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Idol and Ritual Worship

Hindu scriptures believes in one supreme divine being. But there is an entire pantheon of deities. Each of these deities has specific physical and personal characteristics. They are the creation of the imagination and experiences of devotees and artists over thousands of years. These figures are of great beuty and grace carved or painted with extreme ornamentation and ostentation of garments., jewellery, details of their weapons, the animals or birds in their entourage. Each deity is also portrayed in solitary splendour, with his or her consorts, or with attendants and lesser deities in a group.

A hanging pot which is used to drip water continuously over the icons of various gods or over the Shivalinga. This pot has a conical bottom at the tip of which a knob or a cone or a cow's head is fitted.

A standing oil lamp with a wide flower -shaped bowl which has several grooves used for holding the long cotton wicks. A long stem is fitted into the base of another bowl to hold any oil that may drip. The shapes of samais differ from one region to another Deeplakshmi or the lamp-goddess, is associated with prosperity.

In a round tray made of metal, five small lamps called niranjanas are arranged and filled with ghee or oil. When lit, these lamps are used in a circular motion in front of the deity while devotional songs or chants are sung, Arati is an act of veneration and love. It is often performed for children or their birthdays, for newly wedded couples or to welcome guests and family members on auspicious occasions.

A small spoon used for bathing icons. It has a tiny bowl attached to a handle, usually shaped like a snake's hood.

A mini drum-like beaker which holds water or milk and is used with the achamani. The walls of this container are decorated with various motifs in copper and silver. Both the panchapatri and achamani can be made of silver.

A bell made of brass, copper or silver is used during rituals or while singing aratis.

A full pot on which a coconut and a sprig of mango leaves is placed, is a popular representation of god.

A metal platter to receive the water used during rituals is part of the rites of worship.

A large conch shell is worshipped as a symbol of Vishnu. It is blown at rituals to propitiate god.

Cooked food offered to god is called Pacca Khana and cannot contain onions and garlic.
In most homes and temples, this is strictly vegetarian food. Panchamrit, used for ritual baths of deities, is made by mixing equal parts of milk, yoghurt, sugar, honey and ghee. Fruits, dryfruits or cooked food offered to god is known as naivedya and when distributed to devotees is called prasad. Holy water distributed at a puja is called tirth.

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