What is Puja

Puja is the act of showing reverence to a god, a spirit, or another aspect of the divine through invocations, prayers , songs, and rituals. An essential part of puja for the Hindu devotee is making a spiritual connection w ith the divine. Most often that contact is facilitated through an object, an element of nature, a sculpture, a vessel, a painting, or a picture.

During puja an image or other symbol of the god serves as a means of gaining access to the divine. This icon is not the deity itself; rather, it is believed to be filled with the deity’s cosmic energy. It is a focal point for honoring and communicating with the god. For the devout Hindu, the icon’s artistic merit is important, but is secondary to its spiritual content. The objects are created as receptacles for spiritual energy that allow the devotee to experience direct communication with his or her gods.

How to Setup:

A vedi should be made that is approximately 4 inches above the ground. An average size is about 18 inches X 36 inches. Cover top with aluminum foil. *Note: The same size vedi can be made and filled with soil.

  1. Fill kalsa with water up to the neck and place 5 mango leaves inside. Keep leaves on one branch if possible.
  2. Wash some rice and place it on a parai (saucer) and place a diya (with ghee and a wick) on top. A coconut and be broken in half (filled with ghee and a wick) and be substituted for the parai.
  3. Fill a lota (2 is better) with water and place a spoon inside for the pandit to use for puja. If you have two lotas filled with water, then one is for the shrota and the other is for the pandit.
  4. Make panchamrit and fill in another lota with a spoon. Panchamrit consists of five items. These five are 1) Milk 2) a drop of melted ghee 3) Sugar 4) Honey and 5) Tilsi
  5. Take cotton balls or the 1X1 pieces of cotton cloth and place near the pandit.
  6. Take the chandan, hardi (saffron) and saindur and place in three diyas or small containers of similar sizes. This should be place ion the western side of the vedi.
  7. Take washed rice, sugar, mohanbhog (prasad), fruits (cut up), clove mixed with elai-chi and crushed camphor and place in small containers the size of a cereal bowl. Most people use the white foam cereal bowl. However, a tray with different section may also be used. I normally do not like to place these in a thali (taari) since everything gets mixed up. I like to keep them separate since it is neater and more organized.
  8. Place honey bottle next to the pandit.
  9. Take the kacha-sutra and atar and place on top on the container with rice.
  10. Place mango leaves, paan leaves and dhubha grass in a thali or tray like container. An aluminum pan (9X12) can also be used.
  11. Place tulsi plant next to pandit. If you only have tulsi leaves, then place in same container with mango leaves.
  12. Flowers are broken off their stems and also place in a thali or tray like container.
  13. Coins should also be placed in a small container and placed on western end of the vedi.
  14. Place incense next to the pandit
  15. Prepare a thali with a diya filled with ghee and a wick for aarati. Place some flowers in the thali.
  16. Take the havan kunda and cover the inside with aluminum foil and place on the northern side of the vedi (this is opposite the pandit).
  17. Place a cotton ball (made into a standing wick and covered with ghee) in the middle of kunda. Dhoop can be used, however, it causes a lot of smoke inside the house. Once havan is completed, the kunda can be taken outside and dhoop can be place inside to burn the contents.
  18. Place melted cow ghee in a bowl like container with a metal spoon for havan. Place next to the kunda.
  19. Take three pieces of dhoop and place in container of ghee used for havan.
  20. Take samagri and place in a thali. When haven is performed, prasaad is mixed with samaagri.
  21. A murti of the main deity should be placed on the vedi. In this case a Hanuman murti. A Ganesh, Durga and Lakshmi murti can also be place on the vedi since puja is also done for them. The murtis are placed on the eastern end of the vedi facing west.
  22. Prasadam should be prepared to offer to the main deity (deities) worshiped.
  23. A flag is offerd with the prasadam and a gift. The gift is usually a piece of clothing which is then given to the pandit. *Note: Offer something the pandit can use or wear.
  24. We should all know that the pandit sits and faces towards the north, and the shrota sits and faces east.

Puja Procedure:

This ceremony involves welcoming the deity and dedicating to them a series of offerings in a particular order.

These include:

Aasanam Samarpayami (Offer a seat)
Paadyam Samarpayami (Offer water to wash the feet)
Arghyam Samarpayami (Offer water to wash the hands)
Aachamaniyam Samarpayami (Offer water to drink)
Panchamritam Samarpayami (Give bath)
Snaanam Samarpayami (Give bath)
Vasthram Samarpayami (Offer clothes)
Yajnopavitham Samarpayami (Offer the Holy Thread)
Gandham Samarpayami (Offer sandlewood paste/powder)
Akshatham Samarpayami (Offer Akshatha (rice)
Pushpam Samarpayami (Offer flowers)
Naivedyam Samarpayami (Offer food)
Phalam Samarpayami (Offer fruit(s))
Taambulam Samarpayami (Offer betel nut and leaves)
Dhoopam Samarpayami (Offer fragrance)
Deepam Samarpayami(Offer light)

Water: Washing of the feet, Washing the hands and water to drink
Milk: A Spiritual Bath
Water: To Cleanse the body
Cotton: Symbolizes Clothing
Janeo: Reminds man of the Three Qualities (Satvik, Rajasik and Tamasik)
Chandan, Hardi & Saindur: Decoration / Make-up
Rice: The offering of Grains
Atar: Perfume
Prasadam: Sugar, Mohanbhoga, Sweet-rice (Khira), Fruits etc. represents Satvik food items
Cloves: Considered as a after drink
Coins: Money
Aarati: Self-realization with God (five elements), showing of respect, a reminder to others of the oneness with God