Pooja or alternative transliteration Pooja, (Sanskrit: reverence, honour, adoration, or worship) is a religious ritual performed by Hindus as an offering to various deities, distinguished persons, or special guests. It is done on a variety of occasions and settings, from daily puja done in the home, to temple ceremonies and large festivals, or to begin a new venture. Puja is modeled on the idea of giving a gift or offering to a deity or important person and receiving their blessing. The two main areas where puja is performed is in the home and at public temples. There are many variations in scale, offering, and ceremony. Puja is also performed on special occasions such as Durga Puja and Lakshmi Puja.
Many Hindu homes have a personal shrine set aside somewhere in the house that include pictures or murtis of various deities. A daily puja is often dedicated to the family deities (kuldevta) and personal deities (ishta-devata). A daily puja usually consists of a simple worship of offerings, such as an offering of light, water and incense, and/or fruit. Usually with a small aarti (lamp ritual) afterwards. Puja can be performed with any available offerings. A puja thali (plate) consists of a diya (lamp), haldi or kumkum, sweetmeats or fruits, water, bell, and jos (incense) sticks. Aarti is usually performed with this offering afterward using an aarti mantra, e.g. Om Jai Jagadish Hare. The Hindu symbol is called Aum or Om.
The puja ritual is used by Hindus worldwide. A Hindu teacher wakes up extra early to perform the ritual.
Temple pujas are more elaborate and typically done several times a day. They are also performed by a temple priest, or pujari. In addition, the temple deity (God) is considered a resident rather than a guest, so the puja is modified to reflect that; for example the deity is “awakened” rather than “invoked” in the morning. Temple pujas vary widely from region to region and for different sects, with devotional hymns sung at Vaishnava temples for example. At a temple puja, there is often less active participation, with the priest acting on behalf of others.
In Hinduism, Yagya is a ritual of sacrifice (Monier-Williams gives the meanings “worship, prayer, praise; offering, oblation, sacrifice”) derived from the practice of Vedic times. It is performed to please the gods or to attain certain wishes. An essential element is the sacrificial fire – the divine Agni – into which oblations are poured, as everything that is offered into the fire is believed to reach the gods. As the name of the service, the term yagya is linguistically (but not functionally) cognate with Zoroastrian (Ahura) Yasna. Unlike Vedic Yajna, Zoroastrian Yasna has “to do with water rather than fire”
A Vedic (shrauta) yagya is typically performed by an adhvaryu priest, with a number of additional priests such as the hotar, udgatar playing a major role, next to their dozen helpers, by reciting or singing Vedic verses. Usually, there will be one or three fires in the centre of the offering ground and items are offered into the fire. Among the items offered as oblations in the yagya include large quantities of ghee, milk, grains, cakes, or soma. The duration of a yagya depends on the type; some can last a few minutes, hours or days and some even last for years, with priests continuously offering to the gods accompanied with sacred verses. Some yagyas are performed privately, others with a large number of people in attendance.
Post-Vedic yagyas, where milk products, fruits, flowers, cloth and money are offered, are called “yaga”, homa or havana.
A typical Hindu marriage is a yagya, because Agni is supposed to be the witness of all marriages. Brahmins and certain other castes receive a yagyopavita “sacred cord” at their upanayana rite of passage. The yagyopavita symbolizes the right of the individual to study the Vedas and to carry out yagyas or homas.
Temple worship is called agamic, while communication to divinity through Agni, is considered Vedic. Today’s temple rites are a combination of both Vedic and Agamic rituals. The sacrificial division of Hindu scripture is the Karma-Kanda portion of the Vedas which describe or discuss most sacrifices. The Nambudiri Brahmins of Kerala are among the most famous Shrauta Brahmins who maintain these ancient rituals.
Today, only a few hundred individuals know how to perform these sacrifices and even fewer are able to maintain the sacred fires continuously and perform the shrauta rituals. Only a few thousand perform the Agnihotra or basic Aupasana fire sacrifice daily .
All of our consultants from this limited population, contact us for Poojas and Rituals…