Rituals of Puja
(i)Achaman: The devotee takes small amount of water in his cupped palm and sips three times in order to purify his body.
(ii)Avahana: In Avahana, the devotee invokes the presence of God in front of an image or symbol and honours him as a guest.
(iii)Nyasa: It is an act of placing the deity in one s own body by symbolically touching the forehead, upper arms, chest and thighs.
(iv)Aasana: It involves offering a sect, in recognition of the omnipresence of God.
(v)Padya and Anghya: These constitute offering of water to wash hands and feet.
(vi)Abhisheka : It is an act of offering ceremonial bath.
(vii)Vastra: This is an offering of clothes or usually sacred thread.
(viii)Chandan: It involves smearing sandalwood paste to provide a soothing effect. Fragrance of sandalwood is symbolic of fragrance of God s love for His devotees.
(ix)Pushpa and Gandha: This is an offering of flowers and garlands, signifying pure and loving thoughts. Flowers are also supposed to represent the A tman or Soul of the devotee being offered to God.
(x)Dhupa or Incense: This symbolises the fragrance of God s love and also a reminder to burn or destroy desires.
(xi)Deepa: Lighting a lamp and waving in front of the deity signifies the desire to seek enlightenment. Light signifies the knowledge which destroys the darkness of ignorance.
(xii)Naivedya: This is an offering of sweets fruits and food to the deity, acknowledging that they are all obtained by the grace of God.
(xiii)Prayer: The devotee then prays in front of the deity usually sings songs in the honour of the deity.
(xiv)Visarjana: It means bringing the puja to a close . purna Kalash (The Sacred Vessel) It consists of an earthen or metal pot, usually copper, brass or stainless steel, filled with either water or rice. Its top is closed by placing a coconut tied in red cloth, along with leaves from mango tree or betel leaves. It is generally placed in front of the chief deity before starting puja. Kalash is considered to be auspicious for various reasons,. During the churning of the ocean (Samudra Manthan ) celestial nectar (Amrit) was found in the Kalash .It represents the Mother Earth. It is also symbolic of Hindu Trinity. Coconut represents the divine consciousness.
This is an offering of love and devotion to the deity. Many Hindus perform Arati daily at home with family members.
It involves waving of an Arati plate, generally made of copper , in front of the deity . On the plate , there is a lamp filled with ghee with five lights, symbolising the five elements of the Universe- fire, air , earth, water and ether, Waving of the Arati plate is accompanied by the singing of songs in the praise of the deity. Purpose of Arati is to ward off evil effects and malicious influence of evil eyes to which even the image of deity is susceptible. Arati is performed at least twice a day in the temples.
During Arati, the plate is believed to acquire the radiance and power of the deity . The devotees cup their down – turned hands over the flame and then raise their palms to their foreheads. It is believed that by doing so, the purificatory blessings passed from the deity to the flame, are then passed on to the devotees.
Distribution of prasada, which consists of a mixture of fruits and sweets, is an essential part of puja. It represents the gift from the deity to the worshipper. One should not leave the puja without taking the prasada.