Food has always played a significant role in worship. Probably the best known sacred foods are the bread and wine of the Christian Eucharist, but puja offerings in Eastern religions are equally blessed.
While rooted in tradition and religious texts, the choice of sacred foods is clearly dependent on climate, availability and financial status. Hence a poor Hindu will light a simple butter lamp for a favourite deity while a wealthy Daoist family orders roasted suckling pigs for a grand send-off at a Chinese funeral.
Edible offerings from temple ceremonies are not wasted being distributed among the less well off. Animals and birds also receive a share as do sacred eels in certain cultural beliefs.
Special status is accorded some foods such as the honey used in Jain purification rites.
The seder plate, displayed on the dining table at the Jewish Passover, contains seven symbolic foods recalling the Exodus.
Simple water becomes sanctified in Christian baptismal ceremonies, sacred water from the River Ganga is flown to Hindu festivals far from its source.
Beans are thrown during Khmer wedding rituals, eggs are offered to Taoist temple gods, milk is poured on Shiva linga.
Once sacrificed on Aztec altars and pre-Islamic shrines, human beings were the ultimate in sacred offerings to the Divine.