Method of Daily Puja
Submitted by Karthik

Whatever be your favorite God - Ganesha or Vishnu or Shiva or Hanuman, the way of doing pooja is the same.

Every Pooja has 16 steps. That is why it is called Shodasa Pooja (Shodasa means 16 in Sanskrit). Depending on one's convenience one can do 5, 10 or all the steps.

I will specify all the steps one by one. Before that some specific points:

a) One should take bath before doing any pooja.
b) A lamp must be lit near the place where pooja is going to be performed.

Steps of Shodasa Pooja:

Preliminary Steps:

a) Before commencing the pooja, one must offer prayers to Lord Ganesh or Ganpathy.

b) He/She must offer a prayer to his/her Guru or Spiritual Mentor.

Step 1 Dhyana and Avahana:
Sitting before the Image or Idol of our favorite deity, meditate on his form. For example, for Vishnu, one should think of conch, chakra and the mace in his hands and the lotus flower.

Then, invoke the deity into the pictures or idol through prayers. After this is performed, what is was previously an object becomes potent and holy. At this time, worshippers say "God, I know you are everywhere. I know you are also in this Photograph/Idol."  While doing the Pooja, one should not think of this just as a Picture. The picture or idol is GOD ("you") sitting opposite to me, accepting my pooja and prayers.

Step 2 Asana:
The next step is offering God a seat. This is done by just touching the picture, as if asking God to sit. Mentally imagine each step- Like God coming and sitting in front of us etc.

Step 3 Padhya:
In this step God's feet are washed with water. (This is a custom followed in India- where the feet of holy men are washed when they come to a house.) Washing feet of the idol is done by pouring a few drops of water before the image. **

Step 4 Argya:
Water is offered to God to wash his hands. This is again done by pouring a few drops of water before the idol.

Step 5 Achamanya and Madhuvarga :
Water is offered to wash his mouth and face in the earlier prescribed manner.

Madhuvarga (Madhu-Honey) is a beverage made of honey and milk is offered for the God to drink. This is offered to GOD by keeping the vessel mixed with honey and milk in front of the image.

Step 6 Abhishekam or Snanam:
Abishekam literally means bathing (GOD). For an Idol, a few drops of water can be poured on the idol and then dried. For a picture it is sufficient if you pour a few drops of water before the image.  In addition to water, you can pour milk, rose water, water mixed with sandalwood paste etc.

Step 7 Vastra:
Offering of dress including an upper garment. Usually flowers are offered in place of these. But you can also offer a piece of cloth.

Step 8 Gandha:
Sandalwood powder and kum-kum (red powder Hindus wear on their forehead) is offered to him.

Step 9 Abarana:
Offering of ornaments made of Gold/Silver/Stones etc.  While doing this, imagine putting a necklace on God and then place a flower at his feet.

Step 10 Pushpa mala:
Offering a garland of flowers.

Step 11 Archana:
Flowers of various types are offered to the Lord along with the chanting of his holy names.

Step 12 Dhoop:
Then show him an incense stick. The incense (agharbathi) can be light it and circled in clockwise manner three times in front of GOD.

Step 13 Deepam:
The next is offering of a lighted lamp. This can be an oil lamp.

Step 14 Naivedya:
Offer GOD food- fruits or cooked food.***

Step 15 Arthi:
Light camphor and show it in front of the deity and at the same time as reciting prayers. This light can be circled in front of GOD three times in a clockwise manner, and after praying you can take from the flame by putting your hands to the tip of the flame and then to your eyes.

Step 16 Pradakshina and Namaskara:
Offer flowers at the feet of God indicating your surrender to him. Then you prostrate before the deity. You then offer all your prayers/songs etc.

This pooja method has been traditionally observed in Hindu temples. Performing such a Pooja, cleanses one’s mind from evil habits and reduces anger, stress etc.

Over a period of time, this Pooja can be made more elaborate. Our friends and relatives can also be involved in this. In Hindu temples, during such poojas, several people chant the mantras, a few perform the actual rituals and some assist them in these rituals. This is how Hindu temples have evolved into huge community centers.


**(Please note that the terms Image and Idol have been used alternatively. The procedure remains same both while using a Photographic Image or a Bronze/Silver Idol)
***(The food offered to GOD - usually bananas, apples, oranges, sweets and freshly cooked rice, is called prasadam and one can eat this food right after the pooja is completed. If this food is offered to one in a temple, do not receive it with your left hand. Also, during puja do not offer anything to GOD with your left hand. The left hand can be used for support, but not for offering or doing rituals.)

This article was updated on October 22, 2006 from it's original post date of February 20, 2003. If you would like to contact Karthik, his email ID is:
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