from severe climatic conditions. Indra felt this as an insult and he started raining heavily in Braj .Due to this the whole village was flooded . So ,to protect the people Krishna lifted Govardhan on his finger .This continued for the next seven days and finally Indra realised his mistake .
It is said that Maa Yashoda used to feed Krishna 8 times in a day .But during his Govardhan Lila Krishna did not eat for seven days .
In order to feed Krishna the villagers offered him fifty six dishes altogether (8)*(7).
The significance of this ritual is that people invite the Lord to their houses and offer him all his favorite food items and ask for his blessings in all odds of life.The food offered is necessarily Satwik (vegetarian food without onion and garlic).
The offering depends upon the region as well as the occasion . Chappan bhog is also offered on Sunderkand which is different from the one on Janamashtmi.
The Jagannath temple of Puri has the largest kitchen in the world and everyday Lord is offerd with 56 bhog which are made using the same items as discussed earlier.
It is said that Goddess Laxmi look upon the activities in the kitchen when the chappan bhog is prepared .There are two kinds of food in this assortment. The first is Sankuni, which includes different types of rice, kheer, vegetables, dal etc. The second kind is Sukhila, which comprises of dry sweets.
Offering these 56 dishes to Krishna shows the love and affection of a devotee towards him and krishna showers his blessing in return.