Rituals oftentimes were traditionally performed as initiations and a way to honour something sacred (such as a holy or sacred teaching, wisdom, deity or Goddess), as a rite of passage (such as a transition from adolescence into adulthood), as a bridge to signify a major transition within a community or one’s life (or death, in some cases — you can see funerals as a very common example of rituals), or finally, as a way to give gratitude or thanks.
What is clear about the purpose of rituals, generally across the board for many communities and schools of thought and practices, is something I have already pointed to. Part of the magic in rituals was in their intention to honour something sacred. Furthermore, many of the most sacred of these rituals were often involving a community, group of people, Elders, or respected teachers. In some cases, the ritual allowed for the literal and energetic transmission of information that would mark the beginning, end, or both, of a significant transition or event.
Today, the term and practice of “ritual” can take on so many meanings and associations, and can truly be as significant, insignificant, community-oriented, or personal as we choose. For the purpose of our virtual ritual offerings, we are choosing to direct our focus on a very special type of ritual: a puja ceremony (also known as a fire ritual).
What is a puja ceremony?
To honour the sacred context of pujas, it’s important to have at least a basic understanding of their origins and background.
Puja ceremonies originated in India to honour the Hindu pantheon of Goddesses (although honouring Gods does happen, it is less common). We can also see puja ceremonies in the traditions of Jainism and Buddhism. Essentially, a puja is an offering that is conducted by a group of priests/priestesses to invoke the Divine. The ritual is considered so positive that it is regularly conducted throughout India and other parts of the world to help people remove problems and receive blessings.
During a puja, priests/priestesses do special chants and prayers on behalf of the requestor. They say the requestor’s name and birthdate, and then bless and offer candlelight, flowers and fruits.
A puja is a simple yet powerful way to communicate with the Divine in a way that gains favour, blessings and protection for the requestor.
The offering helps to increase the positive qualities of the Being you are honouring and to reduce (or neutralise) any “negative” qualities that may be influencing your life.