Torma are sculpted butter and flour cakes set on mandalas and on altars during Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies.
Does anyone know what the story is with Torma and why are we doing offerings anyhow? Is there anything that is distinctively Buddhist about them, or is this really a syncretic tradition (i.e. is this just Hindu sacrificial rituals, but without the Hinduism)?
Everyone talks about offerings as if the internal mental model for offerings is obvious. As largely a secular Buddhist, I want to understand, but I don't have a lot to go on here. Offerings in a Christian church is money donated to the institution to fund the minister, etc. This isn't that sort of offering. Is this an offering to goose a Buddha or Bodhisattva or other diety or demi-god into doing something for us? The dieties don't actually eat the torma, so do the just appreciate the gesture, i.e. it's the thought that counts? Does this work via depriving oneself of something of value, a sort of austerity? Are these intended to more like a symbol to carry meaning?