is one of the most important rituals and is performed during almost all
ceremonies and occasions. It involves the waving of an ‘arati plate’
around a person or idol and is generally accompanied by the singing of
songs in praise of that deity or person.
The arati plate is generally made of metal. On it reposes a lamp made of kneaded flour, mud or metal, filled with oil or ghee.
A cotton wick is put into the oil and then lighted, or camphor is burnt instead. The plate also contains flowers, incense and akshata.
purpose of performing arati is to ward off evil effects and the malefic
influence of the ‘evil eye’. Arati is hence performed on newborns,
small children during various ceremonies; on people who are going on or
are coming back from a long journey; on a bride and bridegroom when they
enter their house for the first time; on grain (if one has had a good
harvest); on animals or anything else of importance. It is also performed
on newly acquired property, like a house or a car.
is performed regularly on the idols of deity with the singing of special
arati songs. These songs laud the glory of the deities and describe the
benefits that one might gain by praying to them. Sometimes they also
contain snippets of information on the life of the gods. Arati songs are
specific to each deity. In most temples in India, arati is performed at
least twice a day, after the ceremonial puja
which is the time when
the largest number of devotees congregate.
While arati is being performed, the officiating priest waves the arati plate over the image of the deity. In doing so, the plate itself is said to acquire the radiance and the power of the deity. The priest then takes the plate around to all those present as prasada. The devotees cup their down turned hands over the flame and then raise their palms to their forehead. By doing this, it is believed that the purifying blessing, passed from the deity’s image to the flame, has now been passed to the devotee.
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