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Kidsworld Club

Worshiping the god

Dear Children, 

To be blessed by the God and to receive his grace to lead a peaceful, happy life, what should we do? 

We have to approach the god with full confidence and believe and we should worship with full love and devotion. We have to glorify him. We have to ask him of our needs. The almighty god knows what is good and what is bad for us and he will bless us accordingly. 

When we worship the god our inner mind get purified. The ill thoughts and feelings that may be hiding in our mind will go away and so good thoughts and feelings will settle in. When we praise the almighty god who is the survivor of this whole universe, the sorrow and troubles will get away from us. 

We can worship the god at home and as well as at temple. With purified mind and love we can worship from anywhere. 

Below, you can read both methods of worshiping the god, at home and at temple. We invite you to read them and worship the god accordingly and get his blessing to lead a successful life. 

A Hindu Temple

A Hindu Temple


Dear Children,

You might possibly have already seen distinct kind of temples. From a little temple with a single statue under a banyan tree at the corner of the street or on the bank of a river to large temple having huge Gopura (tower), there are so many kinds we can get across.

Types of Temple

A basic temple under a tree at a river bank

Even in temple architecture you may get to see different types between North India, South India as well as Sri Lanka.

World's Largest Hindu Temple of Lord Vishnu: Ankor Wat, Cambodia

However the essential idea of the temples is to be a bridge between the God and the human being and connect them together.

The Best place to worship

We can worship the God in our mind. We can even worship the image or the idol of the god in our home in whatever way as well as whenever we require.

However it is always superior to worship the God in a temple. There are ssome sayings which are below, that make us grasp the importance of this.

"Do not live in a place where there is actually no existence of a temple"

"Worshiping in a temple is always superior"

The God is omnipresent and there is actually no place without him. The blood of a cow is running all over its body and assists in the production of milk. However this milk is actually obtainable only from the udder of the cow.

Likewise, to receive the grace along with blessings of the God we must go to a temple. Temple is a spiritual place which is actually filled with God’s grace as well as kindness.

The saiva temples are constructed according to the rules of an ancient scripts ‘sivahamam’. This is why all temples that we worship are almost similar to each other.

However, the temples of other sub sects of Hinduism, such as vaishnava temples are slightly different from saiva temples.

A Temple in North Sri Lanka: Nallur, Jaffna

A Temple in North India: Varanasi

Somarnath (Shiva) Temple: Gujarat

Meenadchi Temple, Madurai Tamil Nadu

A structure of a temple is quite similar to the structure of a human body.

Let us now explore the key features of a temple.


The Holy Tower (Gopura)

The tower is simply one of the key features of a temple. It is constructed above the main entrance of the temple and its sky rising structure is actually set in such a way so that it can be simply observed from long distance in any direction.

There can be numerous tiers in a temple tower. Gorgeous carvings of various idols can be observed prominently in this tower. The carvings of deities, human forms, birds, pets, devas, fairies as well as gate keepers (Duwara palakarkal) along with other figures are also mounted magnificently on these tiers of the tower.

The significance of this is to make us understand the fact that all the living beings in this universe are simply converging into the god.

The holy tower of a temple is also known as 'sthoola-lingam'.

There is a place called Tanjavur in Tamil Nadu in South India. Almost 1000 years back, the Chola emperor 'Raaja Raaja Cholan' had built a magnificent temple for Lord Shiva utilizing only granite stones. The tower of this temple is 66 meters long and considered the most high temple tower.

The tower of this most magnificent temple that draws numerous pilgrims from around the entire world owns numerous special features. At the top of the tower, a casket weighing 339.5 kg can be seen mounted. The casket is gold coated having 1902 sovereign.

It is still a surprising aspect to the modern engineers who could not really figure out yet of the tactics by which this heavy casket could possibly have been taken to that height and placed on top of the tower especially when contemporary hardware like cranes were actually not really available 1000 years back.


The holy Chariot

In every temple, we can observe a 'chariot'. It is also called 'ratha' or 'thear'. The chariot is also constructed magnificently and also high enough like the tower. There will be four massive wooden wheels fixed to the chariot.

During the annual temple festival days, the 'chariot festival' that takes place in one of the last few days of the festival is a very popular event. On this 'chariot festival' day, the idol of the main deity of the temple is placed in the central part of the chariot. The devotees pull the chariot in clockwise direction utilizing the two lengthy ropes attached to it. 

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The Idol Mounted in the Chariot Devotees ready to pull the ropes attached 

The devotees believe that by pulling the chariot with the God in it, they are going to be blessed as well as receive the grace of the God in abundance. There are devotees who travel thousands of miles away from other parts of the globe to get hold of the rope and pull the chariot on the 'chariot festival' of their favourite God.

In Tamil Nadu, the 'Chariot Festival' at the Lord Shiva temple at Thiruvaarur, draws more than half a million devotees. Similar amount gather at the 'Chariot Festival' of the Jagannathar temple in Puri, in the state of Orissa in India.

thiruvarur theer c2 0276 nallur chariot festival
Thiruvaarur Chariot Festival Nallur Murugan Chariot Festivel 

The Tree of the Temple (sthala-virudsham)

A tree (sthala-virudsham) can be seen specially grown in every temple. In Lord Shiva temples the 'mango tree' or 'bael tree' (vilva or bilva) can certainly be seen as the sthala-virudsham (tree of the temple).


Devotees go around a temple tree

There is a magnificent temple of Lord Shiva in Kanchipuram of Tamil Nadu, South India. The Lord Shiva, known there as 'Eehampara Eswar' gracing the devotees along with Umadevi (Bharvathi Devi) who is known there as 'Kamadchi'.

According to the 'sthla purana', 'Kamadchi', who was born as an incarnation of Umadevi, worried of being separated from Lord Shiva, observed penance under a mango tree by creating a 'Sivalinga' out of clay in order to get back to him.


The huge mango tree at the renowned 'Sri Ekambara Eswarar temple in Kanchipuram, that branching out in all 4 direction can be seen as the testimony of this. The saiva scholars confirmed that this tree is likely to more than 3000 years old.

The fruits of the tree display four distinct kinds of tastes and so it is believed it represents four ancient Hindu Vedas (scripts).


The Temple Bell

The temple bell is usually seen inside of the temple. It can also be seen in a mini tower. The bells toll when
the pooja begins and additionally when the prime event 'deepa arthy' takes place towards the end of the pooja. The rope added to the bell is pulled by the devotees to make the tolling sound.

This magnificent, pleasant sound will be heard by the people living in all sides of the temple.

Realising that the pooja is about to start, the devotees rush to the temple to worship. The sound is simply thought of as the voice of the God calling upon the devotees to the temple.

The Temple Bell towers stand as the major extraordinary variation between the Hindu temples in Sri Lanka and that of South India where temple bells can be actually observed in a corner of the temple without much prominence.

During the Portuguese colonial period in Sri Lanka, almost all Hindu temples were destroyed and the practice of Hindu religion was actually banned.

Many Catholic churches were built in the meantime with towers for bell.

Many years later when threatened by the British invaders, the Dutch rulers, who substituted the Portuguese, permitted the temples to be rebuilt to have the support of the locals. The rebuilt temples delivered prominence to the bell towers like those of the churches. This practice went on during the British time and also to this day when establishing a new temple.

aathy koneswaram temple trinco c2 0276 a murukan temple bell tower in sl
Temples in East and North Sri Lanka with prominent towers for temple bell

The holy pond

A holy pond can be seen just outside but close to the temple. This is also be called as the ‘pond of theertha’ (pond of holy water).


The pilgrims to the temple bathe or wash their face, hand, legs and feet before entering the temple. For the devotees to reach the water in the pond comfortably there are steps in all four directions.

In some ponds, we can see water plants like lily, lotus etc, the flowers of which are used during the temple poojas.

maduraipond

The renowned 'Gold Lotus Pond' of Madurai Meenadchi Temple with its four towers in the background.

During the annual ‘Festival Days’, the ‘Theeretha Festivel’ (holy water festival) follows the day after ‘Chariot Fetival’day. On this day, the statue of the main God of the temple is taken to the pond and given a dip.


The holy well

A well can be seen inside the temple. This is known as the holy well. The priests as well as the devotees utilize the water from this well for divine purposes such as poojas, abishek, cooking the food items for pirasad and additionally to clean the temple floors etc.

Since it is being used exclusively for the divinely purposes, the water from this well is never used by the
devotees for other purposes such as bathing etc.

Just remember that nonetheless, we are living in an age of tap water and so a temple well might not really be needed unless of course the temple is in a remote village.


The holy garden

There exists usually a garden in a further side of the temple. The backyard garden is simply an essential aspect of a temple. Range of trees bearing fruits and berries and flower trees are grown in this holy garden.

Extremely fragrant flowers like jasmine, rose etc as well as fruits or berries like oranges, banana, lime, mango and jack are obtained from the trees grown there.

The flowers will be used in poojas and also to make beautiful garlands that adorned the god idol. The fruits will be used for ‘abisek’ and also to prepare the ‘pancharmirtha’.


Devotees working in a garden

Thactsanamoorthy and Ganesha statues in the beautiful garden of Iravan Temple, Kauai, Hawai 

Inner circle, outer circle

Having the 'moolasthana' (sanctuary) as the focal point, there are 'inner circle' as well as 'outer circle' that can be observed in a temple.

The inner circle that goes around the sanctuary has an elevated wall on the external edge of it. Beyond the high wall there is one more circle known as outer circle.

While worshipping at the Hindu temple, the devotees walk around clockwise one time or three times (in odd numbers only) in this inner circle, uttering the Lord's name or singing devotional songs praising the Lord of the temple.

The outer circle is simply for the idol of the deity to go round in festival days. The God statues are either carried by the devotees in their shoulders or in a chariot or even in an elephant in this outer circle clockwise.


Idol carried by devotees in their shoulders

In festival time the idols of the Gods and Goddesses are mounted on the elephant and taken in a procession around the temple’s outer circle.


Idol mounted on an Elephant in a parade

Note that some devotees in order to fulfil their wow (see: wow making) might possibly walk round in the inner circle as many time as per their wow while some others might prostrate (pira-thaddai) in the external circle following the God’s procession.


Devotees fulfiling the wow 'Pira-thaddai' (prostate or rooling around)

The city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu is renowned for having the famous 'Meenadchi Temple' as the focal point of an enormous outer circle by which the fantastic city was established.

There is another renowned temple for Lord Shiva in 'Thiruvannamalai'. The temple is at the foot drop of a mountain.

On every full moon day night, the devotees in huge numbers go along in a 14 km prolonged circle.


Deveotees in 'Kirivalam'

They consider the mountain as an enormous 'sivalinga' and going around it is considered as going round Lord Shiva himself. ( This occasion is called ‘Kirivalam’ which means going round the mountain.)


Thiruvannamalai Hill and the Temple

Inner Temple

The front entrance is located just under the tower. Once we go pass this we can see the sanctuary (moolasthana) that facing directly to the main entrance. In the sanctuary, the main deity of the temple can be seen mounted.

The statue of Lord Shiva or Shivalinga can be seen in a Shiva’s temple. In Vishnu’s temple it will be Lord Vishnu and in Murugan temple, it will either be ‘vel’ or the statue of Lord Muruga. Likewise we can see the Lord Ganesh statue in Ganesa temple.

In different part of the temple, idols of Navagraha, Chandewarar, Durga etc can be found. Further there will be ‘saba mandap’(Saba hall), ‘artha mandap’ (Artha Hall) in which various artistic programs like musical, dance and drama events will take place.
There will also be banquet hall in which the devotees will have their religious wedding ceremonies.

Just opposite the sanctuary, the vehicle related to the god is mounted as if staring the idol and the sanctuary. Thus Garuda will be in Maha Vishnu temple and Ox in Lord Shiva temple while Peacock in Lord Muruga’s and also the Mouse in Lord Ganesh temple can be seen.

The Temple Kitchen

The temple kitchen is located in a side of the temple. This is where the food items for offering (‘neivetia’) to the god are prepared. The milk rice, laddu, chick peas, sweet puffed rice are all prepared here.

Domesticated animals, birds in a temple

Some temples rear cows. The milk from them are used for 'abishek' and additionally for preparing the 'pirasad'. In some temples we can observe elephants.

Elephant of a Saiva Temple

Elephant of a Vaishnava Temple

In some Muruga's temple one can observe gorgeous peacocks.

Beautiful Peacocks can be observed in Murugan Temples

Dear Children,

So far we have seen what we can easily see in huge temples in either India or in Sri Lanka. Nonetheless we can't see the most of the items mentioned above in Hindu temples situated in western countries due to shortage of space as well as different other reasons.

Having said that in all temples, however tiny it might simply be, there are going to be a sanctuary with an idol in it.

We shall next see the way to worship in a temple.

Worshipping at a Hindu Temple

Worshipping at Temple

Dear Girls and Boys,

There are many way to worship the God.

Here we are going to see the ways of worshipping the God in a Temple.

After reading these your next Temple visit will be more meaningful.

Worshipping the God in a Temple

Dear Children,

The almighty God has created us and this wider universe and also the stars like sun, moon and various other planets.

The great God is organizing actions and movements of all in such a way that all are in perfect order.

The God also protects and also destroys all.

The God is omnipresent.

There is no place without him and he is inside every living being as well as outside of all such creations.

He is also observing all our words, thoughts and deeds.

Worshipping the God

Shouldn’t we, thus worship this omnipresent God, who shower us with immense grace?

But the question is how and where to worship him?

We can worship the God anywhere, at home, at a temple or in the middle of a forest or while travelling or when in danger or in happiness or even while preparing or doing our school exams. We can think or meditate of him in our mind and pray with pure love. We can also set up a shrine room in our home and worship him there.

However, going to a temple and worshiping the God along with other devotees brings in lot of advantages. Can I tell you an example of this?

Solar + Cotton lint = Fire?

We all know that the solar energy is very powerful and it is giving us both light as well as heat energy. However if you leave a piece of lint outside exposing it to the glowing sun it would not catch fire. Would it? Even if you leave it long, the lint would not catch fire at all.

But if you hold a lens just above that cotton lint, what do you think would happen?

The sunlight that accumulates at the focal point of the lens will make the cotton lint to ignite.

Temples, the Spiritual Centers

The Temples are also doing the job of the lenses. They act as the spiritual centres that accumulate the omnipresent god’s

immeasurable grace and present them to us.

There are so many worshippers coming to a temple and worshiping the God with pure inner love. When all of them pray together and glorify the God with devotion, the power and grace of the God will be revealed in abundance.

We have studied earlier about the structure of a Temple.

Now it is time to learn about the procedures that we must follow to visit a temple and also how to worship the God in a Temple.

Shall we go into those details now?

Days to go to the temple

Worshiping the God at a temple everyday is ideal but it is not always practically possible. We have to do various jobs on daily basis. Children must go to school.

Adults need to go to work. Mothers should go to work too and if not there will be plenty of work for her at home, cooking, child care, washing, cleaning etc. Therefore, it is not always possible to go to the temple every day.

So, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday of the week and special days like “Pirathosam”, Full Moon day, No Moon day, New Year day, First day of the new month, Solar eclipses, Lunar eclipses, “Shivratri”,” Navaratri”, “Ganesh Chaturthi,” “Kantha shasti “days, “Thaipoosam”, “Diwali “etc are the days when we must try our best to go and worship God at the temple. In addition, on our birth day, it is better to go to the temple to seek the blessings of the God.

The mornings and the evenings are the special moments to go to the temple.

Things to do before you go to the temple


Temple is a place filled with grace and power of the great God. The God is an embodiment of pure love and grace and the temple is holy place and therefore when we go to worship him, we must clean ourselves by taking a shower.

It is not enough to clean our body but also we must fill our mind with pure thoughts as well.

Then, we must wear clean clothes and in the forehead we must apply, ‘thiru-neeru’ (if Saivas) or ‘thiru-mann’ (if Vaishnavas). When you place ‘thiru-neeru’ or ‘thiru-mann’, you must close your eyes and utter the name of the God with devotion.

If it is Lord Shiva, you would say ‘Ohm, Namashivaya’ and if it is Lord Vishnu, you would say ‘Ohm Namo Narayana’ and likewise you would say other deity’s name too.

Things to take as offerings

When we go to the temple it is not advisable to go empty-handed. There is a maxim that when you visit children and the seniors, you should not go empty-handed and so when we visiting the God who is greatest of all, we must take some items to offer him.

Milk, coconut water, coconut, flowers, flower garland, fruits, betel leaves, betel, camphor, incense sticks, honey, ghee, yogurt can all be taken as offerings to a temple. You can also take some clothing such as silk that can be adorned to the idol. Of these, coconut, fruits, betel leaves and betel must be tidied up and washed well and neatly arranged in a clean tray or basket with other products.

You must not carry the tray or basket below the waist level. Carrying it using both hands at the chest level is the ideal way.

It is true that not everyone can take all of these offerings to the God. It is okay to take just one flower or a small packet of camphor with you. The God will accept them with love and bless us.

Some devotees offer rice, vegetables and other items to the temple kitchen so that the people can have ‘pirasath’ after the poojas.

On special festival days like Thaiponkal, Diwali etc, along with usual offerings we can also take carefully prepared food items like Pongkal (milk rice), puffed rice, chickpeas, vadai, motakam etc with us for ‘Neivethiya’. Once the pooja is finished, we can share them as ‘pirasath’ with other devotees.

Things to do outside the Temple

When we approach the temple and when the temple tower known as “gopura” (sthoola-lingham) appear in our sight we should lift both arms above our head and joining the palms together worship it while uttering the name of the God.

If there is a holy pond, well or water fountain made available to us then we should wash our feet, hands etc well before entering the temple so that we will not be taking any dirt inside. Foot wears like shoes, sandals must be removed and left outside in the place provided, before entering.

Inside the Temple

As we pass the main entrance at the bottom of the “gopura” (sthoola-lingham) and enter the temple, the ‘kodimaram’ (meaning: Pillar of flag or Flag Pole) (also known as tuvaja-stampam), ‘palipeedam’ (means: stage of sacrifice), ‘deepaa-sthampam’ (means: pillar carrying the lamp) and the vehicle can be seen in a row just in front of the ‘karphpak-kiraha’ (main shrine (sanctuary) or moolasthanam) and the saba mandaba (Hall).

As if waiting for the order of the master, the vehicle of the God or goddess of the main shrine will be seen looking straight to the moolasthanam (main shrine).

Ox known as ‘Nandi Devar’ can be seen as the vehicle of Lord Shiva's temple, and the peacock as
the vehicle at Lord Muruga’s temple, Garuda (eagle) can be seen as the vehicle at the Lord Vishnu temple, in Goddess Durga (sakthi) temple lion can be seen as the vehicle while mouse can be seen as the vehicle at Ganesha temple….

We have seen earlier that there will be a ‘palipeedam’ (stage of sacrifice) at the temple. You may wonder the relevancy of it at a Hindu temple.

 

 

First of all we must bow (namaskar) before the ‘palipeedam’ and in doing so we will also be sacrificing our prides, proud, prejudices, lofty, arrogance, ill feelings and all kinds of improper desires etc.

When we do this it will be easier for us to worship the God with pure devotion and love and the God also will bless us.

How to namaskar (Bow) at a Temple?

There are some rules for bowing (namaskar) at a temple and we shall now learn them next.

If the deity in the temple’s main shrine facing towards to the eastern or western direction, we should bow keeping our head towards north direction and if the deity is facing towards southern or northern direction then we should make sure that our head is facing towards east direction while bowing.

We should never bow keeping our legs towards eastern or northern directions.

Bowing guidance for men (Atta-angka Namaskar)

Men must do atta-angka namaskar. Atta means eight and angha means parts of the body. Hence atta-angha means, the bowing should involve eight body parts for men. Head, two arms, two ears, jaw and both shoulders should touch the ground and that is known as atta-angka namaskar.

Toppling or throwing the body to the ground slowly and keep it as if lying face down to the ground (prostrate), first let the head touches the ground followed by the chest. While the body is resting on the chest, extend the right hand parallel to the head, followed by the left hand.

Then retreat both hands and keep them next to the hip, thus making both shoulders also touch the ground. Then right ear should touch the ground followed by the left ear.

This procedure is known as atta-angka namaskar for men.


Bowing guidance for women (Pancha-angka Namaskar)

Women must do pancha-angka namaskar. Pancha means five. Head, two hands and both knees (to the toes) should touch the ground is known as pancha-angka namaskar.


The rules for going around in Temple

After namaskar, we must revolve around the sanctuary with devotion and veneration. The revolving must be in clock wise direction and at least three times and while doing so we should utter God's name, sing devotional songs in praise of God, devotional mantras, psalm etc.


Praying to God in the main shrine (sanctuary)

Before we worship God of the moolasthanam (sanctuary) of the temple, as if asking permission to walk pass them to go towards the main shrine we must worship ‘Duvara – palakarkal’ (the statues of guards) first and then the vehicle of the God next.

We should then pray Lord Ganesh (if he is not the main deity of the temple) and ask for forgiveness in case if we do any wrong or mistake inadvertently.

The ways to worship Lord Ganesh

When we worship Lord Ganesh, first both of our fists should knock three times in both ends of the forehead.

Then crossing both hands across the chest, holding the right ear with the left hand and left ear with the right hand we should knee-bend at least three times as we pray the Lord.

Remember that these ways are exclusive to Lord Ganesh only.

Worshiping the deity at the sanctuary

Now it is the time for us to proceed to worship the deity at the moolasthanam (sanctuary).

We have to handover the tray or the basket with the pooja and offering items to the priest who would be there to conduct the pooja service.

When the pooja is taking place, we should stand watching it with devotion and reverence while uttering the name of the Lord.

As the priest shows the deepa (the camphor or ghee flame) known as ‘arthy’ to the deity, our hands should be raised above the head and palms should join together, we should pray reciting the holy name of the Lord.

When the priest brings out the lamp with burning camphor, we should pass our hands over it three times and each times touch the eyes with the palms.

Once the pooja is completed, the priest will give divine prasadams like ‘thiruneeru’, ‘sandal paste’ and if Durga temple, kumkumam (kum-kum).

We should receive it by keeping the right palm on top of the left palm and once we receive it, it should then be transferred to the left palm and using the right hand fingers we should apply them to the forehead.

After this the priest will distribute the ‘theertham’ which we should receive in our right hand palm and drink it.

You may now ask the priest to do an ‘archana’ in your name, your family members name or even in the God's name. The priest will ask for your name and star to conduct this.

It is a good practice to offer the priest some gifts known as ‘dhahna’ either as money or as other items. Remember you should not give/place money in the palm of the priest as they are not supposed to receive it in their hand and so you should leave it in the tray that he may hold in his hand.

If you have to give some money to a priest as ‘dhahna’, just in case if he visited your home for a pooja service, it will be a good practice to wrap it in betel leave/s (in odd numbers) or at least in an envelope to pass it over.

Worshiping other deities in the temple

After finishing the ‘archana’, go around the inner circle and worship other deities such as “Tatcinamurtti”, “Somaskantar”, “Chandrasekarar”, “Lingothpavar” “Subramaniyar” and Goddess” Durga” etc. Some other deities may be there and if this is the case we should worship them too.

Finally we should worship ‘sandeswarar’ and remember we should not go round him. Once we worship him we have to clap our hands softly and that mark the end of our worshipping.

Once we finishes off with ‘sandeswarer’ we should return back to ‘palipeeda’ (stage of sacrifice) and stand there and looking at the sanctuary of the temple to bow again to thank the god for the blessing. Once we finish this we should get back to a quiet place or corner and sit there peacefully and meditate by bringing the God's image in our mind. Also we can sing devotional song softly.

Once we finish off with these, we can go to the place where temple ‘prasadams’ such as food items, are distributed to get some.

It may then be time for us to return home.

So far, we have seen the way to worship in a temple. We shall now look into what we should and should not do in a temple.


Activities that we should not do in the Temple

Temple is a holy place of peace and spirituality. It is not a place for playing. We should not run around here and there in play mode, talking, laughing, and calling others loudly by their name, disturbing others who are in the process of worshipping, spitting, arguing, shouting etc should be avoided.

We should not also sit in a manner by which our backside faces the God. Sleeping, dosing out should also be avoided inside of a temple.

At pooja time when we stand, we should worship in peace while ensuring we are not blocking the view of the other devotees by tilting our head or by leaning our body forward.

Pujas at Temples


Pooja Times and Frequency

Poojas at temple are conducted as per the ‘aakama’ rules. As per this rules, poojas should be conducted six times daily. However, depending on a temple resources, some temple conduct poojas three times (morning, afternoon, evening) a day while some will have just once a day.

When the pooja time nears, the temple bell will be rung out to alert the devotees in the neighborhood so that they will rush to the temple to view the pooja and to worship.

Abishek

First the idol at the sanctuary will be showered, which is known as ‘abishek’, with water, coconut water, rose water, milk, yogurt, honey and ‘panchamirtha’ (mixture of five different fruit with honey).

Finally the idol will be showered again with water to clean all.

Decoration

Then the curtain will be pulled across so that the priests can be decorating the idol with cloths, flowers, flower garland and also adorn with ornaments and various other items.

Arthy

Once this is completed, the curtain will be drawn back and the priest will do an ‘arthy’ (deepa of ghee or camphor) and at this time the devotees will raise their hands above their head and also joining their palms, worship while uttering the name of the god.

There is a beautiful philosophy of ‘deepa arthy’. First the priests will start off with ‘arthy’ that have many layers of ‘ghee lamps’. Then in the following ‘arthis’, number of ‘ghee lamps’ will go down and finally an ‘arthy’ with only one deepa or ‘flame’ will be shown in poojas.

‘Even the God is in many different forms, the almighty God is one and only’ is the philosophical message that is being explained by this ‘deepa arthy’ method.

At the world famous “Chitambaram Nadaraja” temple in Tamil Nadu, South India, ‘deepa arthy’ will be conducted very magnificently.

If we burn wood, paper, textiles etc we will be able to see ashes at the end. But if we burn camphor nothing will be left as all will evaporate. Likewise we also should surrender ourselves fully and wholly to the God so that all our ignorance, arrogance and inner darkness will evaporate is the philosophical message given to us by ‘camphor arthy’.

After the arthy (camphor or ghee) the tray with the arthy (or the arthy itself) will be brought out by the priest. As explained earlier, we should pass our palms over it three times and each time the palms should touch our face while the fingers over our eyes. When we do this we should pray to God, ‘asking to remove our inner darkness’.

I want to share with you of another theory that is there on ‘deepa arthy’. ‘Deepa darshan’ is purifying our mind. The darkness that could be in our mind like fear, hatred, jealousy, inferiority complex, anger, fatigue will all be cleared when we see the deepa arthy darshan.

Pirasad

After the arthy, the priest will distribute ‘thiruneeru’ (vipoothy), ‘sandal paste’, and ‘kumkum’ and if Vaishnava temples, then Thulasi Theertham’. We have to receive it by keeping the right palm on top of the left palm and immediately transfer that to the left palm. Then using the middle fingers we should apply thiruneeru to the forehead.

When we apply ‘thiruneeru’ our head should be raised as if we are staring the sky and utter the name of the god.

Sandle paste and kumkum must be taken by the ring finger and apply between the eyebrows.

...and the Home Time

When we return home, after the worshiping and praying at the temple with pure love and devotion to almighty the God, we will feel happiness and our mind will be filled with some sort of sweet ecstasy.

This will also give us the spiritual power to do all our duties perfectly. The grace of the God will be with us for all our efforts to be successful.

We wish you to be successful in your studies by the grace of God and to have such peace and full of divinely joy all the way through.

 

Worshiping god at home

Worshiping god at home

Dear kids,

The god is omnipresent and there is no place without him.

We are going to see here the ways of worshipping the God at home and after reading this section, we hope, you will pray at home every day.

Worshipping the God at a prayer room in our home

The temple is the place where the devotees can get together and worship. The god's presence and grace are full at the temple.

However it may not always possible to go to a temple. A devotee may wish to pray in quietness but there may be a special pooja or festival at the temple that draw many that deprive the quietness.

Also there may be some 'religious reasons' such as certain 'unholy period' (number of days depending on family tradition) after a birth or a death in the family, during which one can't go a temple which is a holy place. (to remove the ‘unholiness’ a priest will be called home at the end of the said period to do a pooja).

Therefore we go to temple on special days, festival etc and all other time we can pray at home. There are some disciplinary procedures that we should follow when we worship the god at home.

Remember that we can go to a beach, river bank, park, garden and bringing the god image in our mind, worship peacefully.

Some procedures to follow

There are some procedures that we should follow when we worship the god at home. This we normally do when we move to a new home.

Shrine Room

We can set up a 'shrine room' in our home and in which we can have the statues of the gods that carved out of wood or some other material but not granite stone which can only be at temple. Some people have a shelf and it which they have pictures. In some homes the god pictures may be seen as wall hangings in the shrine room. There is no hard and fast rule and all depend on our convenience.


A small shrine room at home

However we must have some common sense when we set this up. For example, it may not be a good idea to set up a 'shrine room' close to a kitchen where non veg items are cooked. It is not an acceptable practice to worship the god after a non-veg meal. In such case one must wait until the next day to take a bath to clean themselves before worshiping.

Idols and Images in the Shrine room

The idols or the pictures of god in the shrine room should be facing the eastern direction wherever possible. And the devotees will be facing the northern direction when praying. This means that we will not be directly facing the god. Remember we are asking the god for his blessing and grace and so we are not confronting but standing or sitting politely in sideways.

There is an interesting question often raised by devotees to holy men, priest and elders as to which god's idol or picture is best to have and worshipped at home. It is depending on some factors. The choice may be from the family tradition of the male or female partner of the house hold or it may be a personal choice and circumstances.

The god has different form and qualities and we choose whom to worship in a given circumstances. A businessman stating a new venture will worship Lord Ganesh to remove all the obstacles and to become successful and then he will also worship goddesses Luxmi for the business to turn over well and to give him high profit. The children at home will worship goddesses Saraswathy who will bless them with education. However the Luxmi Devi and Saraswathi Devi are the different form of the same.

In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna (Avatar of Lord Vishnu) says that if we worship genuinely and with love in abundance for a particular god, the great Lord will appear in that form and grace us.

Deepa lamp

There must be a small lamp in the shrine room that can be filled with ghee (liquid butter) or sesame oil or any vegetable oil. A cotton wicks must be used to light the lamp. The light coming out of the lamp is called 'deepa'  which must face the eastern direction. Care must be taken to place the lamp in such a way that the shadow of the lamp should not fall on the picture images or idols.

An oil deepa lamp better known as 'kutthu vizhkku'

Pooja and Prayer Time

Since it is our home we can offer prayer any time when we feel so.

Poojas can be conducted both morning and evening. If there is no time for both then poojas can be conducted in the morning with pure water and in the evening just light the lamp and offer a prayer. Again there is no hard and fast rule on this. Some people take couple of minutes for prayers yet some others take long. It is again depending on personal choice and family tradition.

Clean and holiness of the Shirine Room

Pooja room (shrine room) should always be clean and holy. It can be sprinkled with yellow water (turmeric power dissolved water) to ensure its holiness. Also obey your family rules when it come to maintain the holiness and for these elders in your family would help.

Special Pooja Days

In the morning, one should have a bath to clean themselves and applying 'Thiru-neeru' or 'Thiru-Mann', they should clean the pooja room. Lighting the deepa lamp, they should adorn the idol or image with cloths, sandle paste, garland made of garden flowers.

Incense sticks can be ignited and benzoin incense fume can also be raised to spread in the room. As an offering (nivetiaya) to the god; candy, milk rice, grapes, banana, chick peas, basil leaf (Maha Vishnu) and beal leaf (lord Shiva) can be placed in front of the god.

We complete our pooja and worship with chanting of mantras followed with the devotional songs with reverance.

Note: Benzoin Incense is also known as Sambrani Powder which always sprinkled on glowing red charcoal. The fume that comes out exude the plesent aroma and it slowly spread all across the room.

A pooja is offered at home

Intimate Relationship

Just imagine a situation where you are sitting in your prayer (shrine) room. Your eyes are shut and a beautiful devotional song is on in the background and you are on your own with your favourite God's image or idol in front of you. The room is lighted only by the deepa lamp. You talk to your God, you pray, you smile and or sob. You are asking for guidance or pray for something. May be you are thanking the God for answering your prayer.

It is a bliss and you will definitely cherish.

It is the intimate relationship you have with your God and that will give you inner strenth for you to suceed in any task. And for these reasons we encourage you to have a habit of praying at home everyday.

 

 

God Bless You All