Seven Important Hindu Rituals
We are presenting another series of Hindu Rituals which explain the importance of these rituals. Their observance brings great luck and happiness to devotees.
Importance of Deepa
The deepa or diya is lit on all auspicious occasion, festivals even in daily puja. Deepa is lighted in front of deities. In some temples we can also find a akhand deep which is burnt continuously. It is also lighted in educational and social events like inauguration.
It is believed that the oil of the deep symbolizes one’s base instinct (vasana) the wick the ego. So when a deep is illuminated by spiritual knowledge the base instincts get exhausted and the ego slowly perishes. The flame of the deep always burns upward similar to a spiritual knowledge which elevates a person. Thus, lightning a deep symbolises knowledge that eradicates the darkness of ignorance.
What is the purpose of Aarati and how it is performed ?
Aarati is one of the sixteen steps of the puja ritual. It is referred to as the auspicious light. Aarti is performed at the end of every ritualistic puja. It is performed by circling the lighted lamp with the right hand in a clockwise direction before the deity. During aarti devotees sing prayer describing the glory of God, clap their hands, ringing of bells and blowing of conch shell. After aarti devotees place their palm over the holy flame and then touch them over their eyes and head to be blessed by God’s divinity.
Why Coconut is worshipped ?
In early days, animal sacrifice was in practice in yajnas, this symbolizes offering of wealth to Devas. But slowly this practice was discontinued and coconut, which symbolizes life came is used instead.
Coconut is worshipped with the kalash as this symbolises prosperity and auspiciousness. It is also offered into the sacrificial fire during homa ceremony. It is also broken during worship rituals and on occasions like inauguration or opening of new buildings , factories shops etc.
The splitting of a coconut symbolises the shattering of one’s ego. The coconut water represents the base instinct (vasana) which is offered with white kernel ( the mind) to God.
What is pradakshina and why it us done ?
Pradakshina means circumambulation, its a devotional act expressing respect and honour to God’s divine presence. While circumbulating the devotee chant the name of God. This is always performed in a clockwise manner so that the deity is always on one’s right, symbolising auspiciousness.
Why do Hindu offer namaste or namaskar or dandavat pranam ?
Namaste , namaskar or dandavat pranam is a gesture of greeting and respect to God, guru, senior or even a stranger. Namaste means ”I bow to you” It also includes the sentiment of offering prostration and salutation. The Hindus say offer namaste or namaskar by folding their palms together by the and chest and bowing their heads. Bowing of the head symbolises humility and folding of hands means, may our mind meet together.
Dandavat pranam is performed by sitting down on one’s knees with one’s head and hands touching the ground and the mind engage in humble thoughts. Dandavat pranam is performed by lying prostrate on the ground with eight parts of the body touching the floor.
Both the pranams are performed in acknowledgement of their greatness, selfless love, service and sacrifice. In return the guru , parents, seniors, teachers generally place their hands in benediction on the disciple, child or student’s head to allow the free flow of divine vibrations and positive energy.
Why do Hindus observe fast ?
Hindus observe fast on festivals. They fast to please God, control the senses or atone for sins.Fast is observed in various forms like some take only milk, or water or fruit juice, while some fast strictly without taking any food and water at all.
Spiritually, fasting facilitates mental proximity to God by withdrawing the senses from material objects. It also evokes feeling of gratitude and humility for all that God gives and does for our happiness, survival and sustenance. The mind become pure, poised and peaceful. Physically, fasting allows the digestive system to rest for some time and thus improve its efficiency. It also detoxifies the body.
Why do some Hindu deities have animal features?
Some Hindu deities have animal features include Ganesha , Hanuman, Vishn’s avtars like Matsya(fish), Kumra (turtle), Varah (boar), Narasimha (half man half lion) and others. Hindus believe that Paramatma or Bhagwan manifests in human and other forms for the purpose of re-establishing dharma and destroying adharma. God is free to take whichever form he desire for the purpose of fulfilling his mission. This Hindu tradition reverse all the manifestation of Bhagwan and other deities, whether in human or other forms, and believe that they are divine.
In other religions and civilizations Gods with animal features are worshipped, like in Ancient Greek civilizations, they worshipped God Pan, who had hindquaters, legs and horns of a goat. In Egyptian civilization also people worshipped Anubis, Lord of underworld, and Ra (Sun God) who are potrayed as men with falcon heads. In Christianity winged angels are portrayed as half human and half bird.
Today, many of these animal feature deities have lost their prominence and no longer remembered or worshiped. But, in Hinduism Ancient deities are still worshiped , believing them to be divine regardless of them having animal features.