Hindus offer a puja, or worship, ceremony every day in the home, typically early in the morning. There’s no set program to follow, and rites can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like.
Step 1: Avoid eating an hour before puja Avoid consuming food for at least an hour before the puja.
Step 2: Prepare items Prepare items for the puja, which can vary depending on the deities worshipped and individual choice. These can include sacred water or milk; uncooked rice mixed with turmeric; fresh stem-less blooms or loose flower petals; and sacraments of one’s tradition such as red powder, sandalwood paste, or holy ash.
Step 3: Place items in pots & on tray Place the items you are using in the small bronze or silver pots, and then place the pots on the large metal tray.
Step 4: Bathe & put on clean clothes Bathe and put on clean clothes before entering the shrine to maintain the space’s sanctity.
TIP: During their menstrual cycles, women customarily don’t partake in a puja.
Step 5: Enter shrine with family Enter the shrine with your family.
TIP: The holiest time for puja is considered to be just before sunrise.
Step 6: Light lamps with ghee Use ghee to light the standing and smaller lamps. The standing one usually stays on all day.
Step 7: Light incense Light incense with a burner or matchstick.
Step 8: Express devotion to murti Express your devotion to the murti of your selected deity or deities. The images allow direct communication between participants and the deities.
TIP: Hindus do not worship the murti themselves; they worship God, who is present in the images.
Step 9: Bathe murti Place the murti in a deep tray and bathe them with sacred water or milk.
TIP: Sacred water and milk can be found in stores specializing in Hindu worship items.
Step 10: Remove tray Remove the tray used to catch the sacred water or milk.
Step 11: Dry & dress murti Dry the murti and dress them in colorful clothing.
Step 12: Recite prayers & passages Recite prayers and passages from scriptures such as the Vedas.
Step 13: Smear powder, paste, or ash If you are using them, smear powder, paste, or ash on the murti. The puja leader can also smear these on devotees’ foreheads as blessings.
Step 14: Make other offerings Make other offerings, such as rice, fruit, or flowers. Distribute food and flowers to devotees.
Step 15: Play a song Play a song for the deities. This could be a popular recording of a hymn, known as bhajan, or a family member can sing. It all depends on the type of puja.
Step 16: End with aarti End the puja with aarti. Wave the lamps or a tray of lamps in front of the murti in a circular, clockwise motion to represent the cyclical nature of creation. Aarti is often accompanied by the ringing of bells.
FACT: During a 'car puja,' new wheels are blessed.