Hinduism originated in India about 4000+ years ago and is the world ’s oldest existing religion. Hinduism then spread across the shores with people being attracted towards the wonderful tenets of Hinduism which include – Dharma, Samsara, Karma, and Moksha.
The Hindu temple is a place of worship for Hindus with its rich architecture attracting millions of people from around the world. Badrinath temple, Brihadeeswara temple, Somnath temple, Kashi Vishwanath temple, Tirupati Balaji, Srirangam temple and Vaishno Devi temple are some of the eminent temples in India.
Scholars regard Hinduism as a fusion or synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions, with diverse roots and no founder. Hinduism preaches peace and calm and Hindu holy texts comprise a large percentage of philosophical information.
Hindu Temple Rituals Explained
There are innumerable rituals in every temple which have been followed from ages. All of them have a cultural and scientific significance which have gone astray especially in recent times. We follow those customs and practices our elders ask us to follow without understanding them fully. No more.
Here is some of the information about the temple rituals and their significance.
1. Bathe before going to the temple
A temple is a place of worship which is clean and full of positive energy. Bathing before going to a temple avoids carrying germs and also calms your nerves and refreshes you while preventing you from getting distracted.
2. Do not eat non-vegetarian food
Non-vegetarian meals are rich in fat content and increase your metabolism, thus disturbing your inner peace. Concentration is required during religious rituals hence non-vegetarian food/curries, hot spices, and spicy vegetables like onions, garlic, and chilies should be avoided.
3. Remove footwear before entering the temple
Temples are in places with high magnetic values. When you enter a temple barefooted, the positive vibration gets transferred into your body. Removing your footwear also helps retain the cleanliness of the temple.
4. Observe the magnificent Gopuram
The Gopuram is a pyramid-like structure built at the entrance of the temple which is artistically designed with numerous sculptures narrating the stories of the chief deities. A temple is a place full of positive energy and the structure of Gopuram helps to store these positive energies and also the Kalasam placed on the top of the Gopuram prevents the Praharam from lightning.
The Gopurams of Meenakshi temple, Thanjavur temple, and Shiva temple at Chidambaram are famous examples. The symbol (logo) of the Tamil Nadu government represents the Gopuram of Srivilliputhur temple.
5. Prostrate in front of the Dhwajasthambam (kodimaram)
We prostrate (pray) in front of the Dhwajasthambam in the Northern direction, as North is considered to be auspicious in India. By doing so, we surrender ourselves to Him and seek His blessings. Prostrating helps to increase the flexibility of the spine, neck, and shoulders, expands the chest, and develops the leg and arm muscles. It strengthens the womb and also allows energy from the Earth passes into their body.
Sashtanga namaskaram is performed by the man in a way that the head, eyes, shoulders, chest, feet touch the ground.
Panhanga namaskaram is performed by the woman in a way that her knees, elbows, head representing mind and speech all touch the ground. The woman’s womb and breast are not to be touched to the ground as they bare fetus and provide nourishment to the newborn. It is a way of providing respect to women.
6. Ring the bell
It is our traditional belief that ringing a bell resembles knocking on God’s entrance and also it keeps the negative forces and negative thoughts away from the temple. The bells in the temple are composed of various metals like lead, copper, cadmium, zinc, nickel, chromium, and manganese in such a proportion that when rung, it produces an echo lasting for 6 seconds. A well-designed bell would produce om sound. The sound produced by the bell creates the unity of your left and right brains and also awakens your senses thus helping you attain the state of trance.
7. Temple inner doors
The doors of a temple prevent the positive energy of the temple from diminishing. Huge doors built for the temples prevented many barbaric Islamic invaders from harming the idols.
8. Moolavar and Utsavar
Moolavar is the main deity placed in the Garbhagriha and cannot be moved.
Uthsavar is the smaller version of the main deity and is taken around the town or village during the Uthsavam or festival.
9. Pooja Archana
Pooja Archana is a process of offering flower petals to the deity and reciting His names 108 times. Devotees involve themselves and pray to God during the Archana and it is believed that the prayers of devotees with pure heart come true.
Arathi is respect paid to God by offering various things representing the elements of earth. Flower and cloth representing the element of earth, water represent the element of water, the ghee-lamp represents the elements of fire, yak-tail fan represents air, conch is the sound and the bell represents ether, the emotional involvement in the songs sung, while mantras represent intelligence and obeisance to the soul.
Arathi helps to rouse the five senses, hearing – ringing the bell, sight – camphor, touch – touch camphor fire and pressing your palm over your eyes, smell – flowers, camphor, and incense sticks and finally the sense of taste by drinking Theertham.
10. Apply holy ash
Applying holy ash reminds humans of the mortal life and is believed to free us from the sins and keep us away from danger, and provide us with prosperity. The holy ash is prepared from cow dung or the remains of Havan Kund. This increases positive energy, prevents headache and allergies and also regulates the seven chakras of the human body.
10. Apply kumkum or tilak
Kumkum is a red powder prepared from turmeric-lime and mercury metal. Mercury is excellent in controlling blood pressure, stress, and strain. Applying Kumkum between the eyebrows, the major nerve point of a human body, is said to prevent loss of energy. It also helps to improve concentration and enhance blood circulation in facial muscles.
13. Drink teertham
Teertham is holy water stored in copper vessels which has Tulasi leaves in it. Tulasi is an antibiotic and helps to improve the immunity levels. Having Teertham cures a sore throat, fever, and common cold coughs. It also prevents heart disorder, and kidney stones.
14. Take satari
Satari is a crown made up of copper or gold designed with the Lord’s feet on top of it.
Satari is placed near the chief deity in the Garbhagriha where the positive vibrations are excessive. When the priest places the Satari over the head of the devotees, there is a rotation of these positive vibrations.
Hinduism asserts that we are mortals and by bowing towards God and placing His foot on our head, we get liberated from our sins.
15. Perform pradakshina
Pradakshina is a process of slowly walking around the Garbhagriha or Moolasthanam thrice. The Arathi takes place in the Garbhagriha and thus it consists of lots of positive energy. When you walk around it, you absorb the positive energy.
16. Eat prasadam
Naivedhyam is a process of offering foods to God, thus the food receives spiritual enlightenment when God partakes in it. The remaining food is distributed as Prasadam, which enlightens and nourishes you. Coconut bits, fruits, jaggery, honey, and ghee are used in the neivedhyam.
The Science of Hinduism
Hinduism is the only religion that has a sound scientific basis for its rituals yet anti-Hindu elements deride its followers without rhyme or reason. How can we know the scientific and traditional significance of our rituals unless we start reading and hearing about it? This is why we wrote this article.
Trust is the essence of life. Observe all these rituals the next time you visit the temple, it will mesmerise you. Share your Tirthayatra experiences either with us or your friends and family and let others partake in the blessings of our noble Gods and Goddesses.
Thanks and regards.
Nandhini Arunachalam, Content Writer at BlogsandCourses