Types of Worship
Within Hinduism, worship can include a wide range of practices and the boundaries between worship, service, glorification, etc. are not always distinct. Below we list ten principal acts of worship. Of these, the first two are most important. Keep in mind, though, that some traditions will differ. The Arya Samaj (see The Reform Movements), for example, places havan at the top of their list).
Some of these practices are performed individually and some congregationally – and many can be both. Additionally, all of them can be performed at home as well as in the temple.
Ten Types of Worship
- Puja – ritual worship, especially of the deity
- Arti – the greeting ceremony with lamps, etc.
- Bhajan or Kirtan – hymns and chants (often during arti)
- Darshan – taking audience of a deity or holy person
- Prasad – offering and eating sacred food
- Pravachan – talk or lecture on the scriptures
- Havan – the sacred fire ceremony
- Japa/Meditation/Prayer – internal practices of worship
- Parikram/Pradakshina – circumambulation
- Seva – active service, to the deity, holy people, etc.
“If one offers me with love a leaf, fruit, flower, or water, I will accept it.”
Lord Krishna in Bhagavad-gita 9.26
Visiting the temple
At about six in the morning, I do my own puja at home. Later, on my way to work, I briefly visit the temple for darshan. I ring the bell as I enter the temple room and pay my obeisance to the murtis. I say some prayers for God’s protection and put a few coins in the donation box. I then sip some charanamrita (holy water) and one of the priests gives me some prasada [sanctified food].
On Sundays we sometimes go for the early morning arti at 4.30 a.m. After that we worship Tulsi by circumambulating her and having kirtan. Then I join the other devotees for japa meditation on our beads. Later, after the priests have dressed the deities in their day outfits, the curtains open and we greet them with a short arti. After this comes guru-puja, in which we offer flowers to the spiritual master.Then one of the priests sings a short bhajan and gives a lecture. Sometimes at the end I ask questions about spiritual life. After breakfast I do some service, often by helping set up for a wedding. During the wedding there is a sacred-fire ceremony.