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In general terms a votive offering or tama may be offered at the [[icon]] or [[shrine]] of a [[saint]], as a reminder of a petitioner's particular need, and as a fulfillment of their intended vow or promise
; or else, in gratitude for a [[prayer]] or vow that has already been answered.
<blockquote>"The vow usually takes the form of a commitment by the offerer to present some material gift to the supernatural benefactor if the benefactor grants the supplicant's particular request. Moreover, it is the making of the vow prior to the offering itself that, in the minds of [the faithful], distinguishes the votive offering from such other forms as the propitiatory or thank offering. While votive offerings are sometimes made in other situations of crisis or uncertain control such as the opening of a new business or the confrontation of one's son with the vagaries of the military draft, most frequently votives are employed in response to illnesses for which no other cure can be found. Promises and subsequent offerings are directed toward individual or local [[Patron saint|patrons]], or toward saints believed to be especially powerful in dealing with certain maladies, such as the [[Theotokos|Panaghia]] (Virgin Mother) who is frequently called upon to aid in conception or childbirth, or Saint [[Paraskevi]] who is regarded as especially efficacious in treating afflictions of the eyes."<ref name=TESKE>Robert T. Teske. ''Votive Offerings and the Belief System of Greek-Philadelphians''. '''Western Folklore.''' Vol. 44, No. 3, Healing, Magic, and Religion (Jul., 1985), pp. 209.</ref></blockquote>