Chapter 2:
Background Information for Teachers


How is puja performed?

Wherever puja is performed it includes three important components: the seeing of the deity; puja, or worship, which includes offering flowers, fruits, and foods; and retrieving the blessed food and consuming it. By performing these sacred acts the worshiper creates a relationship with the divine through his or her emotions and senses.

During a household puja, the head of the household chants prayers to the god or goddess. The worshipers offer the deity a seat, wash its feet, and give it water. An image may be symbolically bathed, clothed in new garments, and embellished with ornaments. Perfumes and ointments may be applied, and flowers and garlands may be placed before it. Incense is burned, and a lighted lamp is waved in front of the deity. Foods such as cooked rice, fruit, butter, and sugar are offered. Family members bow before the image, sip the water they have given the god, and receive a portion of cooked food. The food and water are now considered to have been blessed by the deity for the devotees.

At the temple, where the gods are believed to dwell as royalty, puja is usually performed at sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight. Worshipers may also arrange for a puja to be done by a priest to mark a special event such as a birth or death or to ask for a particular favor.

Puja is a multisensory experience. One observes the offering of the lighted lamps, touches the ritual objects and feet of the deity (where possible), hears the ringing of the bells and the sacred chants being recited, smells the incense, and tastes the blessed food offered at the end of the ritual.

Video clip:
Krishna temple in India. Approximately five minutes download time on a 28.8 modem.

Get the QuickTime plug-in.

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