Puja: Ritual Worship

Puja in the Temple

Temple priests bathe the murti early in the morning.

Puja refers to worship, particularly of the sacred image. Each sampradaya (denomination) has elaborate rules for its performance, and the practical details vary considerably. Puja usually involves bathing and dressing the deity and offering various auspicious items, such as water, perfume, and flowers. It often culminates in the offering of food, and is immediately followed by the arti ceremony. Puja generally includes a minimum of 16 devotional acts.

Puja at Home

Worship offered at home is usually a scaled-down version of the grand temple services. It may be offered daily or just once a week, whereas scheduled temple worship must continue daily from early morning to late evening. Puja is usually considered an act of devotional service to God or the chosen deity.

Flower garlands are an important feature of the deity’s costume. This man sells them to worshippers outside a temple in India.

A lady sews a new costume for the temple deities, who are dressed daily after bathing. The new outfit will be offered on a festival day.

Food offered on the shrine just before the arti ceremony. After the arti, morsels of the prasad are received by worshippers.