Puja : Intro and Steps to Worship

(c) – Kayla Baboolal

This series is in dedication to my Maternal Grandfather, who was a devote folk-hindu worshiper of the Brahmin line.  When visiting Trinidad, I use to always sit with him and try to learn as much as I could about his path and the beautiful morning and evening pujas he conducted at home.  Mama incorporated aspects of puja into her work with the ‘Lady’ at her separate altar located outside in the grove.  This was yet another way I was exposed to how different paths are and can be connected.  How we can show respect to each other and learn from each other.

I have attended several Pagan Festivals and meet many individuals who, with true sincerity, have attempted to add aspects of the Hindu Gods to their Pagan Paths, however, not having exposure to this path, they sometimes did not understand the whys and hows of the process.  Since my Grandfather’s passing, I created a simple workshop series to share the knowledge of that aspect of my lineage with those who are interested.  My focus for this series will be the use of fundamental aspects of puja which can be utilized or incorporated into various eclectic shamanic or ritual paths.  The steps, the tools, the deities, mantras, yantras and more will be covered.  These details are taken from my on works originally posted on my Shakti-Shaman WordPress site.

INTRODUCTION TO WORSHIP

Puja, the Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist act of ritual and prayer, allows an individual to meet the fundamental need to connect the Divinity within to the Source of Creation. In the ‘Puja Series’ of posts you will learn the traditional steps of puja and the symbolic significance of items used during this ritualistic form of worship. The act of puja can be used for large ceremonies, to mark the passage of time, or for daily meditation to mark the rituals of life. It has beauty in its structure, timelessness in its effects and healing at its core.

Hinduism can be a very complex and structured religion, or, a very earth-based and flexible spirituality. As with other Shamanic based spiritual paths, there are some basic rules to follow regardless of the method of worship used. Similar to other Shamanic paths (Druidic, Vodoun), the puja begins by paying tribute and making petition to the Gatekeeper, the basic steps follow below.

The basic steps include a call to The Gatekeeper. Within the ceremony is included a Song or Mantra, the creation of presentation of a Symbol or Yantra and an Offertory preference through Prasad.  All dieties from all paths have their own preferences, know them.

Knowing how to bond with Deity and creating your relationship is a lifelong journey, made all the sweeter for the company along the way.

TYPES OF CEREMONY

Pujas can be either water (feminine) or fire (masculine) ceremonies.  Traditionally, it is the water ceremony that was referred to as a Puja, and the fire ceremony was called a yajnas, which would commence with a short water ceremony.

In modern era, pujas can be conducted using either discipline, or a combination of each for balance and harmony.  Water represents Spirit, it is receptive and active in its movement and flow. It is the carrier of our desires created during puja.  It is received from the heavens in the highest mountain regions of the world, yet flows down to us in offering.

Fire carries back up the sacrifices we offer in thanks to the Creator.  It purifies our earthly offerings, and transforms our desires into energy for action.

STEPS FOR CONDUCTING 3 TYPES OF PUJAS

A great puja is usually a community affair or performed during important occasions like religious festivals and is comprised of all the steps below.

An intermediate puja includes the steps from “madhu-parka to naivedya” and is performed during fasts or birthdays of deities.

A small puja involves the steps from “gandha to naivedya” and is performed everyday. All pujas end with arati

  • Avahana – the invocation of the deity. Asana – a seat is offered to the deity.
  • Svagata – the deity is welcomed, asked Honour, worship, reverence.’ to anoint or smear with sandalwood paste or vermilion.
  • Padya – the feet of the deity are washed with water.
  • Arghya – a respectful offering of water is made to the god. This water is laced with sandalwood paste, vermilion and rice
  • Achamania – water is then offered for washing the face and mouth of the deity.
  • Madhu-parka – a beverage made of honey, sugar, and milk is offered to the deity.
  • Snanajala – the deity is offered water for bathing.
  • Bhushana
  • Abharanasya – clothes jewels and ornaments are offered next.
  • Gandha – sandalwood paste or any other fragrant object is offered.
  • Akshata – grains of rice mixed with vermilion are offered.
  • Pushpa offered.
  • Pushpanjali – flowers are offered.
  • Dhupa – incense is lit.
  • Dipa – the lamp is lit. (Diya)
  • Naivedya – rice, fruit, butter and sugar are offered next.
  • Visarjana – the deity is finally bidden farewell.
  • At the end, arati is performed.

The object of performing the puja in this manner is to treat the deity as one would a guest, with honour and respect. In temples, the deities are treated as kings.

Though the steps of worship are the same for all deities, there is some difference in the puja of each. For instance, the kind of flowers offered is different for each deity.

Presently, a puja might also involve japa or meditation. A very important part of any puja is the applying of tilaka and the distribution of Prasad to devotees.

 

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