Mode of worship at home

Though more famous deities are usually housed in temples, which Hindus frequently visit, such divine images are also installed in private residences for regular worship, usually performed once or twice a day.

If a given family decides that regular deity worship might be too taxing for their daily schedule, they could perform services more sporadically, or offer homage to a facsimile—such as paintings of deities or paraphernalia offered to famous icons, like a dress or a set of beads. In these cases, standards of worship can be abbreviated or compromised. Traditionally, such worship is called “puja” and takes the shape of a formalized ceremony known as “arati.”

List of the standard items offered in arati would appear as follows:

1. A large conch-shell (to blow)

2. A cup of fresh water and a spoon (for purification)

3. Incense sticks (at least three).

4. Ghee lamp (usually five wicks)

5. Small conch-shell (for offering water) with a stand

6. Container of water to be offered

7. Cloth or handkerchief

8. Small plate of flowers

9. Lighter or matches

10. Whisk (a yak-tail chamara and/or a peacock fan)

11. Bell

Most Hindu households will have set aside such items for arati, though not mandatory all will perform the ceremony on a daily basis.


Usually, scriptural rulebooks or puja padhati are consulted for proper procedure, with the offerings initially directed toward a picture of one’s teacher or priest, and then toward the Lord himself, either as a deity, a picture, or some other representative item.

  • The Lord exists in his spiritual abode (transcendence) and is likewise present in the hearts of all individuals (immanence).
  • God becomes manifest not only as incarnations but also in “material” images. Thus, Vaishnavism, in particular, sees the deity as the “iconic incarnation” of the Lord.
  • The Sanskrit texts called Shilpa-Shastras give exact prescriptions for the fashioning of deities.
  • Deities, by their inconceivable power, can appear in their original spiritual form in any material element, including stone, wood, paint, gold, silver, and jewels.

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