In India, we offer coconut in temples and is used during all the rituals. Coconut is considered sacred, pure, a symbol of cleanliness and is also endowed with a lot of amazing properties. It is offered in the sacrificial fire whilst performing homam. The coconut is broken and placed before the Lord. It is later distributed as prasadam.
Adi Shankara, the spiritual Guru par excellence, was particular in ensuring the eradication of undesirable practice of ‘Narabali’ which was discontinued at many spiritual centers. He denounced the practice as having no spiritual connection whatsoever. The coconut was chosen as a suitable substitute by people who did not want to give up the practice of ‘bali’ sacrifice of other beings, but wanted a similar ritual for fulfilment of their desires. Coconut, which has a hard outer cover is broken in temple as an offering for our prayers. The tender coconut is covered by layers of fiber. The stripping of fiber is to emphasize the fact that we should be devoid of desires. Coconut’s hard cover resembles the head of a human being. Once the coconut is broken, we find a white or grayish kernel. The breaking of coconut is considered as breaking of our ego or Ahankara, because He expects his devotees to be egoless and pure. The kernel within represents our brain. It is filled with inner juice. This represents the internal tendencies of our brain to be jealous, egoist, selfish human being. Usually the inner juice is poured out before offering the coconut to Him, which means that we should remove our vaasanas. So, breaking of coconut stands for surrendering to Him with utmost devotion and love.
The coconut is also associated with Lord Ganesha. At the beginning of any auspicious task or a journey, people smash coconuts to propitiate Ganesha – the remover of all obstacles. They also break coconuts in temples or in front of idols in fulfillment of their vows.
Each time the coconut of broken and offered, the water inside is given to the devotees to drink. There are many health benefits to this. This drink helps in relieving problems related to the urinary tract, intestines and kidneys. Coconut water helps cure urinary problems. It also helps improve digestion and destroys intestinal worms. Coconut water relieves the intestines of harmful toxins. It also acts as a carminative, thereby relieving the gas present in alimentary canal. Doctors recommend patients afflicted with kidney stones to drink coconut water in addition to regular medications. Coconut water helps in dissolving kidney stones and allows their easy passage out of the body. Coconut water being a natural drink without any added preservatives, its consumption doesn’t lead to any side effects. This drink is loaded with minerals, vitamins, nutrients, sugars and all other natural fluids needed for nourishment of our body.