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Puja Guide

What is a puja?
At this web shop we offer you not only the opportunity to buy religious articles, but also information on how to perform pujas. In this guide we provide approved instructions for a wide variety of pujas for the most commonly worshipped deities. You thereby have access to correct information checked by Brahmins on how to perform a puja ensuring the best possible result.

The word puja is Sanskrit and means literally: adoration, honour, worship. It is the way in which the devotee symbolizes his or her affection for the Lord. An offering is given to a deity and blessings are received. A puja can vary in scale from a small home puja to a big festivity like Ganesh Chaturthi in the streets of a city.


Central to any puja is the relationship between the devotee and the Lord. There are procedures or rules for each puja, but along the way of Bhakti you will develop your own manner of honouring. You will then rely less on the suggestions we offer here as your own relationship with your deity finds its own form.


The present age does not allow us to recreate the exact Vedic means of purification as practised when the Vedas were transcribed. However, the ceremonies and rituals we describe here are approved adaptations to our present time and circumstance. This ensures the best possible results for each puja.


One of the characteristics of all puja rituals is that they consist of an offering. However, the essential characteristic of any puja is the attention and love with which it is carried out. During the puja, often a wide variety of objects are used for the offering, for example a lamp, incense, thali, bell, etc. Thepujashop.com aims to meet all of these puja requirements.


Home puja
In most Hindu homes there is a shrine with pictures or murtis of specific deities. A daily puja is often performed and includes offerings to the family’s personal deity. The daily puja is usually a small puja consisting of one to five steps, also called upacara´s. Water, light, incense, flowers and/or food can be offered.

Large home pujas are held when there is something special to celebrate such as a birthday, anniversary, passed exams, etc. The elements of a small home puja are incorporated into a large home puja when more upacara´s are added.

Full home puja
A full home or temple puja can include several traditional upacaras. The following is an example puja that can vary according to tradition.

  1. 1. Avahana (“invocation”). The deity is invited.
  2. 2. Asana. The deity is offered a seat.
  3. 3. Svagata (“greeting”). The deity is asked if the journey has gone well.
  4. 4. Padya. The deity’s feet are symbolically washed.
  5. 5. Arghya. Water is offered so the deity may wash face and teeth.
  6. 6. Acamanıya. Water is offered for sipping.
  7. 7. Madhuparka. The deity is offered a water-and-honey drink.
  8. 8. Snana or abhisekha. Water is offered for symbolic bathing.
  9. 9. Vastra (“clothing”). Here a cloth may be wrapped around the image and ornaments affixed to it.
  10. 10. Anulepana or gandha. Perfumes and ointments are applied to the image.
  11. 11. Puspa. Flowers are offered before the image, or garlands draped around its neck.
  12. 12. Dhupa. Incense is burned before the image.
  13. 13. Dıpa or arati. A burning lamp is waved in front of the image.
  14. 14. Naivedya or prasada. Foods such as cooked rice, fruit, clarified butter, sugar, and betel leaf are offered.
  15. 15. Namaskara or pranama. The worshiper and family bow or prostrate themselves before the image to offer homage.
  16. 16. Visarjana or udvasana. The deity is dismissed.
Puja usually starts with an offering to Lord Ganesha. Then the deities of your choice can follow.
Pujas for all Deities
It is always important to perform the puja from your heart. Changes can be made according to the location or the occasion on which the puja is performed. The description of the puja varies with the situation. Here the pujas are described as they are most often performed.

  1. a. Ganesha
Ganesha is the most worshipped deity . Puja usually starts with an offering to Lord Ganesha as he is the remover of obstacles. Then the deities of your choice can follow. To Lord Ganesha are besides the items mentioned above fruit and sweets offered, as they are his favorite food.

  1. b. Durga puja
Durga is the Mother Goddess. During the year there is a special time when Durga is worshipped. The dates of Durga Puja celebrations are set according to the traditional Hindu calendar.

  1. c. Hanuman
Hanuman is a devoted servant to Rama and Sita. He is often pictured kneeled besides Rama and Sita. Because of that he is worshipped as the ultimate symbol of bhakti. By worshipping Hanuman we can learn to become a selfless servant and let go our selfish interests. He is known for his enormous stength.

  1. d. Shiva Lingam abhishek
The Shiva Lingam is the symbol for Shiva who is without beginning and without end. Honoring it will bring you closer to the Eternal Truth.

A puja performed for the Shiva lingam is usually called Abhishek (Abhisheka or Abhishekam).The word Abhishek derives from the Sanskrit word ‘to make wet’ and refers to the part of the puja, where the deities are bathed. In a Shiva lingam puja the bathing is emphasized, as the shiva lingam needs to be cooled because it can produce a considerable amount of heat. After bathing the Shiva lingam is cleansed with water and the Lingam is honoured with offerings as the offering of light (aarti) and/or flowers.

To perform the Abhishek the following is needed: five liquids, a bowl to catch the liquids in, sandalwood paste, ghee lamp, incense, fresh flowers, sweets, bel leave. It is wise to take a bath before performing puja and to put on clean clothes.

During puja the mantra ‘Aum namah Shivaaya’ is recited and/or songs which praise the Lord Shiva. Often the devotee wears a rudraksha mala in honor of Shiva. Incense is burning and a ghee lamp is lit.

The bathing: one after the other five liquids are poured out over the lingam. Liquids that can be used are water, milk, yoghurt, ghee, coconut milk/water, honey, cane juice or fruit juices. The liquids are retained in a bowl; they contain divine energy.

After bathing the lingam has to be cleansed with water. With sandalwood paste a tilak is made on the clean lingam and it is showered with flowers. Offering of light (Aarti) takes place , while the bell rings. Now, often bel leave is offered: it is put on top of the lingam with the steel pointing towards yourself. If no bel leave is available, you can skip this part. Next fruit and sweets are offered. All kinds of fruit can be used; coconut is one of the favorite. Again Aarti is performed . White ashes are smeared on the forehead of the devotee and of the other people present. The offered fruit and sweets are shared as prasadam.
Havan
Havan means an offering to the sacred fire. In the fire our offering is cleansed and brings new energy to the cosmos. The fire is made in a kund with wooden sticks, camphor and ghee. Usually the havan is presided by a priest but the havan can also be performed without a priest present.

Festivities

Diwali
Diwali, popularly known as the "festival of lights, is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes.

Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (diyas or dīpas) in Sanskrit: दीप) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.

Deepawali or Diwali is certainly the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals. It's the festival of lights (deep = light and avali = a row i.e., a row of lights) that's marked by four days of celebration, which literally illumines the country with its brilliance, and dazzles all with its joy. Each of the four days in the festival of Diwali is separated by a different tradition, but what remains true and constant is the celebration of life, its enjoyment and goodness.

The third day is the most important day: marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth in her most benevolent mood, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees.

Navratri
During Navratri the 3 aspects of the Mother Goddess Shakti: Durga / Kali, Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped during nine nights.

When?
There are four Navratri’s each year, however the 2 most celebrated are the one in March/April, also called Vasant Navraatri, Ram Navratri or Chaitra Navratri, and the most celebrated one in October/November. The other two Navratris are known as Gupt Navratri and Magh Navratri. In2011 Vasant Navratri is 4-12 April and the second Navratri is 28 September - 5 October.

Why? / What is it?
In Hindu filosofie The Mother Goddesses represents the power of Shakti. Shakti is the absolute energy that creates the Universe. The first three days of Navratri are dedicated to Goddess Durga (Warrior Goddess) dressed in red and mounted on a lion. On the first three days her incarnations Kumari, Parvati and Kali are worshipped. These three incarnations represent the three different phases a woman goes through in her life: the child, the girl and the woman. The following three days are dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, who is the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, dressed in gold and mounted on an owl. The last three days are dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess Of Knowledge and Arts, who is dressed in milky white and mounted on a pure white swan.

How?
During Navratri devotees chant mantras, sing songs and bhajans for the Goddess. Puja´s and prayers are offered and it is considered auspicious to fast during Navratri. There are many gatherings in the form of group celebrations and festivals.

Puja and meditation (self contemplation)
In our Pujaguide you can find rituals you can perform during Navratri. Besides performing rituals there are other ways in which you can absorb the auspicious energy of Navratri. During for example meditation or every moment during your daily life, focus on the energy of creation, maintenance and destruction of Shakti. This energy is present in us and everything around us. Being aware of this power and acknowledging it as the engine of the Universe and thus yourself, will bring this energy closer to you, resulting in becoming one with yourself. Being aware of this energy being omnipresent, will release you from the idea that it is your individual person (Ego) being the energy behind everything, that can set your mind free from egoistic boundaries and impossibilities. Instead we should consider ourselves as vehicles in a bigger plan, using Shakti in every activity we perform.

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