By Sowmya Ramkumar
Object of Puja Ritual
Puja ritual or worship of idols or images of God has become in recent times a great and potent tenet of faith and belief in out Hindu Religion or Sanatana Dharma.
Puja is not only performed in temples but also in most of our homes. So too, we worship God in our Satsangh meetings before we start our days' programme of kirtans and/or study of scriptures.
The object of the puja ritual is to create and setup thoughts of spiritual forces in and around us. This is best achieved by singing or chanting of some mantra, performing certain actions and making offerings in three defined stages. Each mantra is a magazine of vast spiritual forces.
The first stage of worship consists of purification by driving out the devils or bad tendencies and invoking devas or good tendencies. This is done by ringing a bell and chanting "HariH OM" and 'aagamanaartham ...". All must join in the singing of this mantra.
After this is over, the leader says "Om bhur bhuvah svah". This is called "digbandhana" and consists of chanting the sacred OM and the above three words called "vyaahrites". By chanting this, we make a protective shell around us. All the portals of the heart are closed against the ingress of the raakshasaas or evil tendencies. At the end of the puja we break the shell by chanting the three vyahrities first and OM last.
thus the shell is formed.
Now commences the 2nd stage of puja ritual.
Our attempts here would be to tune our minds to meditate upon God with a form by chanting prayers and then contemplate upon the eternal purusha by chanting the purusha suukta. The Lord of the universe is very magnificently described and praised in this vedic hymn.
These prayers are called the dhyaanam or "mantras of invocation".
Then we come to the third stage of our puujaa ritual. The maNDala brahmana upanishhad explains the spiritual significance of the sixteen phased offerings (shoDaShopachaara) to the God invoked and installed in the idol or image or photo during the puujaa.
The sixteen offerings are made in five steps.
Next the naivedyam is offered by pouring a few drops of water in our right palm and by uttering the names of praaNa and brahma. After naivedya, taambula or betel leaf is offered.
At that time a little water is poured into the right palm and offered as the naivedya, chanting thus:
then we have the 3rd waving of lights called niiraajana or ma.ngala aaratii. All must stand in their respective places.
ma.ngala niiraajana samarpayaami
A light is waved for the 3rd time in the manner stated in the instructions, chanting the following mantra
na tatra suuryo bhaati na chandra taarakaM
The leader waves the light 3 times before the feet of the lord, then 3 times before the head, then 3 times from feet to head - all in circular motions from right side to left side. All chant the above mantra.
The lighted lamp or camphor is taken to all the persons assembled as a reminder of the eternal light of spirit shedding its glory within each one of them.
Fourth stage of puja ritual
This consists of performing the visarjana by sending back the God or Goddess invoked for the ritual and breaking up the shell by chanting of "bhuurbhuvasvarOM".
End of puujaa
At the closing of puujaa ritual, shaanti mantras are chanted and the entire puujaa ritual is dedicated to the supreme lord or eterna purusha called brahmana.
OM purrnamadaH ...
OM bhadraM karNebhiH ...
svasti na indro ...
OM sarve bhavantu sukhinaH ...
OM asato maa sadgamaya ...
Last Updated on 07/05/03