Hinduism is not a religion, but a way of life, so by definition, acts & rituals pervades all aspects of Hindu life.
Religious acts are not limited to one location or time of day. It assumes many forms: in the home, at the temple, on a pilgrimage, through yogic practices, dance or music, at the roadside, by the river.
What is Hindu worship called? Why is worship important in Hinduism?
Worship in Hinduism is an act of religious devotion & can take many forms, but the ultimate aim is achieving some specific end or to integrate the body, mind & spirit.
The purpose of life for Hindus is to achieve four aims of human life, called Purusharthas, which in Sanskrit literally means an “object of human pursuit”.
These are Dharma, Kama, Artha, and Moksha.
What is the true meaning of Dharma?
Righteousness, moral values. This involves the order that makes life and the universe possible, includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues, and the right way of living, in order to sustain harmony and order in the world.
What is the Kama?
Signifies desire, wish, passion, emotions, the pleasure of the senses, and the enjoyment of life, affection, or love, with or without sexual connotations.
Kāma is “love” without violating dharma (moral responsibility), artha (material prosperity) and one’s journey towards moksha (spiritual liberation).
What is Artha? Why is Artha important in Hinduism?
Prosperity incorporates wealth, career, activity to make a living, financial security and economic prosperity.
The proper pursuit of artha is considered an important aim of human life in Hinduism.
What is the Hindu concept of moksha?
Spiritual values, self-realization, and liberation in this life.
The aim is to live a pure life in order to eventually attain ultimate moksha, or liberation from the cycle of life & death.
These provide Hindus with opportunities to act morally and ethically and lead a good life.
Throughout their lives, Hindus attempt to end the cycle of samsara and carry out actions that provide good karma in this life and the next.
Hindus demonstrate their commitment to the faith not only through worship in temples or shrines but also through pilgrimages and charity work.
What is the meaning of Puja?
Worship, called Puja in Sanskrit, means “to honor” with loving offerings of light, flowers, water, or food to the Divine.
Most Hindu homes will have a shrine where families get together for offerings and prayers.
A shrine can be a small room, small altar, or simply pictures or statues of Deities.
These are representations of the one God, Brahman.
Hindus believe that God is present in every micro-particle in the world, including plants, animals, water, earth, ether, fire, sound, weather, etc.
Since this was difficult to perceive, Deities were created to focus one’s religious & spiritual connection with The Absolute.
Worship is an act of religious devotion directed to the deities. It may include chanting mantras, music, dance, poetry amongst other practices.
The puja or religious rituals provide one way of communicating with the One God.
As one evolved in their spiritual journey, the use of Deities is abandoned, as one can focus through meditation alone.
Many Hindus set aside time to pray a minimum of twice per day. The ritualistic prayers are held at dawn and at dusk, which usually starts with the recitation of the Gayatri Mantra, a Sanskrit prayer.
Puja is performed in order to communicate with this one divinity. The choice of worship is left to each individual & not tightly regulated.
God is considered a friend and bhajans are usually recited with warmth & joy with a chorus of drums & bells, rather than with solemnity.
Generally, the worshiper might approach the temple to give thanks, to give penance, for divine help to ease his problems, or even just to contemplate the Divine.
Havan, which is the act of sacrifice through offerings to The Absolute through fire is considered extremely auspicious and used in all celebrations, including in Hindu weddings.