Most of us, Hindus, indulge in some form of worshipping God. But we may be getting many doubts and may doubt whether we are doing it properly or not. As I am performing puja since many years and have developed a systematic procedure of doing it, I would like to share my experiences of how to do puja at home in a simple and systematic manner so that you can get utmost satisfaction by performing your puja.
Preparing yourself before starting Puja
Before starting to perform puja or the worship of God, one must get himself clean and pure by bathing and wearing pure and clean clothes. This makes your body and mind cool and prepared for meditation. Most orthodox people keep their silk dress solely for puja purpose which is used only for performing puja and then kept at a holy place for using it daily. In this case, the silk dress need not be washed daily. It can be washed weekly or fortnightly as it is worn only for one hour or so daily during performing puja.
The place of worship also needs to be clean and peaceful. You may place your God in a corner of a peaceful room or, if you have a separate room for puja, it is well and good. Keep the place neat and clean by cleaning with a cloth or small broom used separately for that purpose.
How to perform Daily Puja or routine worship
I will explain how to perform puja at home in a very simple manner according to your available time and facilities. But you should keep it a daily practice to make it bestow peace and happiness in your life and family. You may do it shortly for 15 minutes or long and detailed puja for more than one hour according to your facility.
- First, you will clean the worship place and idols. Then sprinkle some drops of water over the idols and around the place of puja. It is like bathing Gods. Puja is just a resemblance of your own lifestyle. Just like you get up early, wash and bathe yourselves and wear new clothes, then take food. In the same way, you clean the God and wear clothes to Him and offer your prayers and food to Him. You may not literally sprinkle water over the idols. You can keep a separate glass or small vase with water and an empty plate so that you show the water to God and then pour into the plate symbolizing the offering of a bath. And, instead of clothes, you can place flowers as offering clothes to God.
- Before starting worship, you will light the oil lamp or deepam according to the Hindu customs. The lamps are generally made up of brass or panchaloha metal. Keep the lamps simple and small so that smoke will not occur. You may wash and clean them weekly or so to maintain them neat and clean.
- Change the cotton vattulu (or wicks) daily morning and fill the lamp holder with oil up to 75% or like that so as to prevent from the spilling or overflowing of oil. Then light it with a match stick.
- You may place two lamps on both sides of God. While placing so, one deepam will be placed towards the east (towards Sun) and the other one towards North (for God).
- Wicks are generally lighted by combining two wicks into one which represents the full family or man- woman bondage. This brings harmony and happiness in the family.
- After lighting lamps, you will chant the hymns or sloka of "Suklambaradharam" and then make the guru stuthi or paying respect to the tree of your gurus (teachers of the family tree). It starts from the guru of your old ancestors till your present guru.
- Then, you will say all your hymns and slokas in praise of your Gods known as stothram. You can read or recite as many as you can according to your available time or family traditions. Puja books are available at any shop of puja material.
- If you can afford, you may worship with flowers also.
- After worship and prayers are over, you will light the incense sticks and show round your Gods.
- After offering the incense, show the light of the lamp towards God with your right hand.
- Now, offerings of food and fruits are made to God by showing the food and fruit with your right hand towards Gods' mouth as if feeding Him.
- The last thing to offer is the lighting of camphor and reciting arati lines or songs.
- Now, your puja is over and you can take the prasadam and offer to your family members also.
- Those doing Gayatri mantra daily will first perform the Gayatri puja by standing before Sun and then start the daily puja.
Special Puja at home
At special occasions like festivals or auspicious ceremonies of family, you may like to give more time to God for expressing your deep love and devotion towards Him. On such occasions, you may perform long and detailed worship in a ritual mood. So, besides the daily formal worship, you may want to worship Him more sincerely contributing more time and devotion. Some of the rituals can include as follows.
- You may bathe your God and clean Him with water and soap. Goddess can be bathed with applying turmeric powder also.
- You may pour milk and rose water also while doing so.
- After the bath is over, dry the idols. If they are photos, you will not bathe them. Simply sprinkle some drops and clean with a pure cloth.
- Then apply turmeric and kumkum powder to the seat or place of God before placing the God on it.
- Apply some turmeric to Goddess and tilak on the forehead to both God and Goddess.
- Then you can adore Gods with flowers.
- Decorate the puja room or place also beautifully.
- You may decorate with electric lights also.
- You can light more oil lights or place more wicks in each lamp if there is provision for placing five wicks in each light lamp to make the place dazzling and beautiful.
- Do the puja or worship as done daily but while reciting names of God you can worship with flowers at chanting of each name. 1000 name worships can be done placing 1000 flowers or petals of flowers. Worship is done with some special leaves of plants and trees also on certain occasions. You can buy the prayer books and the puja material from puja material stores.
- Special offerings like sweets and food dishes and fruits and coconuts are also offered during such worships.
- People are invited to take part in the celebration and prasadam distributed to them also.
You may ask what are the benefits of doing puja or worship. I would say it is for our own happiness and satisfaction. We experience a lot of happiness and peace of mind by doing puja. We feel satisfaction and a feeling of relief and joy with this practice. It is like meditation. Freeing your mind from tensions for some time and experiencing tranquillity and peace. Your health and brain power will improve with this. It will result in happiness and lead to success by facing and solving problems peacefully. So puja is very good for your life.