Vedic rituals, like the 'Yagna' and 'Puja', as said Shri
, are "attempts to fulfill the purpose of creation and elevate
the status of man to that of a godhead or a cosmic man". Puja is essentially
a ritual suggestive of symbolic offering of our lives and activities to God.
Symbolic Significance of Puja Items
Every object associated with the ritual of Puja or worship is symbolically significant.
The statue or image of the deity, which is called 'Vigraha' (Sanskrit: 'vi'+
'graha') means something that is devoid of the ill effects of the planets or
'grahas'. The flower that we offer to the deity stands for the good that has
blossomed in us. The fruits offered symbolize our detachment, self-sacrifice
and surrender, and the incense we burn collectively stands for the desires we
have for various things in life. The lamp
we light represents the light in us,
that is the soul, which we offer to the Absolute. The vermilion or red powder
stands for our emotions.
The holiest of flowers for Hindus, the beautiful lotus
is symbolic of the true soul of an individual. It represents the being, which
lives in turbid waters yet rises up and blossoms to the point of enlightenment.
Mythologically speaking, lotus is also a symbol of creation, since Brahma
the creator came forth from the lotus that blooms from the navel of Vishnu
It is also famous as the symbol of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - the Hindu
Right-wing political party of India, the familiar lotus position in meditation
, and as the national flower
of India and Bangladesh.
An earthen pot or pitcher - called 'Purnakumbha' - full of water, and with fresh
mango leaves and a coconut atop it, is generally placed as the chief deity or
by the side of the deity before starting a Puja. Purnakumbha literally means
a 'full pitcher' (Sanskrit: 'purna' = full, 'kumbha' = pot). The pot symbolizes
mother earth, the water life-giver, the leaves life and the coconut divine consciousness.
Commonly used during almost all religious rites, ans also called 'kalasha
the pitcher also stands for goddess Lakshmi
Fruits & Leaves
The water in the Purnakumbha and the coconut have been objects of worship since
the Vedic age. The coconut (Sanskrit: Sriphala = God's fruit) alone is also
used to symbolize 'God'. While worshipping any deity, a coconut is almost always
offered along with flowers and incense sticks. Other natural objects that symbolize
divinity are the betel leaf, the areca-nut or betel-nut, banyan
leaf and the leaf of 'bael'
or bilva tree
Naivedya or Prasad
'Prasad' is the food that is offered to God in a typical Hindu ritual worship or Puja. It is our ignorance ('avidya') which we offer to the deity in a Puja. The food
symbolically stands for our ignorant consciousness, which we place before god
for spiritual enlightenment. After he suffuses it with knowledge and light and
breathes a new life into our bodies, it makes us divine. When we share the prasad
with others, we share the knowledge we thus gained with fellow beings.