Unknown, untold facts about religious rituals
There are many things which we do without questioning, why? Because we have seen others doing it. This becomes a practice or rather a rule. Probably, we are scared that if these things are not performed as it is always done we may face something wrong or we do not care at all. Every little act though done as a practice has a special significance and it has a purpose, although we are unaware of this. Here, I would like to share about the significance of few rituals which are practiced on daily basis without knowing its importance.
1. What is the significance in blowing the conch shell ?
Conch shell is often blown during puja, aarti or in mandir. This is done basically to drown all other disturbances and thought and to elevate the mind to a prayerful mood. In ancient times it was blown before a battle field began or to proclaim victory in war. Lord Vishnu always holds conch in one of his four hands, symbolizing dharma or righteousness.
2. Why mala (garland of beads) is used for chanting Gods name ?
We often use mala to do japa. Mala is generally made of tulsi, rudraksha, and bilva. A mala has 108 beads with a large bead called sumeru at its centre. Mala is placed on the second finger of the right hand and beads are turned in clockwise direction with the thumb. While chanting one should not cross the sumeru but reverse the direction to resume chanting.
Mala is used to allow one to focus one’s thought on God. The Practice of chanting God’s name is Sadhna which calms and purifies the mind from agitation and worldly thoughts.
3. Why holy ash is applied on forehead ?
Holy ash or bhasma is the ash of wood , ghee, grains and herbs offered in Yajna(sacred fire). It is applied on forehead as a round mark (chandraka) or tripundra (three horizontal lines) and some rub it all over their body. This is done to purify the body and protect from ill health. It is believed that this helps to destroy evil,consolidate one’s spirit of renunciation,and inspire mental awareness of God.
4. why is Kalash worshipped in puja rituals?
Kalash is considered auspicious. It is generally a brass, bronze or copper pot filled with water some mango leaves or aam pallava (leaves of Mango tree) are placed in the pot then a coconut is placed on the top. A red and white thread is tied on the neck.
Such kalash is placed on all important occasions before the image of God. During Churning of Ocean Lord Dhanvantaritw appeared with a kalash of amruta. The Kalash symbolizes immortality and divinity.
Also, through chanting of mantras the water of all holy rivers , the knowledge of all vedas and the blessings of all deities are invoked in kalash, and thereafter the holy water is used for performing rituals and sprinkling upon devotees.
5. Why is bell rung in mandir (temples) and also during worship rituals ?
Ringing a bell produces an auspicious sound. By doing so before darshan of a deity, it makes the mind and heart auspicious and holy. Also, during aarti the bell, drum and conch are sounded to drown other worldly disturbances, calm one’s thought and to facilitate one’s senses and mind to focus on God.
6. Why we offer food to deity before eating ?
God is supreme, the creator and sustain-er of all life. Whichever seed we sow, cultivate and finally harvest are because of his blessing and grace. So, out of gratitude and devotion to God’s we offer a vegetarian meal to him twice daily, once in the morning and then another in the evening. After the food is graced by him it becomes prasada. The prasada when eaten with gratitude purifies the mind and senses.
7. After saying a prayer, why is shanti chanted thrice ?
Shanti means peace. Generally after saying prayer one says Om Shantihi, Shantihi,Shantihi. Shanti is said thrice to express an intense desire for peace and to be liberated from misery and obstacles.
The devotee pray to God to free from such problems or obstacles in their daily work or special task. The word Shanti is chanted thrice, The first addresses the unseen forces of devas, the second Shantihi is chanted softer and derected towards man and the surrounding circumstances. The final Shantihi is chanted the most softly as it is addressed directly to one’s own mind.