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Thread: A Question Temple Puja

  1. #1
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    A Question Temple Puja

    Namaste,

    For those who remember me, yes it's been some time since my last post. I see a lot of new and old faces floating in and around HDF and it staggers me to think so many years have passed when I first joined nearly 10 years ago. How quickly time has flown and yet still how novice I feel in the practice, philosophy and understanding of Sanatana Dharma.

    For the first time in many, many years I was able to begin attending regular puja services at my local Hindu temple where Lord Vinayaka presides as the primary deity. Up until now, my efforts at bhakti yoga had been confined completely in the privacy of my home shrine where I perform japa and worship at home. I now make it a point to go every Sunday to attend morning services and participate in communal worship of God. The temple is small and the congregation varies from one or two other devotees to sometimes whole families. However, I find that I still have a few questions about worship of God in the Hindu tradition that might be answered here by HDF members who are regular attendees of a temple.

    1. In the temple, the morning puja I have attended is conducted by the swami who makes silent commune with Lord Vinayaka through mudras and gestures with his hand, before he offers uncooked rice into a bowl at His feet. This goes on for what I imagine to be 108 recitations of God's name before the blinds are drawn across shielding the vigraha's image from the congretation before bells are rung continuously for a time. At this point, the intensity of worship can be most keenly felt - can someone tell me why God's darshan is covered for this time? It is only for the time that the bell rings. All the while, invocations to Ganesha are silent from the priest.

    2. When receiving prasad, one of the offerings is a little metal crown that the priest briefly touches on the head of each devotee who joins their hands in prayer. I had not seen this before in other pujas. What is the significance and origin of this?

    3. I am aware of the tradition of knocking one's temples to remember Ganesha before worship, but what is the meaning of the pulling of one's ears and squatting a few times? Maybe it is a sign of humility? Is this tied in with worship of Ganesha?

    Om namah Shivaya.
    "Watch your thoughts, they become words.
    Watch your words, they become actions.
    Watch your actions, they become habits.
    Watch your habits, they become your character.
    Watch your character, it becomes your destiny."

    ॐ गं गणपतये नमः
    Om Gam Ganapataye namah

    लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनो भवन्तु ।
    Lokaah SamastaaH Sukhino Bhavantu

  2. #2
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    Re: A Question Temple Puja

    Namaste sunyata07

    If you worship Ganesha I recommend the book ‚Loving Ganesha‘ written by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. It can be downloaded here.
    https://www.himalayanacademy.com/view/loving-ganesha
    Your 3rd question is answered on pages 222/223

    SANKHAPRAHATI, KNOCKING THE TEMPLES
    When worshiping Lord Ganesa, standing before His shrine, devotees may tap the temples gently three times with the knuckles, fists closed and arms crossed in front of the face. Esoterically, this action is said to stimulate
    certain nerves within the head to catalyze the flow of amRita (nectar) from the sahasrara chakra at the crown of the head, giving abhisheka (ritual bath) to Lord Ganesa, Who sits on the muladhara chakra at the base of the spine. It is a gesture of submission, beseeching forgiveness for errors, remembrance of Ganesa’s presence and suppli cation of the grace of this loving God.

    PALIKARSHA, PULLING THE EARS
    After knocking the temples lightly, devotees will often pull gently on the ear lobes with arms crossed, while bobbing up and down by bending the knees and bowing forward slightly. This rather humorous gesture is an expression of humility, a recognition that all souls are children in the eyes of God. Pulling the ears is done to draw Lord Ganesa’s loving attention to His self-effacing, self-erasing servant and submission of transgressions at His holy feet. Mystically, it stimulates important nadis, inner nerve currents to help internalize awareness for ritual worship, puja, and meditation, dhyana.


    Pranam
    Dance with Shiva - live with Shiva - merge with Shiva

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    Re: A Question Temple Puja

    Namaste...

    Quote Originally Posted by sunyata07 View Post
    Namaste,

    ...

    2. When receiving prasad, one of the offerings is a little metal crown that the priest briefly touches on the head of each devotee who joins their hands in prayer. I had not seen this before in other pujas. What is the significance and origin of this?

    ...

    Om namah Shivaya.
    I'm not at all versed in other temples, but the temple I attend is a Vishnu temple. When we receive the water (teertha, I believe it is, but I could be wrong), the priest takes a silver crown and touches the tops of our heads. On top of this "crown" are the padukas of Lord Vishnu. They are tiny but you can see them. I was told that this signifies service to the Lord's feet. I don't know if the same applies to Lord Ganesha... I would think it represents his shoes.
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ

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    Re: A Question Temple Puja

    Namaste IndiaLover,

    Thanks for your suggestion. I actually have a copy of Satguru Sivaya Subrahmuniyaswami's "Loving Ganesha". I will have to read through it again - it has been some time since I have been reading any spiritual material. I think it would be good to start again with this.

    Jainarayan, thank you for this interpretation. There is a garlanded image of Sri Venkateshwara and Maa Padmavati the left side of Ganesha's vigraham so you may be correct in this. I will eventually probably ask the swami to explain this as I haven't come across a confirmation yet either online or in previous instructions I have seen for partaking prasad.

    Thanks for your responses.

    Om namah Shivaya
    "Watch your thoughts, they become words.
    Watch your words, they become actions.
    Watch your actions, they become habits.
    Watch your habits, they become your character.
    Watch your character, it becomes your destiny."

    ॐ गं गणपतये नमः
    Om Gam Ganapataye namah

    लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनो भवन्तु ।
    Lokaah SamastaaH Sukhino Bhavantu

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    Re: A Question Temple Puja

    Namaste Sunyata,

    Welcome back !

    Quote Originally Posted by sunyata07 View Post
    1. In the temple, the morning puja I have attended is conducted by the swami who makes silent commune with Lord Vinayaka through mudras and gestures with his hand, before he offers uncooked rice into a bowl at His feet. This goes on for what I imagine to be 108 recitations of God's name before the blinds are drawn across shielding the vigraha's image from the congretation before bells are rung continuously for a time. At this point, the intensity of worship can be most keenly felt - can someone tell me why God's darshan is covered for this time? It is only for the time that the bell rings. All the while, invocations to Ganesha are silent from the priest.
    Actually, the rituals vary from one temple to the other. By the description you have provided, the temple must be a South Indian type temple. I almost all temples in South, and some in North, puja is conducted only by the priest and during that time, the priest covers the deity with a screen. I am not sure why it is done but these may be the reasons :

    a) The priest is not distracted by the activities of the crowd while performing puja
    b) The priest sometimes changes clothes of the deity and decorated Him with flowers/clothes etc. during which the deity should not be exposed to the public.

    2. When receiving prasad, one of the offerings is a little metal crown that the priest briefly touches on the head of each devotee who joins their hands in prayer. I had not seen this before in other pujas. What is the significance and origin of this?
    That ritual is bestowing blessings of God by the priest through a cup with impression of God's feet.

    3. I am aware of the tradition of knocking one's temples to remember Ganesha before worship, but what is the meaning of the pulling of one's ears and squatting a few times? Maybe it is a sign of humility? Is this tied in with worship of Ganesha?
    This ritual is for asking for God's forgiveness committed by the devotee unknowingly either in thoughts or actions in worshipping the deity.

    OM
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

  6. #6
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    Re: A Question Temple Puja

    Namaste devotee,

    Thanks for the welcome back.

    Your explanation is very much appreciated! Yes, you are correct that the temple is mostly South Indian style as I have heard on a number of occasions visitors ask if the priest is able to converse and perform puja in Tamil.

    This ritual is for asking for God's forgiveness committed by the devotee unknowingly either in thoughts or actions in worshipping the deity.
    I have so much to work on from where I left off, I feel back at square one! I will certainly need to remember to pull my ears often as I am trying to re-establish a regular sadhana.

    Many thanks as always to the HDF community for their knowledge and patience.

    Om namah Shivaya
    "Watch your thoughts, they become words.
    Watch your words, they become actions.
    Watch your actions, they become habits.
    Watch your habits, they become your character.
    Watch your character, it becomes your destiny."

    ॐ गं गणपतये नमः
    Om Gam Ganapataye namah

    लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनो भवन्तु ।
    Lokaah SamastaaH Sukhino Bhavantu

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