Significance of Aarti in a Hindu Pooja•
Posted on October 07 2021
Aarti is one of the sixteen steps involved in a pooja and is performed at the end of the ritual. The word Aarti is also spelt as Arti or Aarati. The sixteen steps are collectively referred to as shodasha upachaara. The origin of aarti dates back to early Vedic fire rituals where darkness was dispelled by lighting a lamp.
In most Hindu households, Aarti is performed twice a day during sunrise and sunset. At sunrise, the raja-tama atmosphere that is predominant at night disappears and the fire element frequencies of the Gods enter the universe. The Aarti at sunrise is done to welcome these frequencies. On the other hand, the Aarti done at sunset extinguishes the raja-tama frequencies and avoids distress in the environment by summoning the Gods.
Why is Aarti Performed by Hindus?
There are four key reasons why Aarti is done by Hindus. These reasons are highlighted below.
- Glorify and praise the Almighty
- Thank God for His blessings
- Seek forgiveness from God for sins committed
- Request God for a favour
Contents of the Aarti Plate
The Aarti plate is usually a circular metal plate made of copper, silver or bronze. The plate features a few essential items: a lamp with ghee or oil and five wicks, camphor, rice, incense sticks and flowers. All these are considered to be offerings to the supreme power.
How is Aarti Performed
The five wicks of the lamp and the camphor in the plate are light when performing the Aarti. The Aarti plate is held in the right hand and supported by the left hand. The plate is then waved in a circular clockwise pattern around the deity followed by the entire form.
The circular pattern generates a protective shield around the worshipper’s body. The Aarti plate should be moved only in the clockwise direction as this is the direction in which the earth moves. Hence, the different frequencies in the environment will be in sync with the movement of the lit camphor or lamp.
As the flame illuminates the different parts of the God, devotees can see their favourite deity with more clarity and concentrate better on the form. As the deity gets lit up, the person’s attention is diverted towards the light source representing life and knowledge.
Lighting up the camphor also has a spiritual significance. When camphor is lit, it burns without leaving traces and leaves a fragrance at the same time. Burning camphor is considered to be analogous to burning the ego of an individual. It also represents the blowing out of inherent vasanas like various materialistic desires and ego from the lives of human beings that separate them from God. At the same time, the person is made aware of the glory of the Lord.
An Aarti is often not complete without the ringing of a bell, singing hymns in honour of the deity or playing of a musical instrument. The Aarti ends with placing one’s palms over the flames and touching the eyes and head with the palms. Devotees believe that by doing so, the light that lit up the lord also lightens up their vision making it divine and their thoughts beautiful and noble.
The Aarti plate should never be waved over the head of the deity. If this is done, the raja frequencies produced from the Aarti interfere with the sattva particles in the calm frequencies generated from the head of the deity. This produces a friction and disintegrates the sattva particles before they are transmitted. When the plate is waved at exactly the head level, both the frequencies complement each other and the sattva particles get transmitted effectively.
Hindus believe that the Lord is pleased with the person performing the Aarti with utmost devotion and blesses him/her with his grace.
Philosophical Significance of Aarti
Interestingly, performing Aarti has a philosophical significance. The sun, stars, moon and fire are the natural sources of light. All of them exist only because of the Almighty. When we illuminate the deity with the Aarti flames, our focus is on the key light source that in turn drives all the other sources.
The sun is believed to be the deity governing the intellect trait while the moon and fire are said to rule over the mind and speech respectively. The Lord is above all these traits and presides all over them and illuminates them. In the absence of the supreme power, the intellect is unable to think whereas the mind fails to feel and the tongue lacks the ability to talk.
Aarti is said to represent the five elements of nature. These five elements are collectively called pancha bhootam and are symbolised as space, earth, fire, water and air. Often, the bhajan is sung in dedication to the specific deity. The most often recited Aarti that is applicable to all the Gods is Om Jai Jagadish Hare.
In large temples, Aarti is performed five times in a day. Each Aarti has a different name and is associated with a routine of the deity. These Aartis are Mangala Aarti performed at dawn, Shangar Aarti carried out in the early morning, Rajbhog Aarti done at midday, Sandhya Aarti performed at dusk and Shayan Aarti in the late evening.
Written by Deepthi K