There are several Hindu Rituals and Practices: The primary Hindu rituals can be defined: Aarti, Bhajan, Darshan, Mantra, Puja, Satsang, Stotra and Yagna
Aarti, Arti, arathi, or Arati is a Hindu ritual in which light from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) or camphor is offered to one or more deities. It may be said to have descended from the Vedic concept of fire rituals, or homa. The word may also refer to the traditional Hindu devotional song that is sung in the ritual of the same name.
Aarti is generally performed twice or three times daily. For example, in the morning and in the evening, and at the end of a puja or bhajan session.
In mandirs (Hindu temples) aarti is performed daily by pujaris (priests). There is usually a ‘mangala-arati’ first thing in the morning, another later in the morning, one at lunchtime, and the final arati of the day at sundown.
The assembled devotees in the temple sing various types of kirtana and bhajans during the arati ceremony. The pujari performing arati first purifies his hands with sacred water from the acamana cup. He then sprinkles three spoonfuls of water over a conch, and blows it three times. He then lights an odd number of incense sticks (usually three) from a ghee lamp standing beside the altar. While ringing a small bell, he waves it seven times around the deities, and then he waves it once to the assembled devotees.
The pujari next lights a five-wick ghee lamp from the large lamp and offers it; four circles to the deities’ feet, two to their navel, three to their face, and then he waves it seven times around the deities’ whole bodies. He then gives it to another devotee, who presents the lamp to each devotee in the temple room. When offered the ghee lamp, devotees touch the flame with their hands, and then touch their hands to their foreheads.
The pujari then takes a smaller conch and fills it with water. He offers it by waving it three times around the deities’ heads and seven times around their bodies. He then pours the water into a shaker; which another devotee takes and walks around the temple room shaking it, ensuring that everyone has been touched by the water.
The next item offered is a cloth, offered seven times around the deities. After the cloth has been offered, the pujari takes a plate with flowers on it and offers it seven times around the deities’ bodies. The plate is then taken by another devotee and offered to the rest of the devotees, who each sniff the flowers.
After that, the pujari takes a camara (yak-tail whisk) from beside the altar and waves it before the deities, to keep the flies away from them. In warm weather, he will also wave a peacock fan before the deities.
Bhajans are deeply rooted in the Indian tradition. Bhajans are simple songs in soulful language expressing the many-splendored emotions of love for God, a complete submission or self-surrender to him through singing.
Darshan is a Sanskrit Hindu term meaning sight or a glimpse of the divine. We could have a “darshan” of the deity in the temple (at the gross level) or have a “darshan” in that inward eye of a light or awareness (at a subtle plane). Sudarshan means a glimpse of the “self”.
In India people will travel hundreds of kilometres for the darshan, the look, of a holy man or woman because this look is believed to confer blessings. Conversely, looks of anger or envy are widely feared.
Darshan or Drshn means Seeing, derived from drush, to see. To see with reverence and devotion. The term is used specifically for beholding highly revered people with the intention of inwardly contacting and receiving their grace and blessings. “By doing darshan properly a devotee develops affection for God, and God develops affection for that devotee.”
In Indian culture, the touching of the feet (pranaam or charansparsh) is a show of respect and it is often an integral part of darshan. Children do touch the feet of their family elders while people of all ages will bend to touch the feet of a great guru or the icon of a Hindu demigod (angel) or a form of God (such as Ram or Krishna).
Vedanta darshan is also the philosophy of life as revealed in the Upanishads.
A mantra is a religious syllable or poem, typically from the Sanskrit language. Their use varies according to the school and philosophy associated with the mantra. They are primarily used as spiritual conduits, words and vibrations that instill one-pointed concentration in the devotee. Other purposes have included religious ceremonies to accumulating wealth, avoiding danger, or eliminating enemies. Mantras originated in India with Vedic Hinduism and were later adopted by Buddhists and Jains, now popular in various modern forms of spiritual practice which are loosely based on practices of these Eastern religions.
The word Mantra is a Sanskrit word combining the two syllables: man, meaning “mind”, and tra, translated as “deliverance”. A mantra is a pure sound-vibration intended to deliver the mind from illusion and material inclinations. Chanting is the process of repeating a mantra.
Puja (alternative transliteration pooja, Sanskrit: reverence or worship, loosely) is a religious ritual which most Hindus perform every morning after bathing and dressing but prior to taking any food or drink. Puja rituals vary between Hindu sects, but generally involve the chanting of a particular mantra on a mala (rosary) and optionally the offering of food and drink to one’s personal murtis (idols) of god and guru).
A puja can be performed for anyone the performer considers a god, from an idol of Vishnu to a holy tree. The worship consists of offering something to the object of worship, such as flowers or food, and possibly lighting a candle or incense.
The ritual may be observed in silence or accompanied by prayers. A Hindu priest will chant prayers in Sanskrit or some other language while performing puja.
Puja may be performed by an individual worshipper or in gatherings. Sometimes a puja is done for the benefit of certain people, for whom priests or relatives ask blessings.