Pooja or Puja is a Hindi word which means ‘worship’. Hence through pooja, a devotee expresses his veneration towards God. Puja however gets a broader meaning when specifically intended to establish a bond with the supreme power. Yet there is a general procedure to perform pooja, laid down by ancient Hindu scriptures. The general course of action to perform pooja consists of chanting mantras, offering flowers, Prasad [fruits or sweets], lightning diyas or earthen lamps etc.
General guidelines to perform pooja:
According to Hindu tradition, pooja ritual is a combination of all the five elements viz. space, air, water, fire and earth which are the raw material for our existence.
- Chanting the mantras in the name of God signifies the space elements, as these ancient mantras are always resonating in the space since ancient times. Chanting the name of God ties the devotee to him instantly and his names vibrates with his frequency in the cosmos.
- Burning incense sticks denotes the air element, as the fragrance coming out of the sticks spread everywhere with the air.
- Lighting camphor or lamp stands for the fire element spreading light and warmth of divinity.
- Water element is expressed by a small vessel full of water as an offering to the deity.
- Offering sweets, fruits, milk, curd or honey acts as the earth element.
Every step in pooja signifies the urge of devotee to mingle with the God and to follow his path of spirituality to purify his ‘karma.’
Benefits of Pooja:
Benefits of pooja are vast and cannot be covered under few points. It is a very personal experience that an individual feels. Although general benefits of pooja are:
- Rejuvenation of mind and body.
- Ushering internal peace.
- Maintaining discipline.
- Diverting the mind towards purity of thoughts and action.
Forms of Puja:
Puja rituals have diversifications according to the deity or the occasion for which the pooja ceremony has to be performed. Thus different procedures are followed for pooja during grah shanti, gruhpravesh, birth, death or for celebrating any festival.
Homam / Yagya or Hawan:
Performing Homam or Yagya is a distinct form of pooja in which a particular deity is invited by invoking fire or Agni. Homam is a process in which offerings in the form of grains, ghee, honey or gud is offered in the fire burning inside a hawan kund or vessel for performing homam. Hawan kunds in ancient times were made of clay and bricks.
Agni is considered as a representation of Surya or Sun, which is the biggest source of energy on earth. Performing yagna is infact giving reverence to Sun God through offerings which then eventually is accepted by the deities. Homam fire is believed to purify the environment by destroying undesirable elements in the atmosphere.
Homam can be performed for fulfillment of desires like wealth, health, prosperity, marriage, long life, education etc.