Pooja (or puja) is a ceremonial ritual that is practiced in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. It usually involves the worship of a particular deity through prayers, oblations, singing, chants and various other practices.
It is said that the purpose of pooja is for the practitioner to achieve purity of mind. In the Hindu philosophy, the ultimate goal is to get closer to the concept of Brahman, which is the ‘ultimate reality’ in the universe.
In this article, we’re going to further discuss the concept of puja and the various rituals associated with it. We’ll go through the importance of these variations as well as the symbolism behind some of the pooja items used in these ceremonies.
Various Pooja Ceremonies
The term pooja is derived from the Dravidian words ‘pu’ which means flower, and ‘ge’ which stands for make. Putting these two terms together is said to convey the idea of making a flower sacrifice. Indeed, pooja, at its simplest form, is the ritual of offering flowers or fruit for the sake of a hindu deity.
In Hinduism, however, there are several different rituals that a practitioner might follow on a daily basis.
Here are the five different prayer/ritual variations:
This is a prayer and a ritual of worship that occurs at the junctions of time. This includes dawn, dusk and the period between forenoon and afternoon.
Aarti is a ritual of worship where a light (usually in the form of a flame) is offered to the deities while the practitioner sings songs of prayer.
A homa is a fire ritual that involves offering oblations (sacrifices) to the deity. The fire may be used to cook food or heat the practitioner’s home.
This ritual involves holding a vigil while partaking in devotional singing.
This refers to the practice of ceremonial fasting.
According to Britannica, the way in which pooja is carried out will differ depending on the religious sect or community that you’re a part of, your geographical location, the time of day, your needs as practitioner and the religious or cultural text that you’re following.
The Importance of Images in pooja
One of the most important aspects of puja is the image of the relevant deity. If an image can’t be procured, sometimes a symbolic pooja item can stand in as a manifestation of a god. This could be the shivalingam, salagrama, or yantra.
The purpose of the image or the symbol is to prevent the practitioner’s mind from wandering. It allows them to concentrate on the ritual and helps them properly revere the god that is being manifested in the image or item.
According to the tradition of Hinduism, if the ritual is performed with full devotion, the deity will descend and become the image itself.
Who Can Perform The Ritual?
Poojas can be performed by a lone worshiper, but other rituals may require a priest or another qualified individual. Additionally, the ritual can be performed for a specific purpose or out of devotion to the religion or a specific deity.
The concept of pooja is a storied and complex one. It spans multiple religions, countries, and schools of thought. Hopefully, this short blog gave you a little bit of insight on what this practice entails and its importance in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.