The Hindu ritual of aarti derives from the ancient Vedic concept of fire ceremony or the ‘havan’. A lamp (diya) is lighted and put on a plate (the aarti thali), which contains also flowers, incense and other puja offerings. The light is offered to the deity by circulating the aarti thali in front of the deity, while devotional songs to praise God are sung by all members present. These songs are also called aartis. Traditionally an aarti is held at the end of a puja, kirtan or other religious festivity. A well known aarti is the one performed each evening to Mother Ganga at Varanasi (see picture below). What is the meaning of aarti? When aarti is performed before God, it is believed that the plate and the light get blessed by the deity. The priest passes on the aarti plate from one person to another, who cup the flickering fire lightly with their down-turned hands. Then, they put their hands over the flame and then touch their forehead, as a gesture of seeking holy blessings. There are various significances of performing aarti like giving the devotees a better darshan of the deities or a special way of saying goodbye to God. At a deeper level we can see the fire as a representation of the spiritual light within. It is our connection to the Divine. Aarti makes us aware of the Inner Light we have all inside of us. By performing aarti we pray to the Divine Light within ourself.