Hindu Sanatana Dharma !! Symbolic Acts Performed During Prayers and its Description !!

Jai Sriman Narayana !!

A simple prayer before the deity with hands folded and placed near the heart is the most common form of praying in Hindu religion. But there are also various other acts that Hindus perform while praying like lighting the lamp, offering flowers and leaves, burning camphor or offering Bhog/Neivedhiyam etc. In Hinduism, each act performed has a symbolic meaning.


Sprinkling of Water and Sipping while performing Puja:

Sprinkling of water symbolically performs the purification of the surroundings. Sipping of water is purification of oneself.

Lighting of Lamp:

It symbolizes removal of ignorance and ushering in of knowledge. The wick in the traditional oil lamp symbolizes ego and the oil or ghee used symbolizes our negative tendencies. When we are lit by self knowledge, the negative tendencies (oil) melt away and finally the ego (wick) perishes.

Burning of Camphor:

Burning of camphor symbolizes the destruction of our egos and arrogance. When ego melts what is left is the pure Self.

Lighting of Incense:

This is used for fragrance which symbolically suggests the presence of the deity and the love of deity.



Waving of lamp and camphor around the deity is symbolically an act of surrender.

Breaking Coconut:

Symbolically breaking of coconut is act of destruction of one’s ego. Coconut kernel and the water is also considered to be the purest form of offering that a devotee can make.

Offering of Betel leaves and Betel nuts:

Betel leaves and nuts symbolize fertility and prosperity ,is usually offered for the birth of children at home. It is also part of all important pujas among hindus of South India origins.

Ringing Bells at the end of   Puja:

The bells that are rung during puja are to keep out other noises and it is also a means of celebrations. Bells rang in the beginning is done to ward away evil forces.

Offering of Bhog/Neivediya/Prasad:

Symbolically, offering of good indicates a thanksgiving to the deity. It is an act of sharing God’s bounty. It is then distributed as 'prasad.' What is offered should be shared with the poor and the needy.

Offering of Flowers:

Flowers are offered basically because of their fragrance and due to the association of a particular flower with a particular deity. For example Bilva leaf is associated with Lord Shiva and Tulsi with Lord Vishnu. Puranas have stories which explain why a particular flower is associated with a particular deity.

On the symbolic level, the flowers and leaves are picked up with five fingers and is offered with all five fingers. It is usually placed at the feet of the deity. The five fingers symbolically indicate the five senses and thereby surrendering of it before the deity. Flowers are also offered by bringing it close to one’s heart. This symbolically suggests that one is offering the soul or atma to the deity.

Circumambulation of deity:

The act of Circumambulation of deity or Pradakshina described as in some places mainly in temples people walk around the Sanctum Sanctorum three times in clockwise direction. It is symbolically to cross the nether world, earth and heaven to reach Brahman.


Knocking the two ends of forehead before Pujas in South Indian origins:

Some devotees knock the two ends of forehead before beginning prayer and puja in South India. It is believed that the nerves connecting to the intellect passes through these two ends and the knocking are to invoke Lord Ganesha, the god of Budhi (intellect).

The act of arms crossed across the chest and holding ear tips/Thoppukarnam:

In South Indian Hindus while praying knock both the sides of forehead and then put arms crossed across the chest and hold ear tips and then sits and stands before the deity a few times. This is known was Thoppukarnam in South. It is a sort of self-imposed penance and praying for forgiveness.

Jai Sriman Narayana !!

Courtesy : Sri Maha Mariamman Kovil, Malaysia.


Anonymous said...

I am extremely impressed along with your writing skills and also with the format in your
weblog. Is that this a paid theme or did you customize it your self?
Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it is uncommon to look a nice
blog like this one nowadays..

Have a look at my site :: arabic bridal makeup

Anonymous said...

I all the time emailed this weblog post page to all my associates, since if like to read it then
my contacts will too.

Feel free to surf to my site :: email Campaign templates

Anonymous said...

It's an awesome article designed for all the internet visitors; they will get advantage from it I am sure.

my site; email templates