Why do we use coconuts in prayer?
One of the most common offerings in Hindu worship is a coconut. The coconut is a satvic fruit – it is sacred, pure, clean, and health giving, endowed with several properties. It is placed on top of a kalasha or kumbham and used for worship on auspicious social and religious occasions like weddings, house warming prayers and temple ceremonies. It is also offered in the sacrificial fire whilst performing homam.
The coconut is the purest form of offering that one can render unto God. The fruit is unique in many respects.=
The sweet, nectar-like water that it holds is pure and untouched by the human hand. The coarsely knit outer fibers of the coconut represent the jealousy, greed, lust, selfishness and other vices of man, which must be broken up and removed if one is to penetrate and reach the white inner purity and thereafter taste the sweet untouched nectar of spiritual purity and bliss.
In most occasions, a coconut is broken and placed before the Lord and later distributed as prasadam. The composition of the coconut is characteristic of the three elements of man. The hard, outer shell, with its coarse fibers, represents the physical composition. The breaking of the coconut symbolises the shattering of the human ego. The juice within represents the inner tendencies (vasanas) and is offered along with the white kernel – representing the mind – to the Lord.
The three ‘eyes’ on the coconut are also considered to represent the three eyes of man – the two physical eyes plus the third or ‘inner eye’ which can penetrate the false, outer facade and reach the ultimate truth.