What is a Puja?
A Puja is a method to worship the divine, a way of showing your devotion, an act of faith to connect with the Supreme Power – God Almighty, which helps invite the divine presence/divine energy to dwell in your mind, body, heart, and home.
To make our puja more effective and establish our connection with various aspects of the Divine (deities – Gods and Goddesses), the accomplished hindu sages and priests have given us various tools such as prayers, recitation of mantras and aartis in the honour and praise of God, and, also given us the holy books that help us connect with the truth, and refine our character, personality and shape us to evolve and become our best self on every level.
The result of that makes our life easier, we become less complicated, we find/attract fulfillment of our desires. But, puja is not only about getting your wishes fulfilled but it is a true and sincere attempt to connect with the beautiful and eternal qualities and power of God Almighty’s various aspects. Getting your wishes fulfilled is just the by-product. Puja helps in bringing peace, positivity, inner knowing, strength and courage, knowledge and wisdom, transformation and joy.
Puja must be done with a pure heart to experience the connection with the divine power which helps in our evolution on many levels, gives us a feeling of contentment to live life, and also gives us the power and energy to face challenges, and builds a constant protective force around us. Those who perform regular puja experience its wonderful effects in difficult situations of life as it makes their tasks and situations easier and the quality of life improves.
Significance of Puja in Hinduism
Hinduism is enriched with numerous customs and traditions that have been followed by many since ancient times. One such way is Puja i.e. worshipping the Gods and Goddesses (our deities) truthfully, and with single mindedness. In the Hindu religion, performing Puja is an essential part of every ceremony and event that is conducted to mark a new beginning, festival, or any auspicious occasion. Puja benefits the sadhaks/worshippers in different ways if done with good intentions.
One has to drop the ego as much as possible and surrender him or herself to God’s divine power. This cleanses the mind and soul of the sadhaks/worshippers and leaves him/her with a feeling of peace and harmony. The idols (that are energized) worshipped are said to have the presence of the presiding deity who bring positive vibrations. Puja is also known to be a channel to connect and communicate with God and convey our devotion, happiness, sorrow, and ask for desire fulfillment.
Every Hindu household prominently follows a similar pattern of worship which is bathing the deity idols, decorating the puja altar, reciting Stotra, Stuti, etc. of the respective God, offering fresh flowers, Naivedhya, and keeping the Puja area always clean. God resides in the house in the form of the idol and that is why the statues or photographs of God/Goddesses have to be worshipped daily.
Images, idols, or Yantras of Gods that are placed on the puja altar have to be handled with extreme care. It is believed that irregular worship or being careless about the puja rituals may lead to God’s wrath; while some may believe and some may disbelieve this belief, it is important to understand regularity and consistency in worship is an essential discipline to have.
There are Puja Kits available for the convenience of the sadhaks/worshippers as they can find all the items in one place and daily Puja becomes easier.
Benefits of Daily Puja
Why does a Puja ritual hold tremendous significance is clear through the transformational benefits it gives to the sadhaks/worshippers. Performing Puja regularly only has positive effects and bestows the devotees with wish fulfillment and protection. More advantages of daily Puja are as follows:
- Helps the sadhaks/worshippers to gain optimism, adds value to life, and ultimately one sees how faith in the divine power changes situations and life.
- Brings harmony and happiness to one’s home.
- Soothes the mind and helps the sadhaks/worshippers find a way in tough circumstances.
- Relieves anxiety and gives the strength to face problems.
- Draws positivity to the dwelling and removes negative energies.
- Protects the sadhaks/worshippers from any dangers or sudden accidents.
- Fills the soul with gratitude and satisfaction.
- Gives a sense of wholeness.
- Brings calming energies and peace to the dwelling.
- Gives good health and keeps the worshipper safe from haphazard.
- Enables spiritual maturity and growth and gives blessings to lead a contented life.
Having a proper puja altar design for home/ office/ shop is an easier way and very helpful to invoke the energies of Gods and Goddesses and seek their blessings. Other aspects like the placement of the deity idols, the direction of the puja altar, etc. should also be considered under special guidance.
Items offered in Puja
Various Puja rituals are performed using varied items but there are some items that remain common in every Puja. Here is a list and importance of the major Puja Samagri (ingredients):
- A well-decorated or decent Puja Thali is needed to keep all the items neatly.
- Gangajal i.e. Ganges water is the holiest water for Hindus so a small amount of it is required to purify the puja altar, surroundings, and the sadhaks/worshippers as well.
- Kumkum and Haldi for offering to the deities in Puja.
- Dhoop Sticks/ Incense Sticks for pleasing the Gods with the fragrance It fills the ambiance with good vibes and makes everyone feel pleasant.
- Flowers are offered to the deity idols as they signify pure devotion.
- Fresh fruits represent the fullness of life and that is why they are offered in puja rituals.
- Akshat means rice grains that have the quality of attracting divine elements.
- Naivedyam blog (food items) is the meal prepared as an offering after the completion of Puja. The food items vary from deity to deity, for instance, Modak is made for Lord Ganesha. Similarly, food offered as Bhog can change in every region of the world due to cultural differences.
- Further, that Naivedya is distributed as Prasad to everyone around.