Simple Puja
Puja is the Hindu way of worshiping gods. These may be as simple or as elaborate as you choose. However, an elaborate one done without complete proper understanding is inert. It's best to keep worship simple and in love. The puja presented here can be done by one person or a few close friends or family members together. Some elaborate pujas done in temples are done with thousands of people!
Preparation
Take a ritual bath. This is done in exactly the same way as for Wicca, including Samkhya Wicca. A bath is prepared to the temperature of your liking. It is scented with essential oils or bath salts. The person sits in the tub, relaxes, clarifies their mind for the purpose of the ritual, and gets in the mood for it. This can be done with the lights dimmed or with candlelight, if preferred.

The ritual area is swept, and perhaps otherwise cleaned. It must be free of debris, dirt, and clutter.

The altar is set up. It does not have to be elaborate. A small wooden table with one candle, statue of a god or goddess, 2 pieces of cloth, essential oil, flowers, incense, potable water, food for offering, and a musical instrument. None of this has to be elaborate. Or, a small area on a floor or the ground will do nicely as well. The altar may stay up, or it may be taken down when not in use, as per needs and preference.

The working area is not of a set size. It should accommodate a circle large enough for the participants and the altar. This may be as small as about 4 ft in diameter, or may be hundreds of feet in diameter. The size should make it feel "cozy" and "intimate" with the persons celebrating. Personally, I have never done this other than alone or with one other person at a time.

Note that all of the ritual tools used in this ceremony are optional. If you do not have them, use something else in its place, such as you may substitute a drawing of a deity for a statue. If there is nothing you can use in its place, you can imagine it to be there. In fact, you can do this entire ritual in your mind if you want or need to.
Method
  1. We purify ourselves and the area where we sit or stand too pray and worship by walking deocile or clockwise around the circle sprinkling water from a lota or cup with the following mantra:
    • AUM APAVITRA PAVIRITO, SARV VASTHAM GATOPIVA. YEA SAMRET PUNDRI KAAKSHAM, SAR-BHYAA BHAYAANTRAM SUCHE.
  2. Take a little water in the right palm three times and sip after these three mantras. This is to purify our inner parts, allowing our awareness to improve.
    • AUM AMRITO PASTARN MASI SWAHA
    • AUM AMRITO APIDAAN MASI SWAHA
    • AUM SATYAM YA SAHREE MY SRI SHRITAAM SWAHA
  3. Take a little water in the left palm, and with the right ring finger, touch the water to various parts of the body - making these the instruments of the Lord or Lady.
    • AUM WANG ME AASEY ASTU (mouth)
    • AUM NAASUR MEY PRANO ASTU (nose)
    • AUM KAARNU MEY STROTRAM ASTU (ears)
    • AUM BAAHUR MEY BALAM ASTU (shoulders)
    • AUM ORWO MEY ORJO ASTU (legs, feet)
    • AUM ARISHT THAANI MAY ANGAANI TANUS TANTWA WA AMEY SAHAA SANTU (sprinkle water over the entire body with both hands)
      • You may wish to offer other prayers at this time.
  4. Offer the Lord or Lady a seat, either as the statue or in your mind with this mantra:
    • AUM RAMBYAM SHASHO BANHAM DIVYAM, SARV SOWKYAM KARAM SHUBAM, AASANAM TWAM MAYAA DAATAM GREY-HARN PARMESHWARAA.
  5. You may wish to wash the Lord's or Lady's feet in adoration with this mantra:
    • AUM PAADYAM PAADYAM SAMARPYMI, SRI SEVAAYE NAMO NAMAH
      Note: This is written as a puja to Lord Shiva. One may substitute or RAMAAYE, SITA, TARA, BHAGALA, for SEVAAYE as per the divine form worshipped at a given time.
  6. You may wish to offer the Lord or Lady a bath by sprinkling water over the statue or in your mind with this mantra:
    • AUM GANGEY CHA YAMUNA CHAIVEY GODAAVAREE SARASWAATI, NARADEY SIDHU KAVAAREE, JALEY AASMIN SANAAN NIDHI KURU
  7. Offer flowers to the deity with this mantra:
    • AUM MAALKAANI SUGHANDINI MAALYADINI VINAI PRABH, MAAYA HIRTAANI POOJARTAM, PUSP PAANI PRATI-GREY-HEY TAAM
  8. You may wish to offer chandan or tilak on the deity's forehead (and your own to signify yourself as a devotee) thus:
    • AUM SHRI KHANDANAM CHANDANAM SAMARPYAAMI, SRI SEVAAYE NAMO NAMAH
      Again, substitute the name for another deity if not worshipping Lord Shiva with this particular puja or ritual.
  9. You may wish to offer essential oil as perfume thus:
    • AUM ATARAM SAMARPYAAMI, SRI SEVAAYE NAMO NAMAH
  10. Light incense, and go around the circle deocile (clockwise) with this mantra:
    • AUM BANASPATI SODA BHUTU, GANDHA YO GHANDHAA OOTHAM, AGRIYAA SARV DEVAAM DHOOP POYAM PRAT-GREY-HEY TAAM
  11. Offer food with this mantra:
    • AUM TWADIYAM VASTU GOVINDA, TUBYA MEWAA SAMAR PAYAA GREY-HAN SAM MUKHO BHUKTWAA, PRASEEDAM PURSHOTAMAA
  12. Offer light from candle or oil lamp with this mantra:
    • AUM YAANI KAANIS CHA PAA-PAANI JANMANTUR KIRTAANI CHA TAANTAANI VINAISHANTI PRADAK-NAAMI PADEY PADEY.
  13. Pray for whatever it is that you want, or whomever or whatever you want at this time. Eat the prasad or offered food.
  14. Offer music. Sing, play the instrument(s), or however you wish to make this music. It is MUCH better if the music is made by you rather than played by mechanical reproduction, even if you are not a good performer. It is the intention that counts. If the Gods wanted you to be a better performer, they would have already helped you to become so. Or, you could ask Them for some talent during the prayers.

    This can be as long or as short as you wish it to be. If it is going to be long, you may wish to save some of the prasad or some of the water to sip for refreshment.
Notes
Prasad may be anything you wish to eat. Often, this is of fresh fruits or vegetables, or butter, or milk. It can be baked goods or cooked foods as well. It should not be meat, fermented, spoiled food. However, ANYTHING you offer in love will be graciously accepted.

Food, water, or other items offered to deities must NOT be wasted! The food is eaten or drunk by the worshippers, or it may be offered to other people after the ritual, or it may be fed to animals or used to fertilize plants.

Oil lamps are more traditional than candles, however, a candle works nicely.

Tilak is sandalwood paste, reconstituted with water. It is applied to the forhead with one or three lines going upward from the level of the eyebrows. This is normally made with the thumb.

The type of incense is not so important. There are different scents that various gods or goddesses "like" more than others. Sandalwood is always good if you're not sure. It pays to keep it around. The incense may be the stick type, or it may be a piece of charcoal which has aromatic herbs or gums placed on the tops.

Anything offered to the deity is placed before the statue, or in your mind where the statue "should" be.

I have always mostly worshipped solitary. On a few occasions, I have worshipped with one other person. There is something about this that brings you closer to the other person or people worshipping.
Personal Accounts
I did this the first time after my own "dark night of the soul". I spent about an hour washing the Lord's feet (statue) in tears for having abandoned Him. I not only felt that I was "forgiven", but that there was nothing to forgive! The one I had hurt by ignoring the Lord was myself. Then, I had to get over being so touched by Lord Shiva's kindness and love. All I can say is that this was very touching to me personally.

Food offered is placed before the statue's mouth, or where you imagine the statue's mouth to be. Normally, the gods do not take the food, but it is symbolic. However, during the mid 1990s for about a week, there were NUMEROUS accounts of statues of Lords Shiva and Ganesha actually drinking the milk that was offered to Them.

Copyright 2004 by Elizabeth Harper
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