Hindu Of Universe

“God’s light is within you, It never leaves you.”

Puja is ritualistic worship of the Divine performed to keep us in harmony with cosmic forces, thereby removing and overcoming the sorrows of life and bringing spiritual upliftment.

By doing puja, thoughts and vibrations of spiritual forces are created around us.

These spiritual forces work to eliminate the negative influences in our life and help surround us with positive energy which can bring us peace of mind, material prosperity and enable us to more clearly touch the Divine, our true nature.

Pujas are traditionally performed in temples by residing priests trained in the exact science of puja including the precise details of auspicious times to do certain pujas, which mantras to chant, etc.

An individual’s vedic astrological chart determines which pujas and timings are best for that person, based on their karma from this life and previous lives.

The periods when the results of our past actions, favorable or unfavorable, come to fruition are indicated by planetary positions at the time of our birth.

A great deal about the events and influences of life can be predicted through the science of Jyotish (Vedic Astrology).

The malefic effects which are destined to befall us can be averted or their effects reduced by the grace of God, sincere prayer, selfless service and performance of specific pujas as recommended in the scriptures.

The happiness we create in the lives of other people, and nature as a whole, will give us benefits as well.

The body, mind and spirit are purified and harmonized by meditation, acts of devotion, prayers, mantra japa and the pujas we perform.


Whatever we are engaged in, we must always be thinking of God.

This is the purpose of rituals.

Rituals will foster good habits and they will bring order in life.

Every ritual was created as an aid to maintain an unbroken remembrance of God.

We can enhance the benefit of the puja by doing spiritual practices or by taking certain vows.

Some of the commonly observed practices include meditation, fasting, silence, prayer, mantra japa or repeating God’s name, and charity.

These vows can be done for one day, one week or as long as you wish.

The result of these actions is to help purify us and to enable us to imbibe more deeply the spiritual energy invoked by the puja.


Hindu worship known as puja

involves all five senses of touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing, and also what Hindus consider to be the five basic elements: light, fire, earth, air and water.

 It can be carried out in the home of Hindus before a shrine, or in the Hindu temple, which is known as a mandir.

Hindus wash thoroughly before prayers at home.

When they enter a temple, they remove their shoes.

They show respect to the gods by making offerings of money or food (rice, nuts or fruit) to the shrines of the gods.

Puja begins with the washing of the images of the gods.

They are washed with water, and sometimes with a milk based mixture called panchamrit.

Next the images of the gods are anointed with a perfumed, coloured marks made of haldi

(turmeric) and kumkum.

These marks are called tilaka and are also worn by Hindu priests and

Hindu women

Offerings of food and flowers are now made to the images.

The offering of food is made because the gods provide people with all their needs.

The offerings of flowers signify respect and worship.

Incense is burnt before the image and a bell is rung.

Both of these show the respect of the worshipper and announce the presence of the god.

In the temple the curtains would now be drawn before the gods, and the people spend some time in prayer.

The climax of the worship is the lighting of the Arti lamp.

On the puja tray with the lamp are a bell, a flower, a pot of ghee (oil) and a pot of water.

The lamp is circled 3 times in front of the image clockwise.

The priest then scatters holy water over the worshippers, while they sing hymns to the gods.

The blessings of the Arti lamp are shared by the congregation.

They make an offering on the tray.

They pass their hands over the light, then over their eyes and hands, symbolically receiving the blessings of God.

In Mandirs in Britain it is usual to share food at the end of worship and even for all the worshippers to join in a meal.

What is Puja?

Traditional Step of the Vedic Ritual and How to Worship a Hindu Deity

Puja is worship.

The Sanskrit term puja is used in Hinduism to refer to the worship of a deity through observance of rituals including daily prayer offerings after a bath or as varied as the following:

  • Sandhyopasana: The meditation on God as the light of knowledge and wisdom at dawn and dusk
  • Aarti: Ritual of worship in which light or lamps are offered to the deities amid devotional songs and prayer chants. 
  • Homa: The offering of oblations to the deity in a duly consecrated fire
  • Jagarana: Keeping vigil at night amidst much devotional singing as a part of spiritual discipline.
  • Upavasa: Ceremonial fasting. 

All these rituals for puja are a means to achieve purity of mind and focusing on the divine, which Hindus believe, can be a fitting stepping stone to knowing the Supreme Being or Brahman.

Why You Need an Image or Idol for a Puja

For the puja, it is important for a devotee to set an idol or icon or a picture or even symbolic holy object, such as the shivalingam, salagrama, or yantra before them to help them contemplate and revere god through the image.

For most, it is difficult to concentrate and the mind keeps wavering, so the image can be considered as an actualized form of the ideal and this makes it easy to focus.

According to the concept of ‘Archavatara,’ if the puja is performed with utmost devotion, during puja god descends and it is the image that houses Almighty.

The Steps of Puja in the Vedic Tradition

  1. Dipajvalana: Lighting the lamp and praying to it as the symbol of the deity and requesting it to burn steadily till the puja is over.
  2. Guruvandana: Obeisance to one’s own guru or spiritual teacher.
  3. Ganesha Vandana: Prayer to Lord Ganesha or Ganapati for the removal of obstacles to the puja.
  4. Ghantanada: Ringing the bell with appropriate mantras to drive away the evil forces and welcome the gods. Ringing the bell is also necessary during ceremonial bath of the deity and offering incense etc.
  5. Vedic Recitation: Reciting two Vedic mantras from Rig Veda 10.63.3 and 4.50.6 to steady the mind.
  6. Mantapadhyana: Meditation on the miniature shrine structure, generally made of wood.
  7. Asanamantra: Mantra for purification and steadiness of the seat of the deity.
  8. Pranayama & Sankalpa: A short breathing exercise to purify your breath, settle and focus your mind.
  9. Purification of Puja Water: Ceremonial purification of the water in the kalasa or water vessel, to make it fit for use in puja.
  10. Purification of Puja Items: Filling up the sankha, conch, with that water and inviting its presiding deities such as Surya, Varuna, and Chandra, to reside in it in a subtle form and then sprinkling that water over all the articles of puja to consecrate them.
  11. Sanctifying the Body: Nyasa with the Purusasukta (Rigveda 10.7.90) to invoke the presence of the deity into the image or idol and offering the upacharas.
  12. Offering the Upacharas: There are a number of items to be offered and tasks to be performed before the Lord as an outpouring of love and devotion for god. These include a seat for the deity, water, flower, honey, cloth, incense, fruits, betel leaf, camphor, etc.

Note: The above method is as prescribed by Swami Harshananda of Ramakrishna Mission, Bangalore.

He recommends a simplified version, which is mentioned below.

Simple Steps of a Traditional Hindu Worship:

In the Panchayatana Puja, i.e., puja to the five deities – Shiva, Devi, Vishnu, Ganesha, and Surya, one’s own family deity should be kept in the center and the other four around it in the prescribed order.

  1. Bathing: Pouring water for bathing the idol, is to be done with gosrnga or the horn of a cow, for the Shiva lingam; and with sankha or conch, for Vishnu or salagrama shila.
  2. Clothing & Flower Decoration: While offering cloth in puja, different types of cloth are offered to different deities as is stated in scriptural injunctions. In the daily puja, flowers can be offered instead of cloth.
  3. Incense & Lamp: Dhupa or incense is offered to the feet and deepa or light is held before the face of the deity. During arati, the deepa is waved in small arcs before the deity’s face and then before the whole image.
  4. Circumbulation: Pradakshina is done three times, slowly in the clockwise direction, with hands in namaskara posture.
  5. Prostration: Then is the shastangapranama or prostration. The devotee lies down straight with his face facing the floor and hands stretched in namaskara above his head in the direction of the deity.
  6. Distribution of Prasada: Last step is the Tirtha and Prasada, partaking of the consecrated water and food offering of the puja by all who have been a part of the puja or witnessed it.

The Hindu scriptures consider these rituals as the kindergarten of faith.

When understood properly and performed meticulously, they lead to inner purity and concentration.

When this concentration deepens, these external rituals drop off by themselves and the devotee can perform internal worship or manasapuja.

Until then these rituals help a devotee on his path of worship.

The Symbolic Significance of Puja Or Worship In Hinduism

In Hinduism, pūja (or pooja) is essentially a ritual or ceremonial worship, in which offerings are made to God with devotion to earn his love and blessings.

Although outwardly it may appear as a mechanical ritual, it has a hidden significance. The act of puja is a symbolic offering of one’s whole mind and body, thoughts, desires, actions and possessions (in short whatever one has and is) to God as a mark of devotion and surrender, enjoying whatever that comes in return as a gift from him. Probably, it originated from the Tantric methods of worship.

However, it has aspects of both Vedic sacrifices and Tantric rituals, which are responsible for its simplicity and universal appeal.

Presently, puja is the most popular form of divine worship in Hinduism.

It is performed either by individuals or by groups and either directly by a worshipper or indirectly by a priest on behalf of the worshipper.

It is also universally practiced in all Hindu temples.

In today’s world, Puja has practically replaced Vedic sacrifices as the central feature of Hindu worship since it is easier to practice even by lay people, and the mediation of a priest is not mandatory.

Technically, it is a domestic sacrifice, practiced by dutiful householders and devotees of God as part of their daily devotional service.

Although lay followers of Hinduism take liberties with their methods of worship to express their love and devotion to God in their own individual ways, the traditional form of puja has a definite form and structure, which is usually followed in many traditional households.

Its more elaborate versions are used in temples and religious places by priests to perform ritual worship and make offerings to the temple deities.

Some pujas are conducted for a few minutes while some may last for several hours. The way a puja is traditionally conducted in Hindu households is in the same way a guest is invited into a house by the householder and treated with utmost respect. Hindu tradition equates a guest (athidhi) with God with this simple expression, “Athidi devobhava,” which means a guest is verily God Himself.

We have elsewhere discussed both the outer aspects of puja and its historical development.

Here we will discuss the symbolic significance of puja and the symbolic meaning of the various objects which are used during the ceremony.

The meaning of puja

The word “pūja” means adore, worship, revere or treat with honor and respect. Pūjanam is the act of worship.

Pūjarha means that which is worthy of worship or adoration.

Pūjitha means that which is worshipped, revered, recommended for worship or endowed with divinity.

Pūjya is an honorary title used to denote people who are worthy of respect and honor in society.

The priest who performs puja in a temple is pujari.

Etymologically, the word consists of two letters, “pū” and “ja.”

It can be interpreted both literally and symbolically.

The following are the two literal interpretations.

  1. According to one literal interpretation, pū means to purify, cleanse or make pure and auspicious.

In a ritual sense, it means to expiate or atone for.

Ja” means birth.

Thus, puja means that which cleanses or purifies the birth or life of a person.

It is possible that in the remote past puja was used to seek forgiveness through ritual cleansing to remove the sins of one’s past and past lives for peace and prosperity or a better next birth.

  • According to another literal interpretation, Pū not only means to cleanse or purify but also to discern, think clearly or discriminate.

“Ja” means origin or manifestation.

Thus, according to it, puja is that which leads to the cleansing of the mind and body through the predominance of sattva and thereby to the discerning wisdom (buddhi). According to our scriptures, discerning wisdom arises as the mind becomes established in the contemplation of the God or the deity.

We know that puja is an essential aspect of devotional worship and has the power to stabilize the mind and grant us wisdom by opening our eyes to the hidden truths of our consciousness.

From a symbolic perspective, three other interpretations of puja are also possible.

They are not found in standard texts, but the subjective interpretations of this author only.

They are explained below.

  1. According to the first interpretation “pu’ means “purusha” and “ja” means “janma,” or to arise or wake up.

In other words, puja means that which awakens the Purusha or the soul either in the body or in an object of worship.

During the puja ceremony prana (life breath) is poured into the inanimate image of the deity, which is usually made of stone, wood, clay, etc., whereby it is infused with life and becomes a living incarnation of the deity (arca).

Symbolically, the act of worship (puja) awakens the hidden deity in the body, which is the self or purusha and fills the devotee’s mind with pure consciousness or intelligence.

When the image of the deity is infused with the power of God due to its continuous worship by devotees, it becomes a powerful cleansing object.

Hence, the images which are installed in the temples are also called vigrahas. Vigraham (vi+graham means that which removes the ill effects of the planetary bodies (grahas) or the sinful actions of the sense organs (grahas).

  • According to the second interpretation, “” represents flower (pushpam) and “ja,” water (jalam).

As stated before, “ja” also means japam (recitation).

Thus, according to this figurative interpretation puja means that which involves the use of flowers and water and uttering of prayers and God’s names.

In the puja ceremony flowers and water are used not only for decoration and ritual cleansing respectively but also as offerings, while prayers and God’s names are chanted.

Therefore, we may say that puja is a devotional service, in which water and flowers are offered to God, along with the recitation of His names.

  • Lastly, puja (pa + ū + ja) consists of three letters namely one labial consonant “pa,” one vowel “ū” and one palatal consonant “ja.”

“Pa” represents “parayana” or the continuous repetition of the names of God and “ja” represents “japa” or the continuous mental recitation of the names of God.

Thus, according to this interpretation “puja” is essentially a kind of worship in which both parayanam and japam are practiced by the devotees along with the offerings.

Aspects and significance of puja

In a puja ceremony, we use certain objects, mantras and methods of worship. Outwardly, they are meant to propitiate or appease the deity who is being worshipped. Inwardly, they are meant to establish a deeper connection with him and earn his grace. The idea is that by using them in our worship we gain the grace and goodwill of God. However, no puja should be conducted with irreverence or mechanical attitude, but with devotion and sincerity only.

It should not also be conducted for personal gain but to express our love, devoting and surrender to God.

The scriptures state that if pujas are not sincerely conducted in the prescribed manner, they may produce negative effects or fail to produce desired results.

The mundane purpose of a puja is to please the god and fulfill one’s desire or overcome some problem.

The highest purpose of it is to serve God and declare one’s love and devotion to him without expectations.

The quality of puja depends upon the intensity and purity of devotion and the devotee.

As we understand from the Bhagavadgita, only those who have the predominance of sattva can truly worship God with purest devotion.

The devotion of others may remain tinged with the impurities of egoism, desires and attachments.

Traditional pujas in Hinduism followed a structured format. Every aspect of it has a purpose and significance.

It helps you concentrate your mind upon God and declare your faith in Him in a heightened state of devotion.

By following the procedure, you express your commitment to the discipline and your willingness to forego your personal preferences in deference to God and as a mark of true surrender.

The traditional pujas have four important aspects, the offerer (pujaka), the offering (samarpana), the object of offering (pujitha) and the remains of offerings (prasada). The offerer is usually the devotee or a group of devotees.

In elaborate pujas, one or more priests may perform the puja on their behalf.

During the puja, the deity is made various offerings and treated with utmost respect like a venerable guest.

They include food also.

At the end of the pujas, the offering of food is distributed between the devotees and the priests.

Symbolism of the various objects which are used in puja

The offerings that are mainly made to the deity are prayers and

chants (dhyanam),

ceremonial welcome (ahvanam),

a seat (asanam),

cleansing water (arghyam),

drinking water (achamaniyam),

sweet drink (madhuparkam),

bath (snanam),

clothes (vastram),

sacred thread (upavitham),

sandal paste (gandham),

sacred grains (akshitam),

flowers (pushpam) and

songs (kirtanam) .

Collectively, they represent the objects of the five senses.

In other words, in the performance of a puja we engage all the five senses in addition to the mind and the body.

The offerings are meant to declare one’s allegiance to God and establish a direct relationship with him on a personal level.

We discuss below the symbolic significance of a few important offerings which are made during a puja ceremony.

Ahvanam, the invitation

The invitation marks the beginning  of a puja.

It represents the formality and the dutifulness with which the ritual needs to be conducted by the host.

The puja is not a mere mechanical ritual.

It is like a sacrament (samskara), which demands sincerity, discipline and respect.

In puja, you do not merely worship the gods in the heavens with prayers.

It is not a remote exercise.

Instead, the worshipper invites the deity to his house, treats him like an honorable divine guest, offers him a seat and directly worships him as if he is seated in front of him.

This is a unique approach, which is not found in any other religion.

The worshipper

The traditional host of the sacrifice (yajamana) in the Vedic ritual becomes the worshipper or bhakta in the ceremonial puja.

During the worship, he not only establishes a close connection with God but also represents God in the sacrifice of life as the upholder of Dharma, performing the triple functions of creation, preservation and destruction.

He prepares the ritual place and creates the form of God with his mind and body.

As the preserver, he makes offerings to him for the welfare of himself, his family and the world.

As the destroyer, he concludes the worship, by withdrawing the deity from the image.

The image

The puja is not a mere idol worship.

The images which are worshipped in it are considered living incarnations of the deity.

They are treated as if the deity has descended from above and established himself in it.

The ceremony therefore demands purity and sincerity of the worshipper.

The image helps the worshipper concentrate his mind during the worship and feel close proximity to the deity.

Symbolically it represents the materiality and all pervasiveness of God and his presence even in inanimate objects.

Purna kumbha or Purna kalasa (the sacred vessel)

It is generally placed as the chief deity or by the side of the chief deity before starting the puja.

Symbolically it stands for mother goddess in general, or goddess Lakshmi in particular. It consists of an earthen or a metal pot, with either water or rice in it, with leaves (of generally five specific kinds) on its rim, with a bowl of rice, flowers and a coconut adorning its top.

The pot represents the mother earth, the flowers represent the ornamentation, the rice in the bowl represents either the material wealth or the powers of the goddess or both, and the coconut represents the divine consciousness.


The food which we offer to the deity stands for the elements and the gross body, which is made of food only.

We offer food to God as a sacrifice, because we believe that all the food in the world belongs to God and is created by him.

We also consider him the devourer or the lord of Death, whose hunger is never satisfied.

By offering him food in a puja, we appease his hunger and earn his protection from the impurities of death, decay, ignorance and delusion.

Food also represents materiality and worldly possessions, which we have to renounce to achieve liberation.


Flowers have fragrance, color, beauty and tenderness.

They symbolize selflessness, self-sacrifice, detachment, surrender, faith and positive emotions.

By offering them to God, a devotee declares the purity and sincerity of his devotion and the tenderness of his feelings, and earns his reciprocal love.

Flowers also represent whatever that blossoms in you, be it good or evil, intelligence or delusion, and knowledge or ignorance.

By offering them to God, you cleanse yourself.


The fruits which are offered in worship represent the sweetness of the soul or the devotion of the devotee.

By offering them to God one earns the right to experience the blissful state of liberation.

Phal also means result, consequence, or whatever that ripens or is accomplished.

By offering the fruit to God we symbolically offer him the fruit of our actions and achievements.

As the Bhagavadgita declares one should perform actions as a sacrifice and offering to God without desiring their fruit.

By offering fruit in the pujas, we symbolically make this gesture.

Overtime, it washes away our sins.

Arghyam, padyam or achamaniyam

During the puja ceremony water is used as a drink (achamaniyam) and cleansing agent for cleaning the ritual place, the image, and oneself (arghyam, padyam and snanam).

Water represents the purifying agent, the remover of physical and spiritual impurities.

It also symbolizes life (prana), consciousness, the blood and the water element in our bodies.

By offering it to God we unburden ourselves from sinful thoughts and actions and cultivate sattva.


Sandal paste or fragrance substances are applied to the deity during worship.

The type of fragrance used in worship depends upon the nature and the preference of the deity.

By applying it we purify the image and impart to it divine fragrance.

Symbolically gandha represents desires, attachments (vasanas), likes and dislikes, latent impressions, properties, qualities or gunas, pride and arrogance.

By offering them to God we purify ourselves and stay free from evil influences.


Incense or frankincense is offered to God as part of the offerings.

It is meant to cleanse the air and drive away evil spirits.

The smoke which arises from the incense represents our clouded consciousness, delusion and ignorance.

We are subject to these impurities in the mortal world, which cloud our perception and consciousness and prevent us from achieving liberation or knowing the truths.

By symbolically offering them to God we cleanse our minds and bodies and cultivate discerning wisdom.

Deepam, light

Our world is a world of light and darkness.

Our minds and bodies are susceptible to evil influences, darkness and delusion.

The light which is offered to the deity in the puja symbolically represents knowledge, wisdom, purity and divinity.

By offering it to God we remind him to endow us with these divine qualities and save us from the darkness of the mortal world and the negative consequences of our karma.

We request him to show us the light and lead us in the right direction towards liberation.

Saffron (kumkum) and turmeric powder

Both are used in the worship to adorn the image or put a mark (tilak) upon our heads.

In the worship of Devi and several gods it is also used as an offering.

Symbolically, the saffron powder (kumkum) and the turmeric powder used in the worship represent tamas and rajas respectively.

By offering them we seek the predominance of sattva. Kumkum also stands for the blood in the body.

It is the symbolic alternative for the blood of humans or animals, while turmeric represents the body vigor (tejas).

By offering them to God one seeks strength, vigor and longevity.

The remains of the offering (Prasad)

During the puja ceremony, the remnants of the food which has been offered to God is called prasadam, which is a combination of pra + sat, meaning that which fills the prana with light and truth (sat).

The belief is that when we offer the food to God it becomes suffused with the light and purity of God and thereby becomes sacred.

By eating it, we become purified and suffused with his light and power.

Symbolically, it represents the graciousness, kindness and serenity of God.

Through the remains of the offering they become transferred to the devotees.

Lastly, by sharing it with others the host of the puja engages in charity and good karma, which is beneficial to him as well to those who participate in the ceremony.


The puja ceremony of Hinduism is a ceremonial declaration of love, devotion and allegiance to God.

It is an opportunity to establish direct communication with the deity in which both the mind and the body wholly participate.

It is also an act of offering, sacrifice and charity, which combines in a holistic approach the aspects of karma yoga, jnana yoga, buddhi yoga, sanyasa yoga and atma samyama yoga.

By practising it regularly, one cultivates discipline, concentration, devotion, purity, and equanimity.

It is the simplest and straightforward way to earn the grace of God and achieve liberation.

Significance puja Hinduism

In Hinduism, puja (or pooja) is the traditional rite of passage, in which sacrifices are offered to God in order to receive his love and blessing.

While on the outside it may seem like a machine habit, there is a hidden value.

The act of puja is a symbolic offering of the whole human mind and body, thoughts, desires, actions and possessions (in short what a person has and is) to God as a symbol of devotion and devotion, enjoying anything in return as a gift.

from him.

Probably, it came from Tantric ways of worship.

However, it has elements of Vedic sacrifices and Tantric practices, responsible for its simplicity and universal appeal.

Currently, puja is a popular form of Hindu worship.

They are performed individually or in groups and are performed directly or indirectly by a worshiper in the name of a priest.

It is also practiced all over the world in all Hindu temples.

In the modern world, the Puja has replaced the Vedic rites as an integral part of Hindu worship, even for the common people, and priestly services are not obligatory.

It is, in fact, a self-sacrificing home, made by sincere and devoted householders as part of their daily devoted service.

Although Hindu clerics adhere to their rituals in order to express their love and devotion to God in their individual ways, the traditional form of puja has a definite shape and form, often followed in many traditional families.

Its elaborate translations are used by priests in temples and places of worship to worship and offer sacrifices to the gods of the temple.
Some pujas run for a few minutes while others can last a few hours.

The way puja is practiced in Hindu families is similar to the way a visitor is introduced to the householder and treated with great respect.

Hindu tradition likens the visitor to the god with the simple expression, “Athidi devobhava,” meaning that the visitor is actually God Himself.
Elsewhere we have discussed both the external aspects of puja and its historical development.

Here we will discuss the symbolic significance of the puja and the symbolic meaning of the various objects used during the festival.

Meaning of Puja

The puja, also spelled pooja or poojah, is a Hindu ritual, from short daily rituals at home to many temple rites. The word puja is derived from Dravidian pu (“history”). In its simplest form, the puja often involves making an offering of flowers or fruit to the image of the god. The parts of the puja vary according to the denomination, the community, the part of the country, the time of day, the needs of the worshiper, and the religious text to follow. Usually, in puja, the god, reflected in his image, is given the honor bestowed on a royal guest.

The attention (upacharas) is given to him first in the morning, when he wakes up briefly, and continues throughout the day, which includes bathing and dressing traditionally, a three-course meal, and a final bedtime ritual.

for the night.

The puja may also include the circulation (pradakshina) of a statue or sanctuary and, in a complex ritual, a sacrifice (bali) and a sacred fire offering (homa).

Special festivals according to the festival calendar may be celebrated, such as swinging a god or playing games according to the season.
Another important type of puja in the Indian temple and in private worship arati, the flickering of lanterns lit in front of an image of a god or a person to be venerated.

During the ceremony, the worshiper rotates the lamp three times or more in a clockwise direction while singing a prayer or hymn.

In the Indian subcontinent, the arate is a common sight given to highly esteemed guests.

It is also a part of many home festivals.
Some pujas may be performed alone, while others may require the services of a qualified person as a priest.

The puja may be used for a specific purpose or just as a voluntary act.

Significance of Puja

In the original texts describing the Vedic puja, the importance of the puja was to direct the priest to make direct requests to the gods.

An example of a supplication prayer offered during the Vedic puja, according to Wade Wheelock, is:

Indra-Agni, slayers of Vrtra with the beautiful thunderbolt, prosper us with new gifts;
O Indra, bring treasures with your right hand;
O Agni grant the enjoyments of a good household;
Give (us) vigor, wealth in cattle, and possession of good horses.

In contrast to the Vedic pujas, the significance of the deity pujas has shifted from request to external causes to divine experiences and their spiritual essence.

It became a form of Yoga whose final result was to get to know the god by worshiping a god.

However, despite this improved spiritual value, for many people, the puja continued to be a vehicle for asking for wishes and complaints, such as the good health of a human child, a speedy recovery from illness, success in a thoughtful business or the like.

In the construction and operation of the puja, mantras and rituals focus on spiritual matters, and any requests and complaints are considered only at the end of the puja.

Zimmer associates puja with yantras, with practices that help the devotee to focus on spiritual thoughts.

Puja in Hinduism, says Zimmer, is a process and process of transformation of consciousness, in which devotion and the spiritual significance of divinity are grouped together.

This traditional puja process, in different parts of India, is considered as liberation, liberation, cleansing and the form of Yoga spirit and emotion.

Puja in Hinduism sometimes involves more than one theme or image.

Even people, places, rivers, material objects and anything else seem to be a manifestation of divine truth by some Hindus.

The attainment of the Godhead is not limited to meditation contemplation as in the Hindu yoga school or the idols in the bhakti school.

To some the divinity is omnipresent, without limit to its nature, and the puja in this manifestation means the same spiritual meaning to those who choose to pray to people, places, rivers, material objects or anything else.

Main Puja Objects and Their Symbolic Meanings

·         Vigraha (Idol)

Vigraha is an image or image of a chosen god.

The word “Vigraha” comes from the Sanskrit root, “Vi + Graha”, meaning, something cut from the negative effects of planets or “grahas”, as it is called.

Hinduism strongly believes in planets and the effects they inflict on man.

The supernatural is considered to be in control of these planets and therefore, is said to be beyond these effects. Submission to such divine powers, Hindus believe, will also liberate them from grahadosha (the harmful effects of planets).

Giving various objects to the Vigraha during the Puja period symbolizes devotional devotion to the god.

·         Deepam (Open light)

Giving deepam (or light) is an important part of all pujas.

This symbolizes the light that dwells within us, the true Self that we give to God in the spirit of pure devotion and devotion.

Figuratively speaking, the oil used represents the vasanas (desires), the wick represents the ego and the fire, the flame of knowledge that burns the ego.

·         Dhoopam (Incense)

Dhoopam or the smoke from the incense sticks symbolizes our dim consciousness (mind and all thoughts and ignorance) which creates a great obstacle to the process of self-knowledge.

To give dhupam means to give up our flexible, deceptive minds to God.

At its base, dhupam represents the spirit, which is also a symbol of the spirit of life or prana within us, which we present to the god in the sense of self-sacrifice.

·         Pushpam (Flowers)

The flowers we give to the god during Puja represent good things for us.

It is a way of giving ‘something’ (good) that flourishes within us as a result of doing these things.

Flowers are also a symbol of water, especially the lotus, which comes out of the water.

·         Phalam (Fruits)

Giving a palm or fruit symbolizes giving the fruit of our action at the feet of the Lord.

This means separation, dedication and self-sacrifice.

·         Kalasha or the Purnakumbha (the sacred vessel)

Kalasha or Purnakumbha is a clay or metal pot (usually copper or silver) or pot, filled with water. Mango leaves are then placed in this pot, with coconut on top.

This purnakumbha is placed before the deity before starting the puja.

The pot here means Mother Earth; water is regarded as life-giving; the leaves signify the spirit of life and the coconut, divine consciousness.

Coconut is referred to in Sanskrit as “Sriphala” (the fruit of God).

·         Kumkum (Vermilian) and Haldi (Turmeric) Powders

The red powder (Kumkum) represents both our emotions and our inner intelligence. Turmeric powder symbolizes our inner purity and negative side, due to our false ego and inner pride.

·         Chandanam (Sandalwood paste)

Sandalwood also gives the seeker peace of mind, cooling down his system and helping him to concentrate during Puja.

·         Prasadam or Naivedyam

Prasad or Naivedya eat food that Hindus give to God during Puja.

This means “avidya” or ignorance of the devotion you give to the main god of Puja. Food includes the knowledge of ignorance, which is placed before God, in order to turn It into spiritual enlightenment.

Applying this Prasad removes the avidya to the follower and fills him with the light of true knowledge, which purifies and creates a new person, better than the devoted one.

Many great Pujasas involved the sharing of Prasad with other devotees who came together to witness the Puja.

The act of sharing Prasad means sharing the knowledge that the devotee has gained, among his fellow creatures, thus purifying him even more.

·         Aarti (Waving of light)

The word, “Aarti”, is said to have come from Rigveda, the first Hindu text.

The Sanskrit word “Aarti” comes from the root, “aa”, meaning, ‘to’ and “rati”, meaning, ‘the supreme love of God’.

This name has many meanings given to it.

Some believe that the word “Aradhana”, similar to Aarti, means “great love for God”, which provides true and lasting happiness and happiness.

When Aarti is made, it is believed that even the plate and the light are blessed by God.

That is why the plate is shown around to everyone, so that all present may place their hands on the fire and touch it with their eyes.

Symbolism of Puja, the Ritual Worship of God in Hinduism

In Hinduism we come across a common method of worship called puja or pooja.

Unlike the elaborate sacrificial ceremonies, it can be performed by anyone except those who have incurred impurity due to menstruation or the death of a family member, etc. As the most popular form of worship, “puja” is practiced in almost every Hindu household even today, either every day, occasionally on certain days in a week or month, or on important religious, auspicious or festive occasions as required by tradition.

A puja can either be a simple ritual worship or a very complicated one, depending upon the way it is performed.

One may perform it to overcome a problem, seek divine help, or just to render devotional service to the family deities.

For many people, puja is part of the daily sacrifice (nitya karma).

Meaning of puja

Many interpretations can be given in Hinduism to the word “puja” which consists of two letters, namely, “pa” and “ja.”

According to one interpretation, “pa” means “parayana” or continuous repetition of the names of God and “ja” means “japa” or continuous mental recitation of the names of God.

According to this interpretation “puja” is essentially a kind of Hindu worship in which both parayanam and japam are practiced by the devotees.

In a puja ceremony, Hindus offer both flowers and water to the deity.

Thus from this point of view, “pu” means “pushpam” or flower and “ja” means “jal.” The letter “ja” can also mean simultaneously “japam.”

So in this context, puja becomes that form of Hindu worship, during which water and flowers are offered to God along with recitation of His names.

Lastly, puja has a spiritual dimension also.

According to this interpretation, puja means that form of worship through which we give birth to or awaken the indwelling spirit in us.

Here “pu’ means “purusha,” meaning the eternal self and “ja” means “janma,” meaning to give birth to or to awaken.

According to Hindu beliefs, during the puja the deity, which is normally an idol or a statue, comes to life.

This happens both outwardly in the object of worship or the deity and inwardly in the subject of worship or the devotee.

The statue or the form of the deity is brought to life externally through the chanting of mantras or special invocations, or specifically speaking, through the performance of ‘prana pratishta’ or establishing the life breath in it.

Similarly, the indwelling spirit in the worshipper is awakened because of his sincerity, concentration, devotion, and divine grace which is symbolically represented as ‘prasad,” grace or blessing from above.

How puja is conducted

Hindus perform pujas in various ways.

The commonest form of worship follows a well-established sequence of actions, or procedure, which is approximately similar to how a visiting guest is customarily treated by a devout householder.

According to the Vedic tradition, visiting guests are considered gods (athidhi devo bhava) and they are supposed to be treated with the same respect as gods are treated during an invocation or sacrificial ceremony.

Thus, although the puja ceremony is a later day development, the idea of honoring the deity by paying respects and making offerings is very much rooted in Vedic ritualism and sacrificial ceremonies.

During the ceremony, the first step involves uttering an invocation, mantra or prayer, inviting the chosen god to visit the place of worship, which is indicated to him by specifying the directions, the time and the place name.

This is generally performed either by a mediating priest or the worshipper himself.

Once it is done, it is assumed that the deity has agreed to come and arrived at the designated place as requested.

The worshipper then washes his feet with a symbolic gesture and offers him a seat with utmost respect.

These honors are extended to him as if he is physically present in front of the worshipper in person.

Just we offer water or a drink to a visiting guest to quench his thirst as if he has walked in the bright sun for a long time, the worshipper next offers him water to drink by placing a glass in front of the idol or dropping water with a small spoon or ladle.

Once he is seated, as a mark of utmost reverence, love and self-surrender, he once again washes his feet with ceremonial water.

After that, the idol is bathed with water, milk, honey, etc., and massaged with various perfumes and scented pastes such as turmeric powder, sandal paste and curd mixed with ghee to the accompaniment of various mantras which usually end with “samarpayami,” meaning, “I have offered.”

After the bathing ceremony, the deity is offered new clothes to wear during the ceremony, which is symbolically represented either by a peace of cotton thread in simple ceremonies or real clothes in more organized ones.

Having made him comfortable in the new attire and honoring him with a high seat, the worshipper then makes him a series of offerings namely

pushpam (flowers),

phalam (fruit),

gandham (sandal paste),

dhupam (incense),

deepam (light),

naivedyam (food),

jalam (water),

mantram (recitation of sacred verses) and

mantra-pushpam (a sacred flower).

 All these arrangements, devotional offerings and respectful prayers are intended to make the deity feel comfortable and at home in the new surroundings and enter a positive state of mind.

Once the worshipper follows all the steps and makes sure that he has endeared himself to the deity with his devotion and sincerity, he intensifies his worship with more prayers and supplication, expressing deep devotion and gratitude.

The purpose of such an elaborate procedure is to build rapport with the deity and earn his love and grace for which he specifically chooses prayers and hymns that extol the virtues, triumphs and greatness of the deity.

In more elaborate ceremonies of Hinduism, which may last for one more days, the deity is entertained with songs, music and dance, and on occasions taken out in a public procession.

He is also made a number of customary offerings and gifts such as clothes, incense, flowers, perfumes, light, ornaments, food items, money, etc.

These offerings may be real or imaginary.

Both approaches are valid.

Their purpose is to express one’s gratitude, devotion, love and surrender.

The puja ceremony of the Hindus, generally ends with the offering of aarati or sacred flame to the deity and the distribution of prasadam, or the remains of the offering.

The word prasadam is a combination of two words namely ‘pra’ and ‘sada’.

It literally means the bestowed or giver of eternal life.

Hindus believe that, when an offering of food is made to a deity, it becomes pure, sacred and blessed with his touch.

Having become infused with His or Her prana or energy, it is believed to possess the purifying power to heal those who partake it or remove their sins and impurities.

Hence the name ‘prasadam.”

As we can see from the above description, in Hinduism the way a puja is conducted in the traditional fashion is akin to the way a householder invites and entertains a guest of honor into his house.

The tradition says that a guest should be treated like God (‘athidi devo bhava’ with utmost respect and his stay should be made as comfortable as possible.

As long as the guest stays in the house, his desires, wants and needs should be fulfilled as far as possible, for who knows God himself might have descended upon the house in the guise of a guest to test his devotees!

The same concept is extended to the deities when they are worshipped during the puja ceremony.

All deities are the aspects and forms of God only.

Worshipping them is the same as worshipping the highest God.

Hence, during the worship they should be propitiated with utmost respect and devotion and given utmost attention.

On the physical plane, prayers and the mantras are chanted during the puja ceremony to create an atmosphere of sacred feelings or vibrations in and around the house and add sanctity and purity to the whole environment.

Thus, in Hinduism puja is essentially a religious ritual and a form of worship.

Mentally and spiritually, it is an expression of devotion and a method of direct communion with God.

It assumes many forms, including invoking divine power to delude and destroy enemies or acquire supernatural powers.

Symbolically, it represents the symbolic act of offering of our lives and activities to God which culminates with the Grace of God as the reward (prasadam) for the service rendered, which leads to the blissful state of liberation.

Presently, domestic worship (puja), both at homes and in the temples, is the most popular method of worship in Hinduism.

It has gained precedence over the more elaborate ritual methods and sacrificial ceremonies of the Vedic tradition because of its simplicity, directness, convenience and emotional appeal.

Although people may use it for different ends and with different attitudes, its essential structure and basic purpose remain the same, which is to invite God as if he is a dear friend and visitor to your home and treat him with utmost devotion, care and attention.

The Puja – A Quintessential Part Of Hindu Worship

The Hindu pantheon rests heavily on its many and varied rites and rituals, which differ vastly among individuals, sects, casts, communities, villages and regions.

What makes Hindu rituals so special is that the religion offers many similar features too, which bind Hindus spread across the globe, amazingly linking them into a single unit, even influencing other major religions of the world.

Among the most notable of features is the clear demarcation Hinduism makes between purity and impurity.

This religion presupposes that every follower would have in him or her some degree of pollution or non-refinement, which would be overcome or at least minimized with the constant practice of these rites and rituals.

Avoiding impurity of mind, word and deed and purifying the self with holy water, is hence, one of the basic feature of Hindu rituals.

In Hindu culture, those who manage to sidestep temptations and follow the righteous path are accorded increased respect in society.

One other notable feature of this religion is the faith people have in the power of sacrifice and sacrificial or Vedic rituals.

These sacrifices include preparing a sacred space to conduct the ritual, recitation of Vedic texts and mantras and offering items to the ahuti or the sacred fire.

Yet another concept is that of earning punya or good Karma through acts of charity or good deeds, which, Hindus believe, will reduce their Karma and take them to a better world after their time on earth.

Hindu Worship

Hindus visit temples to conduct their religious worship.

But predominantly, Hindus consider home the best place to perform basic religious rites and rituals, on an everyday basis.

The religion stipulates various kinds of rituals one can conduct at various times of the day, especially during dawn and dusk.

Of course, orthodox families may even engage in rituals more often.

In most households, especially those from South India, the women of the house wake up at dawn, take a bath and then draw auspicious designs on the floor of the doorstep, either using chalk or rice flour.

These designs are referred to as Kolams.

In the North, they use colors to draw out these geometrical designs and term them as Rangolis.

Then comes the personal worship of the Gods installed in the family shrine.

This ritual involves performing a detailed puja, involving lighting the lamp, taking aarti, offering food before the images, reciting prayers and singing bhajans (devotional songs).

Very traditional Hindus recite from the Rig Veda, the Gayatri Mantra and offer prayers to the Sun at both dawn and dusk.

In rural areas, you can often find a huge group of people, mostly women, who get together for satsang (prayer and/or discourse) sessions, chanting hymns and singing in praise of their favourite gods.

Hindu men also offer a little water during their daily bath, in the memory of their ancestors who, they believe, bless and protect them and their families from all negatives.

At mealtimes, there are families who set aside a small portion to be given away to the needy.

Many also feed birds, especially crows, who are considered to be ancestors revisiting the household in this form.

These acts are believed to serve as good Karma which would protect both the followers and their families.

The basic tenet of Hinduism is bhakti or devotion to personal gods.

There is a lot of sectarianism among various Hindu communities, even within a single region. Such sects may believe only in that one god and no one else.

Nevertheless, Hindus have a wide variety of gods to choose from and many Hindus opt to focus on their own ishta devata (beloved personal God), which may not necessarily conform to their religious sect’s views.

Hence most Hindus turn out to be polytheists, worshipping more than one single deity.

The most important aspect of Hindu worship – the Puja

The most important aspect of Hindu worship is the Puja (alternatively spelt as “Pooja”), which consists of a variety of ritual offerings and prayers to be performed as mentioned in the puja vidhi (protocol of worship as stipulated by the religion itself).

The worship may be in the form of a person or a symbol, representing the presence of the sacred divine.

The special significance of Hinduism is that it includes the worship of all the five Panchamahabhutas or the five elements of fire, water, earth, air and ether.

Taken together, the Panchamahabhutas constitute the physical, “macro” world and also exist within us all, within our own “micro” worlds.

Each of these Mahabhutas also corresponds to the five Indriyas (physical senses).  

While some Hindus conduct these pujas at home on an everyday basis, there are others who perform more elaborate special ceremonies at temples or rented halls, with the help of the resident or family priests, who are competent to carry out the detailed procedures.

The priests are treated as representations of the divine and are given offerings and gifts at the end of the ritual.

Those witnessing the rituals are also offered gifts and Prasad (food, which is treated as divine grace).

Hindus perform Pujas at many occasions, such as after conception for the mother, during her fourth and seventh months of pregnancy, birth of the baby, infancy, childhood, upanayanam (sacred thread ceremony), marriage, death, funeral and finally, on the 13th day after death, which signifies bidding a final farewell to the soul of the deceased.

Many families also conduct an annual Shrardha, a ritual performed to pray for the peace and happiness of the departed soul.

The meaning of the word, “Puja”

There are many explanations as to how the word “Puja” came into being.

One version says that the word “Puja” is derived from the Sanskrit roots, ‘P’, which stands for ‘Paapa’ or sin, and ‘J’, which stands for ‘Janma’ or birth.

Some believe that the word Puja is derived from the Dravidian word, “pu-chey” or offering flowers.

Some other version links this word to “pusu”, which means, to smear with vermilion or sandalwood paste.

Puja serves as a substitute to

homa (sacrificial fire ritual),

bali (animal sacrificial ritual) and other Vedic rituals which women and the

Shudra community (the lowest community in the then-relevant caste system) could not perform.

With the advent of Buddhist and Jain cultures that preached ahimsa (non-violence), animal sacrifices were discontinued and religious iconography, symbolisms, idol worship and puja took their place instead.

Puja was acknowledged as a religious medium for all Hindus, irrespective of caste and gender, and, therefore, became the universal option of prayer for everyone.

In the present, Puja includes all forms of ritual or ceremonial worship, its vast spectrum including daily domestic offerings of flowers, fruit, leaves, food and water to the deities, to performing detailed and complicated rituals at temples, even to offering sacrifices of chicken and goats in certain Kali, Durga and other such temples.

Generally, Hindus see the puja as a simple way for ordinary mortals to relate to the divine, so it can even be performed even on something that symbolizes the divine, like a cow or a tree.

Puja takes several forms, such as

darshan (simply gazing at the deity’s image),

arpan (offering flowers, fruit, incense and so on to the deity),

smaran (contemplating on the ishta devata at all times),

shravan (listening to stories of or hymns in praise of the deity) and

bhajan (singing in praise of the deity).

The prayer thus performed could either be silent or be accompanied by prayers.

Pujas can also be performed either individually or in groups.

The entire aim of performing the puja is to create a protective layer of spiritual forces around us, warding off all evils and negative forces, thereby creating a conducive environment to lead a happy and peaceful life.

Materials used in pujas

Each puja involves the use of a variety of materials, as specified in that particular puja vidhi.

The simplest of pujas requires offering of

pushpam (flowers),

phalam (fruit), toyam (water),

karpuram (camphor) and

naivedyam (food).

The more elaborate puja rituals, would, of course, need more materials.

According to Shri Aurobindo, Vedic rituals such as the Yagna and Homa are “attempts to fulfill the purpose of creation and elevate the status of man to that of a godhead or a cosmic man”.

But the simple puja is a symbolic offering of our lives and activities to that higher cosmic power, who we term as God.

Each and every item used in the Puja has a reason and a symbolic significance behind it.

We now delve into the significance of each of these Puja-related objects.

The Vigraha (Idol)

The Vigraha is the idol or image of the chosen deity.

The term “Vigraha” comes from the Sanskrit root, “Vi+Graha”, which means, something that is shorn of the negative effects of the planets or the “grahas”, as they are called.

Hinduism believes a lot in planets and the effects they cast on human beings.

The divine is considered to be the controller of these planets and hence, is said to be beyond these effects.

Surrendering to such a divine force, Hindus believe, will also liberate them from their grahadosha (ill-effects of planets).

Offering various items to the Vigraha during the Puja is symbolic of the devotee’s surrender to the deity.

The puja Vigraha could be made of any material, such as mud, clay, brass, copper, silver or even be gold-plated.

There are no bars whatsoever on that aspect. 

The term “Purnakumbha” in Sanskrit means, “full pot” – “Purna” (full)+”Kumbha” (pot).

The Kalasha or the Purnakumbha is an earthen or metal (usually copper or silver) pot or pitcher, which is filled with water.

Mango leaves are then placed on this pot, with a coconut atop it.

This purnakumbha is then placed before the deity prior to commencing the puja. 

The pot here signifies Mother Earth; the water is considered the life-giver; the leaves signifiy the life breath and the coconut, the divine consciousness.

The coconut is referred to in Sanskrit as the “Sriphala” (God’s fruit).
Water is known to be a cleanser, and hence, Hindus use it to purify both themselves by performing Prokshanam (sprinkling of holy water) on the head and also on the food, before they consume it.

Hindus usually sprinkle water around their food three times, before they start eating.

This could in a way be associated to the Western culture of giving thanks before consuming meals. 

The Kalasha is used during almost all pujas and is also considered by some as Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth.

Rangolis and Kolams

Rangoli, though not compulsory for Pujas, has nevertheless made a significant contribution to India’s culture.

The art of Rangoli or Kolam, which involves drawing on flat surfaces, usually at thresholds of houses, can range from very simple to very elaborate and colored designs.

While they look like mere geometrical figures, they actually represent divinity in many ways.

Since the Rangoli was a work of art, it was considered that only a woman with a spiritual bent of mind could create a perfect one.

This raised her stature in society, even if she was actually illiterate otherwise.

Some rangolis were then used to invite good into the house and ward off the evil.

The most notable thing about rangolis is their highly fragile structure.

Made of many kinds of powders, it needed tremendous control on the part of the artist to create a perfect design.

This meant that she would have to be completely immersed in the activity, without letting any internal thought or external event distract her.

That would itself give her temporary liberation from the material world.

At a more spiritual level, it shows how temporary even a beautiful, painstaking, creation is, in this material world.

Due to its extremely fragile state, even a gust of wind or a few drops of rain can completely destroy a rangoli.

However, modern times have seen an alternative to using powders for Rangoli, to overcome this fragile state.

Sticker Rangolis are now available, with readymade Rangoli patterns on plastic sticker sheets.

These Rangolis are ready to use and simply need to be stuck to the area needed to get the exact look of an original Rangoli.

Patram (Leaves)

There are certain leaves that are considered the symbols of divinity, such as mango leaves, betel leaves, banyan leaves and leaves from the ‘Bilva’ or ‘Bael’ trees.

Areca-nuts and betel nuts are also considered holy.

Pushpam (Flowers)

The flowers we offer to the deity during Puja symbolize the good in us.

It is a way of offering the ‘sat’ (good) that has blossomed within us as a result of performing these rituals.

Flowers also are an embodiment of water, especially the lotus, which rises from water.

The Kamala (Lotus)

Hindus consider the lotus, also the national flower, as the most sacred among flowers. The lotus also embodies the true soul or spirit of the devotee, which represents the pure Self, the Being, which, in spite of rising out from dirty, turbid water, is yet clean and free of it all.

Hence, this flower signifies enlightenment and mukti (liberation) from the material world.

According to Hindu mythological, the lotus symbolizes creation, since Brahma, the Creator of the Universe, comes forth from the lotus that bloomed from Lord Vishnu’s navel.

The Padmasana (lotus posture) is used during meditation and yoga as well. 

Flowers and Garlands

Flowers constitute a very important part of any Hindu Puja.

It is one of the most important offerings made to the deity.

Flowers are used both while performing the Puja at home as well as temples and all other sacred places.

There is hardly ever some Puja conducted which does not use flowers.

During the course of the Puja, the deity is decorated with various types of flowers and garlands made of different flowers and leaves.

Flowers are also placed at the feet of the deity and often times; the deity is also showered with these flowers.

The Puja thali (plate) thus always includes a lot of colored, fragrant flowers to be used for that particular Puja.

Puja vidhis many times specify the flowers to be used while performing that particular Puja and the method in which they are to be used during the Puja.

Some flowers are actually associated with a particular deity, so they are used in a Puja which is aimed at pleasing Him/Her.

For example, the red Hibiscus flower is used for Lord Ganesha’s Puja.

He is garlanded with a string of hibiscus, along with the Ariham, better known as Durva, grass.

Lord Krishna is often garlanded with a Vanamala (mixture of sweet-smelling flowers) and the Tulsi Mala (garland of tulsi or leaves of the Holy Sage plant). 

The act of garlanding the deity with flowers, placing flowers at His feet and showering Him with flowers signifies the seeker’s complete faith, devotion and surrender to that deity.

In offering the flowers, the seeker is actually offering his own self to the deity.

Why certain flowers are never used during Puja

Sometimes, some flowers are completely avoided for a particular deity, as it might have been cursed for that particular god and so on.

Flowers with very strong odors are generally never used for the Puja.

Also, flowers without fragrance are also avoided.

Wild flowers and those which haven’t blossomed fully are not used either.

Similarly, flowers mutilated by birds or insects are not used.

Flowers picked from gardens, on the other hand, are considered the best for a Puja.

In some cases, flowers picked from a forest may also be used.

Just as in the case of human beings, the flowers used for a Puja too are categorized into Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.

This is based on the flower’s origin, shape, fragrance and color.

Flowers that fall into the Sattva and Rajas category are commonly used for everyday worship.

Tamas flowers, on the other hand, are completely avoided during major functions and Pujas, though they might be used at some festivals.

Flowers that fall under the Sattva category include Nandyavartham, Arka, Drona, Jasmine, Coral tree flowers, white lotuses and so on.

The red lotus, white thorn apple flowers, trumpet flowers etc fall under the Rajas category, while the China Rose, cotton plant flowers, Ketaki, Kusa grass etc fall under the Tamas flower category.

Phalam (Fruit)

Offering the phalam or fruits symbolizes surrendering the fruit of our action at the feet of the Lord.

This signifies detachment, surrender and self-sacrifice.

Gandham (Incense)

Gandham or fragrance-emitting materials, such as incense, can collectively be grouped to symbolize our vasanas (samskaras or subconscious inclinations developed) and desires we accumulate throughout our lives.

These we offer to God, in order to obtain liberation from the birth-death cycle.

Incense sticks are created by extracting the perfume of fragrant wood and flowers. Burning these creates a congenial atmosphere for meditation and spiritual contemplation. 

Dhoopam (Smoke)

Dhoop aims at worship of the divine via the sense of smell. Dhoopam or the smoke arising from camphor or incense sticks or powder (samrani) symbolizes our clouded consciousness that creates a huge hurdle on the path of self-realization.

It also signifies the shackles we are bound with in this material world.

Offering dhupam signifies surrendering our fickle, illusory minds to Godhead.

On the elemental side, dhupam stands for air, which again signifies the life-breath or the prana within us.

The term “dhoop” is said to originate from the dhoop tree, which is found in eastern parts of India, and whose chips emit a wonderful fragrance.

But in actuality, dhoop is black-colored putty, which is made from a mixture of wood chips, herbs and ghee.

This could also make for a mini havan of sorts.

But since dhoop works through the power of fragrance, it is not the mainstay of Vedic rituals.

Both the aspects of gandham and dhoopam create an illusion of physical purification. The seeker derives a psychological benefit out of the same, which helps him to delve deeper into his meditation.

Powders used during Pujas

Apart from all the above materials, there are different kinds of powders used in a Puja too.

These include Kumkum (vermilion),

Haldi (turmeric),

Chandan (sandalwood) and Vibhuti (holy ash).

Each of these powders is used for a specific purpose, as listed below.

Kumkum, Chandan and Haldi Powders

Kumkum stands for both our emotions as well as our inner wisdom.

The turmeric and sandalwood symbolizes our inner purity, as also our false ego and inner pride.

Sandalwood additionally gives the seeker peace of mind, cools his system and helps him concentrate during his meditation sessions.

Vibhuti or the sacred ash is usually associated with Lord Shiva.

It is termed as “Vibhuti”, as it endows the seeker with all prosperity.

It is also known by various other names, such as “Bhasma” as it burns away all sins from the seeker; “Bhasitam” or “brightened”, since it enhances one’s spiritual aura; “Ksharam” or “destruction”, since it destroys danger; and “Raksha” or the “protector”, since it acts as a protective armor against negative and evil forces.

Vibhuti is also significant, as it is a reminder of the evanescence of the human body, which will eventually be reduced to a potful of ash after death.

Vibhuti is of great spiritual relevance as well, in Hindu culture.

When Shiva razed down Kama (the God of Love) and reduced him to ashes, nothing remained – all desire was burnt to ashes, but pure love reigned supreme.

So eliminating desires gives rise to that Prema (pure love) welling up from the soul.

Since ash is the final thing, it cannot change, fade, dry or disappear.

It cannot get dirty, lose color or rot over a period of time.

So applying vibhuti on the forehead is symbolic of reaching the state of nothingness and thereby, attain liberation.

The unchangeable nature of ash is also that of the true nature of the soul or the Atman. The vibhuti can be rubbed all over the body or applied on the forehead area between the brows.

Shaivaites (followers of Shiva) also wear stripes of the holy ash across their foreheads and arms.

Vaishnavites (followers of Vishnu) place a Namam on their forehead as Tirumann or the “sacred earth (dust)”.

The Namam consists of three vertical lines, either shaped in a “U” or “Y”, joining at the base.

The two outer white lines symbolize the worship of Brahma and Vishnu, while the central red line stands for the worship of Goddess Sri Mahalakshmi.

The Namam or the Tirumann goes to show that all wearing the same would eventually be transformed into higher spiritual beings. 

Prasad or Naivedya

Prasad or Naivedya is the food that Hindus offer to God during the course of the Puja. This signifies the “avidya” or the ignorance that the devotee offers to the chief deity of the Puja.

The food embodies the ignorant consciousness, which is placed before the deity, so that He may transform it into spiritual enlightenment.

Consuming this Prasad removes the avidya from the follower and fills him/her with the light of true knowledge, which purifies and creates a new, better individual out of the devotee.

Many major Pujas involve sharing of the Prasad with other devotees who have gathered to witness the Puja.

The act of sharing the Prasad signifies sharing the knowledge the devotee has attained, among his fellow beings, thereby purifying him further.

Naivedya is usually offered in metal vessels, such as brass and silver.

Sometimes vessels made of alloys are also used for the same.

Ringing Bells during the Puja

Bells are often rung during Puja, irrespective of whether it is performed at home, temple or sacred place.

Though this has not been laid down as a compulsory Puja rule in any ancient spiritual text, it is now become part and parcel of any Puja.

The symbolic element of ringing a bell during a Puja is that the chime of the bell, especially that of the deep, sonorous bell, is very similar to the sound of the Primal Sound, the “Aum”.

This sound is believed to do away with all unnecessary negatives from the atmosphere, taking away everything that is time-space oriented, and finally letting the devotee touch the plane of the absolute, the one that simply “IS”.

Of course, this is a mere symbolism, but it still creates a holy effect when a sweet-sounding bell is rung during the Puja!  

The sound of tinkling bells diverts the mind from its thoughts and makes it focus on the bells instead, thereby preventing worldly thoughts for that moment.

It could also be considered a sort of “doorbell”, using which the devotee can “announce” his presence to god and stand at His doorstop.

The louder-sounding bells and cymbals rung during major festivals might have been a more social than a spiritual phenomenon.

This was probably a way for the villagers to realize that it was time for worship.

Maybe this was also done to show the particular person’s power in society then.

Bells are generally made of brass and some metal alloys and they come in various shapes and sizes.

Tibetan bells are very ornate and have a deep resonance.

The bigger the bell, the more Naada or resonance it will generate.

Deepam (Light)

Offering deepam (or light) is an integral part of all pujas, major or minor.

This signifies the light residing within us, the true Self that we offer to the divine in a spirit of pure devotion and surrender.

Element-wise, deepam refers to the fire residing inside the Atman.

Simply put, light is believed to be the source of wisdom, as it dispels darkness.

The Self has also been described, in spirituality, as effulgent light.

Symbolically, the oil used represents the vasanas, the wick represents the ego and the fire, the flame of knowledge that burns out the ego.

The lighting of the lamp is a very auspicious occasion at any puja, festival or occasion for this very reason.

It is believed that god inhabits that house where the woman of the house lights the lamp every morning and evening.

The Diwali, the Festival of Lights is celebrated by first lighting little diyas (earthen lamps) and then bursting colourful crackers.

These diyas are made only of natural materials, like clay.


A part of the Deepam category, the term, “Aarti”, is said to have come from the Rigveda, probably among the earliest Hindu scripture.

The Sanskrit term, “Aarati” comes from the roots, “aa”, which means, ‘towards’ and “rati”, which means, ‘the highest love for God’.

This term has many meanings assigned to it.

Some aver that this goes to mean the time just before darkness sets in after sunset.

Others believe that the word, “Aradhana”, which is synonymous with Aarti goes to mean “the greatest love for God”, which gives true and lasting happiness and joy.

The element of fire or light is related to sight or vision.

According to Hinduism, fire cleans and purifies all.

The aarati is performed to achieve just that.

A small piece of camphor, clay or metal lamp with oil or ghee-soaked cotton wicks is placed on a metal plate, along with incense and flowers.

After the camphor or lamp is lighted, the plate is rotated clockwise in front of the vigraha.

This signifies invoking the divine. Bells are rung along with the aarati and prayers or hymns are chanted side-by-side.

When the aarati is performed, it is believed that even the plate and light get blessed by the divine.

That is why the plate is shown around to all, so that all present can put their hands over the flame and touch it to their eyes.

The aarati is usually performed in different ways in several parts of India.

Even the traditional concluding aarati song is different across the regions of India.

But the ultimate aim of the aarati is the smae – to attain that highest love for god.

The aarati performed in South India is known as the Deepa Aradhanai.

The aarati can also be performed in front of a person to ward off all evil spirits and bad omens, to greet people of very high status and to welcome a new member in the family, such as a daughter-in-law or a newborn infant, who are entering the house for the first time.

The aarati is also performed on newly acquired property or land and also during the Bhoomin Pujan (foundation-laying ceremony).

Pujas & Rituals

Puja (pooja) in Sanskrit means worship or reverence to God.

It is a form of worship involving physical as well as oral and mental activities.

It is a way to express one’s individual spirituality and gratitude to Isvara (God) and involves all five senses.

Traditionally, the puja is performed with five offerings to symbolize the five elements, and the elements represented are space, air, fire, water and earth.

The offerings are

pushpa (flowers),

dhupa (incense),

deepa (light),

naivedya (food) and

gandha (sandalwood paste).

Puja is performed on many different occasions, but most practicing Hindus perform puja once or twice daily, and on special occasions.

Except for special pujas, which are performed in temples and gatherings, pujas are performed at Hindu homes, at an altar.

Before the puja ceremony, the puja performer is required to maintain perfect physical and mental purity.

The puja can be in honor of a particular deity and the choice of deity would depend on the individual performing the puja.

During the puja, the performer is supposed to focus completely on God, by paying attention to the chosen deity.

It is an active way of worshipping, a path of worship appropriate for the active person (karma yogi) as well as the contemplative person (jnana yogi).

Most of the puja concerns inviting the deity into the house as a guest. The following are commonly practiced steps of a puja:


1          Dhyaanam    Meditation or Contemplation

2          Aawaahanam           Invitation of the deity into the worshipper’s home

3          Aasanam       Offering the deity a seat

4          Paadyam       Offering of water to wash the feet

5          Arghyam        Offering of water to wash the hands

6          Aachamaniyam        Offering of drinking water

7          Snaanam      Offering of bath

8          Prathishta      Offering of a seat

9          Vasthram       Offering of clothes

10        Gandham      Offering of sandalwood

11        Akshatham    Offering of rice

12        Pushpam       Offering of flowers

13        Ashtothram   Chanting of names of the deity

14        Dhupam        Offering of incense

15        Deepam         Offering of light

16        Naivedyam    Offering of food

17        Namaskaram            Salutations

A puja also always involves (and usually concludes with) arati, which is the circling of a lighted lamp in front of the deity’s statue.

This is customarily accompanied by chanting certain Vedic hymns.

Arati and deepam are a celebration of and prayer for light (symbolizing knowledge) over darkness (symbolizing ignorance).

Sound is an important aspect of a Hindu puja.

A conch shell is usually blown at various intervals during the puja, because of the purity and clarity of its sound.

The conch sound is believed to generate the clearest vibration.

A bell is also rung for the same reason.

These sounds are considered highly auspicious, and serve the purpose of shutting out external noise and concentrating the mind inwards

Water is also used in pujas and is held in a round, straight-necked vessel made of some kind of metal (preferably gold but often something less expensive).

The water cleanses the statue of the deity and is sprinkled on the heads of those who are praying.

The deity is also bathed with a mixture of milk, curds, ghee, honey and sugar.

Dhupam (incense) and gandham (sandalwood paste) both involve the sense of smell.

Incense, when lit, spreads all over the room, reminding the devotees that Ishvara is all-pervasive.

Sandalwood, which is very soft, releases a sweet smell when rubbed against a hard surface.

This symbolizes the ideal way of dealing with life’s difficulties: by maintaining one’s equanimity and cheerfulness and wishing ill upon none, even one’s enemies.

A performer of a puja will also burn camphor during the ritual.

Camphor is used because it burns without leaving a residue, thus converting itself entirely into flame and light.

This symbolizes total destruction of ignorance and total identification with Ishvara.

Yagna is also an active form of worship, similar to puja but performed by a Hindu priest. A ritual fire (agni) is the central element in a yagna, because it is vital to human civilization and because it is the easiest of the five traditionally-recognized elements (space, air, fire, water and earth) to be seen and perceived.

As such, it is used as a representation and visualization of that which cannot be seen or perceived.

What Is Pooja?

Importance Of Puja in Hinduism

Puja is an act of devotional worship, an act of showing reverence to one or more deities that is performed by Hindus.

The worshippers establish a spiritual connection with the deity via prayer, hymn singing, and the gift of natural objects like as fruits, flowers, sweets, and floral garlands.
The devotees do pooja every day, typically in a puja chamber in their residence or a temple.

It is performed with great joy and enthusiasm on festivals, Lakshmi Pooja on Diwali, Durga Pooja on Dussera, Lord Ganeshas Pooja on Ganesh Chathurthi, etc. 
In other cases, puja is held to mark a few lifetime events such as birth of a baby, wedding, house warming or to begin a new venture or journey.

Pooja Samagri, Puja items Used : 

For all these puja ceremonies certain Samagri Puja items or  accessories are used Such as Puja Thali to place Flowers, rice, inscense sticks, kum kum, Haldi, Sandalwood paste, Bell, choupala, etc. 
Diyas or oil lamps are used as the source of light and decoration for Puja. The Baskets to carry pooja essentials to the temple.

1. Pooja Thali Set :

Pooja thali Set, made up of German Silver that contains one plate, one aarti diya, one kalash, one spoon, one bell, two sindoor boxes, one oil lamp and two diyas 
German Silver is resistant to corrosion and named for its silvery appearance.

This Beautiful Pooja Thali set has all the essentials and it is Ideal to be used during special pujas to offer prayers or on other occasions like rituals, marriages etc.

2. Brass Meenakari Pooja Plates: 

Pooja plate is made up of Brass sheet engraved with Meenakari work having symbols like Shubh, Labh, Om, Swastik handcrafted on it.
Meenakari work is famous for colored enamels work on a metal object.

It is extensively used in Bridal Jewelry as engravings on the ornaments are coated with these Enamels.
Meenakrai Pooja Thali is Ideal to be used during Pujas or specials occasions like Marriages.

It can also be used to keep products on it.

Varieties in Pooja plates like Copper Plates, Brass Plates are also available at Ashtok

3. Brass Aarti Diyas: 

Diya or Oil lamp has divine significance in Pooja performing as it symbolises Goodness, Purity, good luck and power.

The existence of light means the non- existence of darkness and evil forces.
Diyas Made up of Brass spreads positive energy and creates a peaceful ambience. These diyas not only has spiritual importance but they are also useful for home decor, Puja room Decoration and temple decoration. 
Varieties of Diyas like Kapoor Aarti diya, Ganga Aarti Diya, Kuber Diya, Hanging Diyas    

4. Brass Puja Bell : 

The sound of the Brass bell is considered auspicious which welcomes divinity and dispels evil.
Brass bell is often used in pooja or other hindu rituals.

It is Handcrafted and Carved intricately with fine details.
The good quality of the Brass material provides protection against easy breakage of the product.

5. Copper Hawan Kund: 

Hawan Kund is mainly used in Yajna , grah puja, Marriages ,Birth ceremony, Naming Ceremony and in temples for puja and other rituals. 
Havan kund is a center place of Havan in which the fire is put and all the offerings are made.
In the Fire of Hawan, wood ,dry fruits ,roots ,natural herbs,ghee and other elements are offered which purifies the air in the home.

6. Choupala: 

Choupala is mainly used for storing kumkum/sindoor, haldi in it and it is placed on the Plate for Performing pooja. 
Brass Choupala

7. Kalash for Pooja: 

Kalash is a kind of pot which is used in pooja and marriage ceremonies.

Holy water is filled in the kalash and is offered to the Lord.

Many people perform daily and offer the holy water to the Sun. 
In marriages Kalash is used to place a coconut inside it.

This represents prosperity and power.

The water in the pot represents the life-giving ability of Nature. 

8. Brass Sindoor Box:

Brass sindoor box or Kum Kum Box is used for storing Sindoor used during Pujas or any rituals.

This sindoor box is considered sacred during the occasions.

What is Puja? Why Do Puja At Home? Benefit of Worship

Puja or its alternative Pooja is a Sanskrit word, which literally means “reverence”, “honour”, “adoration” or “worship”.

In colloquial Tamil, it is called “Poosai” with the same meaning.

The word has also been defined variously by other archaryas and pundits: one Tamil interpretation is, “puja” has two letters—“pa” and “ja”—“Pa” connotes “paaraayana” or ceremonial repetition of sacred texts; and “ja” stands for “japa” or recitation of His Names.

In this sense, “puja” is continuous parayana and japa.

There is yet another explanation, “Pu” represents “pushpam” (=flower) and “ja” means “jaal” (=water).

Hence, in “puja”, we use flowers and water in paying our respect to the Lord.

It has also been said that “puja” derives from “pu-chey”, which literally means “flower-action”, or “action performed with flowers”.

This definition quite accurately describes what happens in the ceremonial act of showing reverence to God through invocation, prater, bhajan and ritual.

Sivacharyar Muthukumara Gurukkal says that the Tamil letter “Pu” in “puja” signifies “the pleasures, auspiciousness and good fortunes of Bhu loka”.

The letter “jai” denotes an “instrument that easily brings something to us”.

Hence, “puja” is an effective but spiritual tool that brings all that we rightly deserve for living in this world. (pg. 11, Home Puja).

Why Should One Perform Puja?

His Holiness Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh explains in his celebrated book “All About Hinduism” (pg. 108): “Puja is the common term for ritual worship, of which there are numerous synonyms such as Archana, Vandana, Bhajana, etc.,

though some of these stress certain aspects of it.

“The object of worship is the Ishta Devata or guiding Deity or the particular form of the Deity whom the devotee worships-Narayana or Vishnu as such, or His forms as Rama and Krishna in the case of Vaishnavas, Siva in His eight forms in the case of Saivas and Devi in the case of Saktas.

The devotee selects sometimes his Kuladeva or Kuladevi, family Deva or Devi, for his worship.

Sometimes, the Devata is chosen for him by his Guru or spiritual preceptor.

Sometimes, he himself chooses that Devata which most appeals to him.

This form is his Ishta Devata.

An object is used in the outer Puja such as an image (Pratima), a picture, or an emblem such as Saligrama in the case of Vishnu worship or Linga in the case of worship of Siva.

“Whilst all things may be the objects of worship, choice is naturally made of those objects which, by reason of their effect on the mind, are more fitted for it.

An image or one of the useful emblems is likely to raise in the mind of the worshipper the thought of a Devata.”

Is There a Need For an Image, Murthi, Vigraha When We Perform Puja?

“Puja”, some erudite Hindu scholars opine, is a post-Vedic Hindu practice.

In Vedic times, it has been said, “Homa” or the offering of grains and sanctified liquids into sacrificial fire, was what that been in vogue.

As the texture of Man’s mind changed, archaryas had introduced a form of worship, which we today call “puja”: it differs from the Vedic sacrifice primarily in the fact, unlike the Homa, that image, vigraha (=murthi) or a representation of God is used in the worship.

Such a ritualistic worship is highly symbolical with deep philosophical, esoteric and spiritual import.

Some Hindu pundits have said “vigraha” (a Sanskrit word) etymologically can be divided into “vi” (=removes) and “graham(m)” (planets): that which removes the ill effects of the “grahas” or planets.

Swami Sivananda explains further the reason for the use of vigraha (pg. 109, All About Hinduism): “Saligrama stone induces easily concentration of mind.

Everybody has got predilection for a symbol, emblem or image.

Idol or Murti (Vigraha), sun, fire, water, Ganga, Saligrama and Linga are all symbols or Pratikas of God which help the aspirants to attain one-pointedness of mind and purity of heart.

“These are all personal inclinations in the worshipper due to his belief in their special efficacy for him.

Psychologically, all this means that a particular mind finds that it works best in the direction desired by means of particular instruments or emblems or images.

The vast bulk of humanity are either of impure or of weak mind.

Therefore, the object of worship must be pure for these people.

The objects that are capable of exciting lust and dislike must be avoided.

But, a higher, advanced Sadhaka who has a pure mind and who sees the divine presence everywhere and in everything, can worship any kind of object.”

Home Puja

“Puja” can be done in the home, temple, during ceremonies and at festivals.

Every Hindu home must have a personal shrine at an appropriate place in the house.

It is a imperative that every Hindu should do daily puja at home.

A daily puja usually consists of a simple worship of offerings, such as an offering of light, water and incense, and/or fruit, followed by an aarti.

Home puja includes several agamic upacaras (=observances).

The following is an example of what constitutes a Home puja done by aspirants in the Smartha or perhaps even in Saivite tradition:

  1. Dyana/ Avahana (“invocation”): The deity is invited to the ceremony.
  2. Asana: The deity is offered a seat.
  3. Paathyam: The deity’s feet are washed.
  4. Arghya: Water is offered so the deity may wash His face and hands.
  5. Acamanıya: Water is offered to Him.
  6. Madhuparka: The deity is offered water, honey, milk, etc.
  7. Snana or abhisekha: Water is offered for bathing.
  8. Acamaniya.
  9. Vastra: Offering clothes to the Deity
  10. Upaneeyam: Adorning the deity with turmeric, etc.
  11. Aaparanam: Adorning Him with jewels.
  12. Kantham: Adorning Him with perfumes.
  13. Atchathai: Offering Tumeric-flavoured rice.
  14. Puspa: Flowers are offered to the Lord.
  15. Archana: Recitation of Mantras
  16. Dhupa: Incense is burned for the Deity.
  17. Dıpa: A burning lamp is waved in front of the image.
  18. Naivedya or prasada: Foods for the deity.
  19. Paaneeyam: Oblation.
  20. Acamanıya.
  21. Thaampulam: Offering Vettrilai to the Deity.
  22. Aarati
  23. Mantra Pushpam: Offering flowers to the Deity.
  24. Thothiram.
  25. Paarayana
  26. Japa
  27. Dyana
  28. Namaskara: The worshiper and family prostrate to the Deity.
  29. Prarthana
  30. Shanthi mantra
  31. Aarathi
  32. Mangalam
  33. Prayachittam: Mitigatory prayers
  34. Samarpanam
  35. Yathasth-thaanam: conclusion
  36. Acamaniya

What is Puja?

With populations centered mainly in India and Nepal, roughly 1.1 billion people in the world identify themselves as Hindu.

As one of the world’s five most common religious beliefs, Hinduism consists of practices intended to enhance the religious, spiritual, moral, and cultural lives of those who practice this faith.

Unlike Christianity, which focuses on worshiping a single God as a trinity, Hinduism emphasizes a belief in deities with multiple ways of manifesting themselves in both masculine and feminine forms.

In addition, Hinduism represents a way of life, based on the tenets contained in the Vedas, the knowledge and concepts practiced by Hindu people in their daily lives.

A central cultural component of Hinduism is the incorporation of the puja into the religious practices of the Indian Hindu people.

What is a puja?

Puja, also referred to as pooja (singular) or poojas (plural), is a method of worship combining prayer and the giving of offerings to different deities.

Derived from the Sanskrit word meaning “to honor” or “to worship,” pujas are practiced not only by Hindu people but also by Buddhists and those who practice Jainism, an ancient religion of India.

This lesson, however, focuses primarily on pujas as practiced within Hinduism.

What Happens in a Puja Ceremony?

Whether in a temple or at home, the puja ceremony is an important component of the Hindu faith for many Hindu people.

What is a puja ceremony?

A traditional puja ceremony typically consists of 16 to 27 steps that can be performed over different lengths of time, depending on the purpose of the puja.

Shorter ceremonies, for instance, can be used for daily practice, while longer ceremonies might be used for special celebrations and festivals.

Some of the important components of a puja include:

  • An altar containing an image of the deity
  • Clay or metal lamps to light up the altar
  • Vegetarian food offerings made to the deity
  • An urn containing water for cleaning the image of the deity
  • Incense for burning in honor of the deity

The Hindu performing a puja uses chants intended to venerate the deity and indicate their soul’s purity and intentions.

Then the person performing the puja carries out a series of breathing actions to clarify the body and the mind.

During the puja ceremony, the worshiper states their intentions and the purpose of the ceremony, as well as the specific requests or blessings made of the deity.

Depending on the type of puja, the ceremony can be either elaborate or simple, as will be further described in the following subsections.

Hinduism Rituals: Elaborate Puja

Some Hinduism rituals involving elaborate puja are often carried out in temple settings or for special occasions such as weddings and funerals.

Festivals celebrated during the year, such as Ramanavmi, Ganesa Chaturthi, and Durga Puja, also incorporate elaborate puja consisting of 27 steps.

In addition to the basic components described above, such as an altar, lamps, food offerings, water, and incense, the Brahmin priest performs chants and offerings using the following steps:

How is puja performed?

A puja is performed by inviting a deity to an altar.

The layperson or priest then offers water, food, incense, and flowers to the deity.

Pujas are often performed to request good fortune and health from a deity.

What is the ritual of puja?

The ritual of puja can be an elaborate or a simple ceremony in which the layperson or priest invites a deity and makes offerings to honor the deity.

The layperson or priest then asks for the blessings of the deity.

How many types of puja are there?

There are many different types of pujas practiced within the Hindu faith.

However, they can be classified into two broad categories: elaborate and simple.

Elaborate pujas involve 27 steps carried out by the priest, while the simple puja involves 16 steps derived from the elaborate puja.

Importance of Hindu Puja items

In Hinduism, devotees have a certain procedure of worshipping their Gods, Goddess and Gurus during all significant occasions.

Hindus perform the “Puja”- traditional ritual to spiritually pay their tribute to their Gods and ancestors.

So Puja is an important act to be conducted on every occasion as per Hindu calendar

In order to perform any Hindu Puja, we need to know few important details such as the occasion of Puja, the importance of the Puja, its benefits and the Puja items require to perform the particular Hindu Puja.

Every Puja has a different requirement of Puja Items.

To avoid any last minute hassle one must make a list of all Puja items and then buy Puja items online or they can Book Puja Items kit which provides you with complete package.

Below is the list of all important Hindu Puja items require to perform a normal Puja:

  1. Puja Thali: A copper, silver or gold plated circular plate where you will keep all other important Puja Items.

This Puja Thali will be used for Aarti (Circular rotation of plate over the image or idol of God or Goddesses) purpose.

2. Navgraha Shanti packs including Ketu Shanti pack, Rahu Shanti pack, Shani Shanti pack etc. consists of different small items that are necessary to carry out certain puja.

3. Holy water is a crucial Puja item for all types of Pujas as they are used to wash the deity idol, and for offering Abhishek.

Water from holy rivers such as Ganges, Narmada is considered as holy water.

Also the Rudraksha Water, Gulabjal, Kewra, Gomutra etc. and these are used are different types of Holy water.

  • Sindoor is a powder used as Tilak on forehead to invoke the divine.

It can be used by both men and women after puja.

The alternatives available are the sandalwood powder, red sandal powder, Haldi-Kumkum, Kesari gandh, Kamakhya Sindoor etc.

  • Incense sticks of various fragrances are used to spread positivity.

An elegant incense stick holders is kept in Thali.

The ash of incense stick is also used as Tilak.

  • Camphor: It is used for aarti purpose.

After Puja is done the burning camphor is used to seek blessings of God.

7. Sweets or Prasad are important part of every Hindu Puja as they are distributed among the family members after the Puja ceremony.

8. Flowers are very significant in Hindu Pujas as they are used as offering to God and Goddesses. Lotus, Jasmine and Mogra are most commonly used flowers.

9. Storages boxes also known as potlis are an important Hindu puja item.

It is used tp keep small items such as cotton wicks, charcoal, Shvetark thread, bhasma, holy/sacred threads, etc.

In addition to above Puja items, there are many other Puja items that are required in different types of Pujas.

The pujas can be performed at one’s home or in a temple; it can be performed by a priest or by oneself along with family members, no matter how it is performed, the necessary puja items should be present in its pure or clean form.