Symbolism of Puja, the Ritual Worship of God in Hinduism
Puja: The ritual worship of God

In many traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, Pūjā is the ritual of worship, it is the offerings to the divine. There are various ways of celebrating Pūjā and every tradition has developed its own rituals varying significantly between regions, temples and occasions.

In Hinduism we could synthesize 16 basic steps (ṣoḍaśa upacāra) common to all varieties of pūjā:

  1. Avahana – Invocation. Also called Dhyana.
  2. Asana – Offering of place. Also called Swagat – welcoming of the GOD
  3. Padya – Symbolic washing of the feet.
  4. Arghya – Symbolic washing of the head and body.
  5. Acamanīya – Symbolic washing of the mouth.
  6. Snana – Symbolic Bath. (Panchamitra Snana, Gandha Snana, Sudha Snana)
  7. Vastra – Dressing.
  8. Upavīda o Mangalsutra – Offering of the Sacred Thread   (Janeu o Yajñopavītam ) .
  9. Anulepana o Gandha. Offering of oils and perfumes, sandal paste, kumkum. ( Raktachandana, Sindoor, Abir-Glulal, Sughandit Dravya with Akshata)
  10. Pushpa – Offering of flowers.
  11. Dhupa – Offering of incense.
  12. Dipa o Aarti – Offering of fire.
  13. Naivedya ,Achamana and Dakshina– Offering of food & water and donations in form of currency.
  14. Namaskara o Pranama – Offering of salutations and Prayers.
  15. Parikrama – Ritual turning around the deity.
  16. Pushpanjali, Shastanga Pranama with Kshama Prathana – Offering of flowers, Full body Pranam (done with eight limbs) alongwith seeking pardon from God from unknown mistakes made during the Puja .


ॐ आवाहनं समर्पयामिoṁ āvāhanaṁ samarpayāmiInvocation
ॐ आसनं समर्पयामिoṁ āsanaṁ samarpayāmiOffering of place
ॐ पाद्यं समर्पयामिoṁ pādyaṁ samarpayāmiSymbolic washing of the feet
ॐ अर्घ्यं समर्पयामिoṁ arghyaṁ samarpayāmiSymbolic washing of the head and body
ॐ आचमनीयं समर्पयामिoṁ ācamanīyaṁ samarpayāmiSymbolic washing of the mouth
ॐ स्नानम् समर्पयामिoṁ snānam samarpayāmiSymbolic Bath
ॐ वस्त्रं समर्पयामिoṁ vastraṁ samarpayāmiDressing
ॐ यज्ञोपवीतं समर्पयामिoṁ yajñopavītaṁ samarpayāmiOffering of the Sacred Thread
ॐ चंदनं समर्पयामिoṁ caṁdanaṁ samarpayāmiOffering of sandal paste
ॐ परिमल द्रव्यं समर्पयामिoṁ parimala dravyaṁ samarpayāmiOffering of kumkum
ॐ पुष्ह्पणि समर्पयामिoṁ puṣhpaṇi samarpayāmiOffering of flowers
ॐ धूपं समर्पयामिoṁ dhūpaṁ samarpayāmiOffering of incense
ॐ दीपं समर्पयामिoṁ dīpaṁ samarpayāmiOffering of fire
ॐ नैवेद्यं समर्पयामिoṁ naivedyaṁ samarpayāmiOffering of food
ॐ दक्ष्हिणाम् समर्पयामिoṁ dakṣhiṇām samarpayāmiOffering of coins
ॐ आर्तिक्यं समर्पयामिoṁ ārtikyaṁ samarpayāmiWaving of lights
ॐ मन्त्रपुष्पं समर्पयामिoṁ mantrapuṣpaṁ samarpayāmiOffering of flowers
ॐ प्रदक्षिणान् नमस्कारान् समर्पयामिoṁ pradakṣiṇān namaskārān samarpayāmiOffering of salutations
Life Lessons To Learn From Lord Ganesha, Values to teach your ...

Ganesh, Lord Ganapati, is invoked before commencing any work, any Pūjā. He is the creator (Vighna Karta) and also destroyer (Vighna Harta) of obstacles.

He represents the earth element residing in the Muladhara Chakra at the base of spine.

By praying to Lord Ganapati, this chakra is activated. Our thinking patterns change, unwanted desires are removed bringing in mental peace and restoring health in individuals. The thought that ” I and the world is same and we are not separate from each other” is established, one pointed focus is achieved and any work undertaken becomes successful (Karya Siddhi) bringing in happiness in our lives.

Lord Ganapati when pleased grants us longevity (long life / Ayur), health (Aarogya), prosperity (wealth / Aishwarya), strength (Balam) and fame (Mahat / greatness).

Use of Kalash in Pūjā

Kalash (water vessel) is a symbol of good auspice of Hindu culture. It was created during the Samudramanthan or the great churning of the ocean. All deities can reside in the Kalash. Therefore, it has an important place in the puja ritual.

The worship of Kalash is widespread in Hindu ceremonies such as Griha Pravesha (Pūjā for the new house), to give the name to the child, in marriage, in the Havan, in the Vāstu Dosha (to give harmony and peace to the house), in the festivities and in the daily worship.

Kalash and the 5 elements:

The base of the metal vase represents the element Pṛthvī (Earth);

the center – Āp (water);

neck of the vase – Agni (fire);

the opening of the mouth – Vāyu (air);

the mango leaves – Ākāśa (ether).

In the context of the chakras, Śira (head) – the upper part of the coconut symbolizes the Sahasrara chakra and the Mūla (base) – the base of Kalash – Muladhara chakra.

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