Worship at home and in the temple

Puja (worship) which includes arti (light offering) is a core part of Hindu worship in both home and temple. Puja at home is performed by the individual worshipper or family group, usually daily, whereas in temples priests tend to officiate. In a domestic setting it can be very simple with modest offerings made at a small shrine whereas ceremonies conducted in temples will be more complex especially during the celebration of festivals. Murtis (images) are bathed, dressed in fresh outfits, anointed and garlanded before offerings are made to them in a multi-sensory ritual. At their most basic, these offerings are water, incense, food (possibly a piece of fruit or sweets) as well as light and prayers. Arti is the culmination and conclusion of puja in which a tray bearing (normally) a lamp with five lights symbolising the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, ether) is circled in the auspicious clockwise direction before each murti in turn. During this process, mantras are chanted and prayers recited. A popular hymn that is sung in many British temples is ‘Om Jai Jagdish Hare’, to the accompaniment of a bell being rung and/or the blowing of a conch. Once the deities have been offered the light, worshippers pass their hands over the flames on the arti tray, bringing their hands towards their heads so as to share in the blessings bestowed by the deities. Following this, worshippers may also receive a tilak (mark) of coloured paste on their foreheads between their eyebrows and/or prashad (grace) in the form of a small portion of the offerings made to and now sanctified by the deities. Visitors to temples, including student groups, may be invited to pass their hands over the arti tray to share in the blessing, and given prashad.

Download the entire essay here

Hindu Worldview Traditions


649.4 KB

Download resource