Glossary Terms for Worship
- Puja – usually refers to ritual worship of the murti
- Bhajan – adoration; indicates worship with love. Often refers to devotional singing or the hymns themselves
- Seva – indicates service (and the appropriate mood of worship)
- Yajna – sacrifice (an important aspect of worship)
Hindu worship encompasses a broad range of activities, including even dance and drama (see Expressions of Faith). In this section we focus on practices which to the Western mind seem more clearly “acts of worship.”
Hindu worship displays a number of distinct features:
- The presence of the Divine is perceived in diverse ways and tends to be inclusive. Thus, there is a complex array of focuses of worship (see Focuses of Worship).
- Much worship is performed individually, though in some traditions, like many in the UK, communal worship plays a central role.
- Hindu worship often takes place outside the temple, especially in the home.
- There are no specific days of worship, though days of the week are associated with particular deities (e.g. Shiva is honoured on Monday and Hanuman on Tuesday). In the UK, Sunday has become most important, as most Hindus are working during the week.
- The time of day is important. The hours on either side of dawn are considered most auspicious for worship, for they are influenced by the quality of goodness (see Prakriti and Guna). In India many temples begin their first public ceremony between four and six in the morning. Other ceremonies take place during the day; evening worship is particularly popular.
- Worship is often more spontaneous and less tightly regulated than in much Western religion, and individuals are usually quite free to join and leave ceremonies.
- Hindu worship often appears to lack the solemnity we sometimes associate with religion. God can be worshipped with awe and reverence but also with warmth, joy, and affection, as if He is a close friend or a loved one.
“For me, the highlight of the day is the morning worship. It is such a sweet and peaceful experience, and one I hope that I will never lose.”
Avadhuta Priya Dasi