Offerings and Issues of Waste

Bhoga (Prasad), Offerings for Puja (Prayer)
Offerings for Puja (Prayer) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People make offerings to Deities and Spirits all the time. Yet there is one aspect that has always bothered me where this is concerned. People make offerings of food, drink, and many other things, but with this comes a concern for waste. The Divine does not necessarily physically consume the offerings. Whenever I hear about people making offerings of food, I think about the people who could be eating it. Offerings of ones own blood are risky and not simply because it involves cutting ones own flesh. I know the intent, but I object to the sacrifice of a living being. It’s soul is not mine to give away in my mind.

Instead, I often burn incense. Not just because my practice and philosophy has been influenced by Hinduism, Buddhism, and other similar traditions, but because nothing is left to waste. Offerings of burning candles are also common in my practice for the same reason. Yet, some times these offerings feel inadequate. I want to give something more, but I fear merely leaving the offerings out to waste. Even in the case of objects I worry about the people who could be using them. So how does one deal with the issue of waste?