Our religion and culture is a diverse system of belief that ties together our spirituality and our values. It is special and is a source of peace and prosperity. Puja is an important part of Hinduism that’s been present for a long time. Therefore, Puja is indicative of our beliefs and what they represent in our life.
Puja refers to offering prayers or worship, notably of the sacred image. According to Adi Purana, there are six parts of worship - association with sacred, invitation, installation, worship, and immersion. Each ritual has its specific rules and can differ accordingly. Usually, devotees can do Puja alone. However, some rituals require priests since the rituals and hymns can vary. A Puja can be performed for a particular announced intention or simply as an act of devotion. The Puja done in temples is often more detailed, especially during festivals like Mahashivratri, Durga Puja, etc. There are variations with different locations.
Importance of Puja
As you practice Puja, you purify your body, mind, and intellect and start a new beginning. So, if you find you need to repair your inner self and start anew, a Puja alone will help you get there. By praying for 15-20 minutes daily, a person starts connecting with his inner peace and gradually troubles come to an end. Prayer develops positive energy in the mind and the body becomes healthy.
When doing a Puja your body, mind, and consciousness are all united and centered on one thing. We recite the deity's name with complete admiration and respect. It’s a perfect way to discipline yourself and make your mind focused. If one is filled with stressful emotions, burdened with pressure or difficulties, or actually cannot understand which direction to transform, then a Puja will aid in calming the mind and finding a path that was previously blocked. Your negativity will have a serious effect on your house and your loved ones too. So not only does a Puja benefit you but also your surroundings.
Daily Puja Time
Veda recommends doing puja five times a day. The first one is the early morning at 4:30 AM in the Brahmi muhurtham, followed by puja at 9 AM and then a Mid-day puja at 12:00 PM. After which you have to let the deity relax. Later, perform Sandhya puja again in the evening between 4:30 PM and 6:00 PM. At last, we have Shayana puja at 9:00 PM to bring God to sleep. Since the current lifestyle does not encourage one to do the same, it is advisable to do pooja at least twice a day, one in the morning and then again in the evening.
Brahma Muhurta is ideal for Sandhya Vandan, Meditation, Prayer, and Study. According to Vedas, the Brahma Muhutahm is dawn right before sunrise. Therefore, this time can differ from different locations and seasons. Similarly, Sandhya Puja is before sunset. Prayer, Meditation, Kirtan, Yajna, and Aarti are five parts of this Puja. A devotee follows it by themselves or at the temple.
How to Perform Daily Puja
As per the Vedic scriptures, performing the regular pooja in the morning hours benefits the individual. The morning's quiet hours help maintain concentration and build a clear mind, increasing the person's aura. The next query in line is, how can one complete the morning puja?
First, take a bath. Wear clean cotton clothes before you do your pooja. To gain concentration, with your preferred god in mind, sit facing east or north to meditate. Wash the puja room and light lamps(Diya). Start with the reciting hymns for Lord Ganesa. Say shlokas that refer to your house deity. Make sure you clean the deity.
You can recite the mantra while offering flowers. Light the dhoops sticks and spread the vapors throughout the house. Based on how much time you have, you can continue reading the shlokas. Give naivedyam(नैवेद्यम) to God - it may be fruit, honey, or something you feel like offering to God. Perform aarti when reciting similar verses.
For Evening Puja, it should be done after the sunsets and before dark. Light lamps( Diya) in the evening. You can use either ghee or oil. One should never play conch or bells in the evening worship. In this time the Gods and Goddesses go to sleep. Flowers etc. need not be broken in the evening. For worshipping, either collect them first or it would be best not to include them in this time of worship. The place of worship should be veiled in the night so that there is no disturbance while God is sleeping. Once you shut the Puja place, open it at dawn.
Some of the common items used in Puja are:
- Lamp oil
- Cotton wicks for the lamps
- Japa mala
- Mat to sit on while performing puja
- Puja utensils
- Flowers and a flower bowl to hold them
- Dhoop sticks and a stand to put them.
- Aarti puja Diya or spoons to perform aarti
Things not to do while performing Puja
Negative thoughts, debate, conversation, sleep, food, travel, any kind of noise, etc.
should be avoided. The Puja is made to lighten our mood and create a positive outlook on our lives. The same goes for one’s physical appearance. Sitting for Puja in dirty attire with unhygienic is not allowed. Make sure you take a bath before every Puja and clean the place of worship. You should be wary of the direction you sit or perform the Puja/ Aarti. Directions like South is not appropriate for worship. The puja and aarti should end before 12 noon. The puja or aarti is not performed between 12 PM and 4 PM. It is considered prohibited by the Vedas. Bathrooms and Toilets should be away from Puja's place. You can ask priests to know more about the prohibition during pujas. For example, an incensed stick is not used in havans. It is replaced with dhoop or Diya.
Now you have all the information you need to know before doing a Puja. While everything takes time, so do prayers. Regardless of your busy lifestyle, always be regular and consistent with your prayer. Slowly but surely, you will see definite results.