Connecting with the Divine
Performing a Hindu puja ritual is a wonderful way to experience direct communication with the divine.
Forging a spiritual connection with the divine is the ultimate goal of many forms of worship. In our devotions, we transcend the limitations of our humanity using prayers, rituals, and invocations, or we seek the celestial in sacred items such as statuary, imagery, or natural objects. In the Hindu tradition, worshipers bond with the divine through the puja ritual. The purpose of the ritual is to create an atmosphere in which humans and spiritual beings can enjoy communion with one another. Though participants show reverence for their chosen deities, puja serves to bring the former and the latter together on an energetic level. Performing a puja ritual is thus a wonderful way to experience direct communication with the divine.
There are no limits as to whom may serve as the focal point of your puja. You need only choose a spirit guide to commune with and an object to represent them. Preparing for the puja ritual, however, can take some time, depending on the number of devotional acts you will perform. A classic puja includes 16 acts, including meditation, chanting, the reading of sacred texts, offerings of food and drink, and cleansing. You may also wish to present gifts of incense, flowers, and jewelry during the ritual. An altar or table covered by an altar cloth provides space for the representation of the divine and the seat of the puja. To begin, prepare your offerings and place them to the right of the altar. Then center yourself and release any stress you may feel—the puja is meant to be a joyful experience. Typically, the ritual begins with the ringing of a bell and an invitation, and progresses from chanting to the cleansing and dressing of the deity to the offerings to meditation. You can modify your puja in any way you wish.
Though the elaborate puja rituals performed in Hindu temples take place at sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight, puja performed in the home primarily takes place in the mornings and evenings. When your intention is to invite your spiritual guides into your home and heart, however, the time of day matters little. With practice, you will create a direct path to spiritual oneness that allows you to experience an amazing sense of closeness that reinforces your connection with the divine.