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is a form of congregational worship, in which the
devotees stand facing the image of a deity or a defied
saint or, the personage (‘living idol’)
of an exalted saint singing devotional songs in unison.
Normally, the singing is accompanied by musical instruments
such as bells, gongs and crymbals. The object of worship
is devoutly decorated with posy garlands and, aromatic
incence and musk are kept smouldering.
While the devotees sing psalms, either an official
or a devotee revolves clockwise, (usually) a fivefold
oil lamp – consisting of five oil – traylets
- round the object of adoration. Such a performance
of aarti with a fivefold oil-lamp is called panchaarati.
A lamp with
wicks burning clarified butter (ghee) is most preferred.
After the devotional singing, the flame of the aarti-lamp
is offered to the devotees, who pass their hands by
turns over the sacred flame and quickly draw them
to their faces and heads as a gesture of drawing onto
themselves the auspicious energy emanating from ‘the
receptable grace’ i.e the flame.
essential constituent, of the ritual of aarti
is a kind of simple fire ritual. That is why it
is frequently translated as a ritual as of ‘waving
was the masters of the school of Bhakti (devotion)
who transformed the simple-fire ritual into an
exalted spiritual method. Worship in a congregational
setting is helpful in more than one way.
a communal prayer devotees can pray in a space
charged with the homogeneous devotional fervour
of a group can cut across the insulation of the
ego and merge easily into a group rhythm.
induces a sense of expanded consciousness in which
one tends to lose the individual ‘voice’
subtly, an awareness of being a part of a ‘Whole’
sense of separate identity melts into the mainstream
0f collective consciousness.
hymn or a psalm is an expression of ardent devotion
which in turn is capable of evoking kindred emotions
in the hearts of those who recite it This is a
language to commune with the Divine.
waving the lights in circular motion, we, in fact,
symbolically perform ‘Pradakshina’
around our Deity.
When the five-wick
lamp is lit, the devotee waves it symbolically, offering
his five pranas (The entire being of five pranas,
which are praan, apaan, samaan, udaan and vyan. Praan
has it’s seat in the lungs and is breath, Apaan
goes downwards and out at the anus. Samaan has its
seat in the cavity of the navel and is essential to
digestion. Udaan rises up in the throat and enters
the head. Vyan is diffused through the whole body),
to the Lord, totally surrendering himself and gaining,
seeking the union of the devotee’s soul with
the Supreme Self.