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Use of Camphor in Hindu Rituals

Posted By ServDharm


Posted on February 14 2023

Camphor or karpoor as it is otherwise called is one of the essential sixteen samagris used in a Hindu pooja ritual and is indispensable in any pooja thali. The camphor used in Hindu rituals is white in colour and is often used at the end of a pooja after an arti. It is also used in hawan ceremonies and other forms of worship. There is a popular Hindu belief that burning camphor at sunset with a devout mind pleases the Gods and Goddesses.

Camphor is burnt in a lit lamp and moved around the deity or idol of the god upwards in a circular pattern. Some devotees also use a camphor holder made of brass exclusively intended for this purpose. This act is called nirajnama or mahanirajnam and symbolises humility and gratitude. It marks the successful completion of the worship during the ritual and assists the performer in being forgiven by the supreme power for anything missed out unknowingly during the ritual. Waving the camphor also helps him/her be liberated from mundane existence and ignorance in life.

After the nirajnama, devotees keep their hand over the flame in a cupped pattern and touch their foreheads and eyes to purify their thoughts and light up their vision. It is said that doing so helps in chastity of the soul and enlightenment of thought in an individual.

Camphor burns clean without leaving any residue till the end and rendering a lingering fragrance. This signifies that if we get rid of the undesirable ego and arrogance within us completely with quest for true knowledge, we will be able to become one with the lord and achieve self-realization. It is also a reminder for human beings on the essence of individual sacrifice for true happiness in the world.

With negativity, anxiety and stress engulfing the world today, negative energies tend to engulf our body very easily. The smoke released from the burnt white camphor balls is said to purify the surroundings where they are lit by getting rid of negative energy and evil spirits and helps to live a healthy and happy life with mood upliftment and low stress levels. It is said that inhaling the fragrance released when the camphor is burnt helps to dispel harmful entities, disturbing energies and the like that get attracted to a person and cleanse his/her aura to bless him/her with a peaceful and calm mind.

Camphor plays a key role in healing the blockages or imbalances of the various chakras in the human body. This is because camphor has frequencies or vibrations that help to get rid of these problems. This will in turn pave way for stimulating the chakras and clearing the blocks in them. As a result, camphor oil can be used to soothe troubled minds and is beneficial when practising yoga or chakra balancing meditation. To do this, take a little camphor oil on the ring finger and apply it over the third-eye chakra positioned between the two eyebrows in a circular pattern. This helps to experience an elevated state of awareness within the mind and an in-depth reflection of mindfulness.

The aroma from the burnt camphor also has the ability to kill the harmful bacteria and viruses around us and in the surrounding environment. When the camphor is burnt, it destroys the unmanifested desires in an individual with its flame. This makes the atmosphere favourable for performing meditation, puja or any form of spiritual activity with a focussed and clear mind.

As per the beliefs of renowned saints, when camphor is burnt, it alleviates deva dosha or the malefic effects of the ruling deity, pitru dosha or karmic debts of ancestors. This is another main reason why camphor is commonly used in any Vedic ritual, especially a Hindu pooja. Burning camphor in  ghee three times a day is also considered to be a remedy for kalsarpa dosha.

Camphor plays an important role in the Lakshmi Pooja performed during the Diwali/Deepavali festival. Hence, it is important to make sure that this is not left out during the ritual. Some reasons that attribute to the significance of camphor during the Lakshmi Pooja are mentioned below.

Wealth and Health

When camphor is lit at the end of the Lakshmi Pooja, the goddess is said to be happy with the ritual performed and blesses her devotee with wealth, success and good health in their lives. The wealth bestowed by Her is not with reference to money alone. It represents knowledge and peace of mind as well.

Soul Illumination

Lakshmi Pooja is typically performed on Amavasya night that is usually three days after the festival. Amavasya is a day of complete darkness. When camphor is lit on this night, it lights up not only the external surroundings but also the internal soul and mind of an individual. It converts his/her negative thoughts into positive ones without leaving any trace of grudges or negativity. This helps him/her take one step closer to God.

Destruction of Ego

Lighting pure camphor with a devout mind is an easy way to win the heart of the goddess. The lit camphor burns the ego inside a person and makes way for a divine entity. This helps him/her to embark on a new beginning in his/her life.

Worshippers of Lord Hanuman also engage in lighting some camphor tablets and reciting the Hanuman chalisa with a sincere mind before going to bed at night. They believe that by doing so, they will be saved from any untoward accidents by their favourite deity.

Association between Lord Venkateshwara and Camphor

There is an interesting story in Hindu mythology relating to why Lord Venkateshwara has camphor on his chin.

Once the Vaishnava saint Ramanujacharya asked his favourite devotee Ananthalwar to build a flower garden for offering his services to his favourite deity, Lord Venkateshwara. He refused to accept the assistance of anyone except his pregnant wife to build the garden although a brahmachari offered his help.

Ananthalwar’s wife was not able to help her husband as much as she wanted because she found it hard to engage in the manual hard labour. In the absence of Ananthalwar, the brahmachari came forward occasionally to help her. Once Ananthalwar caught the brahmachari in the act and threw his crowbar towards the brahmachari in a fit of anger. It hit the brahmachari on the chin and hurt him.

The brahnmachari ran away and was nowhere to be seen. When Ananthalwar went to the Tirupati temple in Tirumala the next day, he found the idol bleeding under its chin. Ananthalwar understood who the brahmachari was and realised his mistake. He asked the lord for forgiveness and applied some camphor on the wound. Lord Venkateshwara forgave him and told him that He would always have the camphor on His chin to portray Ananthalwar’s devotion towards Him.

Shiva Yajur Mantra

The Shiva Yajur mantra or Karpur Guaram given below entails the essence of using camphor.

Karapura Gauram Karunavataram

Samsara Saram Bhujagendra Haram

Sada Vasantam Hridayaravinde

Bhavam Bhavani Sahitam Namami

This sloka highlights on the fact that the purity of camphor is the same as that of the power of Lord Shiva. This is because the holy camphor flame is considered to represent the consciousness or everlasting and virtuous flame of the lord symbolising His third eye. The sloka also highlights the importance and purity of camphor.


Written by - Deepthi K



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