Shodashopachara is an important aspect of Hindu daily rituals of worship of any God. Like moving a plate with lighted camphor in front of God is not aarti, there is more to it than meets the eye. It has more important significance behind it. A Journalist Reveals contacted Acharya Raman Kalkur for more details about the pooja.
Shodashopachara is an important part of performing idol worship. The ritual of lighting a lamp begins the pooja. Acharya explains, “This ritual is performed at the end of the pooja. Like we use anti-evil-eye charms, this ritual also removes the evil-eyes that would have affected our God. The whole pooja takes up from the concept of welcoming guests at home. When a guest arrives at home, we first give them water to wash their hands (arghya), feet (padhya) and to drink (achamaniyam).”
When a guest visits our home, we won’t give them eatables first. We give them water. He continues, “Then, we perform Madhuparkam, which is a kind of juice and a combination of curd, honey and ghee. Post this, we perform punarachamaniyam, give the guest water to bathe and dress to wear. Then, to God we give some perfume to wear, some akshata (rice grains mixed with either turmeric or Kum Kum with a drop of ghee) and garland the idol.”
He adds, “When we bathe a child washing its hair, we give heat so that the child does not catch a cold. Today, we have hair dryers. But, in the olden days, dhoop or sambrani was used. While performing pooja of God, incense sticks are also used in Shodashopachara. The incense sticks and lamps are offered and then some food as naivedyam. Finally, we perform the aarti. The significance of this is that we should look at the entire body of God while performing the aarti.”
There is a proper technique of performing aarti. He informs, “The aarti has to be performed in the following way – the plate or the lamp should be shown in circles first in front of the feet, then in the middle portion of the idol’s body and then the face. Finally, the whole body is shown the aarti 3 times. After this, we should close our eyes and absorb the vision into our mind. Thus, whenever we meditate, we should meditate on the same image always. Performing aarti in darkness is reveals a more beautiful idol.”