Puja is worship. The Sanskrit term puja used in Hinduism refers to the worship of a deity through the observance of rituals.
Shodashopachara Puja ~ 16 Step Vedic Puja Ritual in a Hindu Pooja :
The primary purpose of this type of Puja is two-fold. Primarily it is to uplift the five senses of the worshiper and by doing so, elevate him to a higher level of consciousness that will promote good thoughts and actions. Secondarily it draws upon the Indian traditions of honouring a guest, wherein each upachara is a service to the deity who takes presence in the sculpture for the duration of the Puja.
Among these 16 Step Vedic Puja Ritual services, five hold more importance than the rest. Together these five services are referred to as the Pancha – upacharas and include gandha, Pushpa, dhoop, Deepa, and naivedya. Collectively, these five services engage the five senses.
Pancha – upacharas
- Gandha – Touch
Sandalwood paste cools the skin and is a natural insect repellant.
- Pushpa – Hearing
The recitation of the deity’s names that accompanies each flower engages the ears.
- Dhoop – Smell
Incense envelops the entire temple with a refreshing fragrance for the nose.
- Deepa – Sight
The lamp illuminates the deity and brings out the beauty of the icon to the eyes.
- Naivedya – Taste
Food that has been offered to the deity is eaten and entices the taste buds.
Shodashopachara Puja ~ The 16 Step Vedic Puja Ritual
- Dhyaana-Prayer while Meditating on the deity that is being invoked. Hold the flower in hand, say mantra then offer the flower
- Aavaahana – Inviting the deity into the altar. Hold another flower say mantra then offer the flower.
- Asana – Giving the deity a seat. Hold another flower say mantra then offer the flower.
- Paadya – Washing the deity’s feet with clean water as the mantra is chanted.
- Arghya – Offering the deity water to rinse hands and mouth as the mantra is chanted.
- Aachamana – Offering the deity water to drink as the mantra is chanted.
- Snaana – Bathing the deity with various auspicious items as the mantra is chanted. Chandan – Haldi -Sindoor.
- Vasthra – Dressing the deity in clean clothes as the mantra is chanted.
- Yagnopaveetha – Offering the deity a clean sacred thread as the mantra is chanted.
- Gandha – Spreading fresh sandalwood paste on the deity as the mantra is chanted.
- Pushpa – Offering fresh flowers while chanting the deity’s names as the mantra is chanted.
- Dhoopam – Spreading incense smoke throughout the altar as the mantra is chanted
- Deepam – Waving a lamp to illuminate the freshly decorated deity as the mantra is chanted.
- Naivedyam – Offering deity food as the mantra is chanted.
- Taambulam – Offering the deity a refreshing mix of betel nut and leaves as the mantra is chanted.
- Pradakshina & Namaskara – Offer money, Circumambulating the altar and bidding farewell to the deity as the mantra is chanted.
Murti Gayatri Mantras:
- Ganesh Gayatri Mantra:
Om Lambhodaraya vidmahe Mahodaraya deemahi Thanno danthi prachodayath
Aum Ekadantaya Viddhamahe, Vakratundaya Dhimahi, Tanno Danti Prachodayat
Om Thatpurashaya vidhmahe Vakrathundaya dheemahi Thanno danthi prachodayath
- Rudra Gayatri Mantra:
Om Tatpurushaya Vidmahe Mahadevaya Dhimahi Tanno Rudrah Prachodayat
- Durga Gayatry Mantra:
Om Kathyayanaya Vidhmahe Kanya Kumari cha Dheemahe Thanno Durgaya Prachodayath
- Lakshmi Gayatri Mantra:
Om Shree Mahalakshmyai Cha Vidmahe Vishnu Patnyai Cha Dheemahi Tanno Lakshmi Prachodayat
- Om Saraswati Gayatri Mantra:
Om Aim Vagdevyai Vidmahe Kamarajaya Dhimahi। Tanno Devi Prachodayat
- Raam Gayatri Mantra:
Om Daserathaya Vidhmahe Sita Vallabhaya Dheemahe Thanno Rama Prachodayath
- Sita Gayatri Mantra:
Om Janaka Nandinye Vidhmahe Bhumijayai Dheemahe Thanno Sita Prachodayath
- Krishna Gayatri Mantra:
Om Dhamodharaya Vidhmahe Rukmani Vallabhay Dheemahe Thanno Krishna Prachodayath
- Radha Gayatri Mantra:
Om Vrishabhanujaye Vidhmahe Krishna priyaya Dheemahe Thanno Radha Prachodayath
- Hanuman Gayatri Mantra:
Om Aanjaneya Vidhmahe Maha balaya Dheemahe Thanno Hanuman Prachodayath
- Shirdi Sai Gayatri Mantra:
Om Shirdi vasaya Vidhmahe Sachithanandaya Dheemahe Thanno Sai Prachodayath
- Sathya Sai Gayatri Mantra:
Om Sri Sayeeswaraya Vidhmahe Sathya Devaya Dheemahe Thanno Sarva Prachodayath.
- Kali Gayatri Mantra:
Om Maha Kalyai Ca Vidmahe Smasana Vasinyai Dhimahi Tanno Kali Prachodayat.
Source : Hindu Puja