Pooja in Hinduism

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

The Pooja is another form of worship to the deities of the Hindu Religion which involves prayers, offerings and sacrifices.

The Hindu devotees perform the Pooja in a fixed, ritualistic pattern.

It is believed to establish a bridge between the god and the devotee facilitating the flow of love energy in both ways. This energy is said to revitalize the body’s resources by creating holy bliss.

While performing Pooja, the purity of the body and the mind are important. Even the Puranas lay more stress on these aspects. Through the quality of devotion and good behaviour than rigid Pooja procedures, it is easy to reach the god. There are many benefits by performing the Pooja.

It is believed to discipline the mind from wandering about different things. It energizes both the god and the devotee. It enables to experience oneness with the divinity.

The Pooja evolved as a substitute for homa and other Vedic sacrifices in which women and other categories like Shudras are prohibited to involve. It has become a universal option while worshipping god.

There are specific days on which certain deities are worshipped. Most of the Hindu Poojas begin with the praise and offering to Lord Ganesh. Offerings are also made to the fire or the Agni Devta which is referred as the mouth of the divine implying the actual feeding of the god.

There are sixteen symbolic steps in Pooja which includes welcoming the deity, giving the deity a place to sit, washing the feet of the deity, decorating the deity and offering food items, clothing and money to seek blessings.

Fresh flowers, fruits along with specific herbs and plants are offered to the god. Even Pooja involves offering milk, ghee, honey, curd and fruit to the god. Sometimes, the significant coloured flags associated with the deities are planted to symbolise the offerings.

The other activities of the Pooja include the singing, chanting mantras, ringing of bells and blowing of Conch shells.

It is also believed that Pooja must be offered facing east or facing the sun which symbolizes facing light while offering any Pooja.

The Prasadams are given back to the devotees in the form of holy water or ashes or kumkum or flower or fruit or even a full meal.

Every object associated with the ritual of Pooja or worship is symbolically significant. There are many hidden meanings of every act of Pooja.

The statue or image of the deity called as Vigraha is the idol that is devoid of the ill effects of the planets or 'grahas'.

The flower offered to the deity stands for the good things to blossom.

The fruits offered symbolize the detachment, self-sacrifice and surrendering. The incense burnt collectively stands for the desires for various things in life.

The lamp lighted represents the light of the soul offered to the Absolute. The vermilion or red powder stands for the emotions.

There are certain Pooja items commonly used for everyday Pooja. They include betal leaves, supari or betal nuts, jahanav, cotton wicks, kumkum, turmeric, abir, sandalwood sticks and camphor.

 

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