Rituals and Ritual Utensils



Introduction of Rituals and Ritual Utensils:

Customary Reverence

Sixty-four Upacharas are listed in sacred texts but in practice only 16 are offered--Shodasopachara, fashioned after the customary reverence shown to an honoured guest. They are:

1.Seating (Asana),
2.Welcome (Svagata),
3.0ffering water to wash the hands (Argya),
4.0fferingwater to the deity (Padya),
5.0fferingwater to sip and rinse the mouth (Achamana),
6.Providinga bath (Snana),
7.0ffering fresh clothes and decorations (Vasana-bhushana),
8.0ffering a fresh sacred thread (Yajnopavita),
9. Offering aromatic substances, such as sandal paste (Gandha),
10. Offering flowers (Pushpa ),
11. Burnl11glOcense (Dhupa),
12. Waving lights (Deepa),
13. Offering four kinds of food (Naivedya),
14. Offering Tambu/a (betel leaves, arecanut, camphor and spices),
15. Prostrations (Namaskara) along with circumambulations (Pmdakshina), and
16. Send-off (Visarjana)"

If a worship has to be brief, only five upacharas are gone through and are called Panchopachara. Though called 'five' services, Panchopachara are really six, including naivedya--padya, gandha, pushpa, dhupa, deepa and naivedya are these services.

These are common to Vaikhanasa, Pancharatra, Saktya and Saiva traditions and, thus, in spite of the different agamas the worship is largely uniform.

The panchopachara can also be elaborated Into ten (dasopachara) customary services.

In affluent temples ,more details are added, such as offering of ornaments (Abharana), decorations (Alankara), holding a mirror (Darpana), applying unguents (Anulepana), fanning with a fly-whisk (Chamara-vyajana), presenting dance and music (Nartana, Gita-vadya), reciting laudatory verses (Stuti) or Stotra), presenting fire oblations (Homa) and providing bed (Sayana).

Tri-kala Puja is conducted with the first two sessions merging into one. The morning session is the most elaborate, when the deity is given a ceremonial bath (Abhiseka) and customary decorations (Alankara).

Lakshmi - one who loves lotus
A silver vessel with ears as handles

water is the most important offering in all the agamaic rituals, and hence detailed norms are specified for its collection, storage and usage inside the sanctum for worship.

Water for ritual use has to be freshly collected early in the morning and for this purpose, fairly large pots are used, Such pots and other vessels used for the puja are artistically made, reflecting the skill of the artisan.

The water (now called Agrodaka) is poured into a large vessel called drona, normally a stone turf or a large silver or copper vessel with ears as handles.