India - Photos by Kristian Bertel - Puja is a religious ritual performed by Hindus as an offering to various deities, distinguished persons, or special guests. It is done on a variety of occasions and settings, from daily puja done in the home, to temple ceremonies and large festivals, or to begin a new venture. Puja is modeled on the idea of giving a gift or offering to a deity or important person and receiving their blessing the so-called Ashirvad. The two main areas where puja is performed is in the home and at public temples. There are many variations in scale, offering, and ceremony. Puja is also performed on special occasions such as Durga Puja and Lakshmi Puja. The puja ritual is performed by Hindus worldwide. Various poojas are performed at various times of the day and on various occasions.
Celebration of light
As darkness falls, this puja is a celebration of light. The nightly fire puja is a ceremonial dedication to the River Ganges, Sun, Lord Shiva, Fire and the whole universe, was being performed by the local young brahmin priests. Lots of incense smoke, loud clanging bells and chanting all add to the tone of an enchanting, time honoured tradition.
About the Puja Aarti ritual
Aarti is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, a part of puja, in which light from wicks soaked in ghee, which is purified butter or camphor is offered to one or more deities. Aartis also refer to the songs sung in praise of the deity, when lamps are being offered. Aarti is generally performed one to five times daily, and usually at the end of a puja in South India or bhajan session in North India. It is performed during almost all Hindu ceremonies and occasions. It involves the circulating of an Aarti plate or Aarti lamp around a person or deity and is generally accompanied by the singing of songs in praise of that deva or person. In doing so, the plate or lamp is supposed to acquire the power of the deity.
The priest circulates the plate or lamp to all those present. They cup their down-turned hands over the flame and then raise their palms to their forehead - the purificatory blessing, passed from the deva's image to the flame, has now been passed to the devotee.