Temple and Rituals

Temple and Rituals

The priest is erudite in scriptures, prayers and rituals. His calling in life is public service. The priest's education consists of many years of intense study for his own spiritual evolution as well as to aid the public in its quest for God. The priest can teach meditation and recommend specific methods of worship. He can help devotees through difficult times.

A Hundi is a container used to receive donations. It is the responsibility of the community to maintain its religious places of worship. Traditionally, 10% of one's income is given as a gift of charity. The hundi provides the opportunity to donate anonymously. Besides money sometimes gold, jewelry, silver, or precious stones are given to the temple through the hundi. The hundi is usually placed at the entrance or close to the sanctum so devotees can offer without too much attention.

Homa Pit
Homa is a fire ceremony in which oblations are offered to God. Offerings such as ghee and rice are put into the homa pit (a hole in the ground). Agni, the God of fire receives the prayers and gifts and delivers them to the Gods in heaven through Vayu the air God. Pradakshina Pradakshina is the circling around of a sacred object such as deities, the temple, or guru. Usually 3 rounds are made but the devotee can do as many rounds as his energy permits. Sometimes pledges are given to the gods to do a certain amount of pradakshina in return for favors received. Anga pradakshina is rolling on the ground while circumambulating the temple. It is a discipline to encircle God totally in our attention. Pradakshina is an act of love and veneration.

A Kalasham is a pot usually filled with water and is used in the worship of the deities. It holds the vibrations built up by the chanting of sacred mantras. It is often decorated as a deity would be.

The dome and scepter at the very top of the temple are known as the Kumbham. They transmit all the energy that is created within the temple out to the universe. They also attract energy which is then balanced, transmuted, and grounded, filling the temple with pure vibrations.

The pond in front of the temple is symbolic of the great tanks of water in front of temples in India. Often devotees would come from great distances and would wash their feet in the temple pool before entering the house of the Lord. People could also offer their daily worship to the sun standing in the water. During festival times the deities were given ceremonial baths and the temple animals were cleaned in the tank. It provided fresh water during times of drought as most ponds were fed by underground springs. The water was regularly cleaned and provided a cool meeting place in the evenings. Water is symbolic as purity and serenity - a washing clean of all things. The temple pond was a place where birds, animals and people all co-existed in harmony.

Ceremonial Procession
On special occasions the deities are placed in a chariot and taken on a ceremonial procession. Many souls who are yearning to get a vision of the Lord are not physically capable of going to the temple. The Lord in his infinite love moves from his abode in the temple and in full regalia parades through the town. When the chariot moves through the streets the love of God unites all people, irrespective of cast, creed, and color. The excitement and devotion felt by those who have God's darshan make true the words of saints and sages - there is only one religion, the religion of Love. Navagrahas The Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Pluto, and Neptune are known as the Navagrahas or nine planets. These planets have a tremendous influence on all living beings as well as the weather, tides, and rhythms of Mother Earth. The Navagrahas are worshipped so they will only have a positive influence on our lives.