The entire universe consists of various manifestations of God,
the Universal Consciousness which together form the basis of all our experiences
Puja is a word in Sanskrit language. In Sanskrit, words are formed with meaning in mind. For instance in the word puja,
‘P’ stands for ‘paapa’ meaning sins.
‘J’ stands for ‘janma’ means birth.
Puja means removing all accumulated sins, and make your life’s (birth) purpose fulfilled.
The Lord being not accessible to our eyes, ears, nose, touch and beyond the ken of ordinary (un-refined) intellect, so our ancestors developed a method of bringing Lord within the realm of the senses.
This method is to worship Lord in the form of an object (photo, water, fire, precious jewel, idol etc) which you can touch, feel, smell, see, feel the taste of. Thus all material senses are brought to a focus, by belief (faith) and by daily practice. Unshakable faith and long practice, evokes and unfolds previously unknown dimensions in awareness, which are generally not communicable in the normal way.
The object of performing the puja in this manner is to treat the deity as one would a guest, with honour and respect. In temples, the deities are treated as kings. Though the steps of worship are the same for all deities, there is some difference in the puja of each. For instance, the kind of flowers offered is different for each deity. Presently, a puja might also involve japa or meditation. A very important part of any puja is the applying of tilaka and the distribution of prasada to devotees.
A worshipper is required to be pure of body and mind. The Puranas lay more stress on the quality of devotion and good behaviour than on rigid puja procedures. Puja originated as a substitute to homa and other Vedic sacrifices which could not be performed by women and which required animal sacrifices. Due to Dravidian (see Dasas), Buddhist and Jain influences which preached non-violence, the killing or sacrifice of animals was discontinued and with the development of iconography, idol worship and puja took the place of sacrifice. It was also recognised that worship was essential for all, whatever the gender or caste and therefore puja was formalised as a universal option instead of the exclusive homa.
The object of the puja ritual is to create and setup thoughts of spiritual forces in and around us. This is best achieved by singing or chanting of some mantra, performing certain actions and making offerings in three defined stages. Each mantra is a magazine of vast spiritual forces.
A great puja is usually a community affair or performed during important occasions like religious festivals. This puja comprises of these steps:
- Avahana – the invocation of the deity.
- Asana – a seat is offered to the deity.
- Svagata – the deity is welcomed, asked about his journey and whether he faced any problem coming to the place of puja.
- Padya – the feet of the deity are washed with water.
- Arghya – a respectful offering of water is made to the god. This water is mixed with sandalwood paste, vermilion and rice.
- Achamania – water is then offered for washing the face and mouth of the deity.
- Madhu-parka – a beverage made of honey, sugar, and milk is offered to the deity
- Panchamrut Snan – a mixer of honey, milk, yogurt, ghee and sugar are used as a cleansing agent
- Snanajala – the deity is offered water for bathing.
- Abhushana – clothes, jewels and ornaments are offered next.
- Gandha – sandalwood paste or any other fragrant object is offered.
- Akshata – grains of rice mixed with vermilion are offered.
- Pushpanjali – flowers are offered.
- Dhupa – incense is lit.
- Dipa – the lamp is lit.
- Naivedya – rice, fruit, butter and sugar are offered next.
- Visarjana – the deity is finally bidden farewell.
- At the end, arati is performed
The Pujas I Perform
- Seemantonnayana (Rite to Establish Intelligence in the Embryo)
- Jatakarma (Thanksgiving for safe birth)
- Mundan (Shedding of natal hair)
- Upanayana (Investiture with Sacred Thread)
- Vivah (Marriage)
- Shri Satyanarayan Katha
- Shiv Pooja
- Ganesh Pooja
- Durga Pooja
- Shanti Havan
- Gayatri Havan
- Vastu Havan (Housewarming Ceremony)
- Tulsi Vivah
- Graha Shanti
- Mandap Muhurt
- Horoscope preparation
- Kaal-Sarp Dosh Pooja
Call me if you need advice on any of the above
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