Archive for March, 2007

  • Blessings!


    At the end of a puja or yagya the presiding priest will often place a small dot of kumkum on your forehead as you see happening in the photo above. Kumkum is a reddish powder that is made from tumeric (haldi) and lime juice.  It is associated with Lakshmi and the tradition is that at […]

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  • Aarti


    An integral part of every puja or yagya is the burning of camphor while a few mantras are chanted.  This process is  called aarti and is a very flexible and enjoyable part of a puja or yagya, or can even be performed alone.  In the photo below, the priest is performing aarti at the end […]

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  • Rudra abishekam

    Rudra abishekam

    This photo is taken towards the end of the rudra abishekam.  You can see that the lingam (center) has been decorated with flowers and the green leaves of the bilva tree are scattered around the base of the lingam.  Over the lingam you see a copper container decorated with orange marigold flower malas, into which […]

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  • Shiva abishekam

    Shiva abishekam

    Shiva (Rudra) is the destroyer of ignorance and as such is considered to be quite “hot”.  So in most temples there is a schedule of rudra abishekams that take place as often as every two to four hours throughout the day. In the photo below the Shiva lingam is seen in the center with the […]

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  • Abishekam; divine bathing

    Abishekam; divine bathing

    It is an interesting part of the vedic tradition, that the murti in a temple must be purified in various ways.  One of the most enjoyable is called abishekam.  It is, in its essence, a process of giving the murti a bath to purify it so that the deity (Lakshmi in this case, seen above) […]

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  • Utsava Murti

    Utsava Murti

    Another charming tradition in the temples that I have visited is that the deity, while usually situated deep in the inner sanctum, is frequently taken out for various festivals and celebrations. So, as you see here in this Lakshmi temple, there is a large granite Lakshmi in the back and a smaller utsava (or festival) […]

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  • And to every rule…..

    And to every rule…..

    There is an exception. I had written yesterday that most of the murtis in the north were white because they are typically carved from marble as opposed to a dark granite as in the south of India. Well, I was looking through some photos from recent Varanasi yagyas and what do I find? A dark […]

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  • North India Murti

    North India Murti

    As you can see from this beautiful murti of Durga, she is carved from a nice light white marble. Interestingly enough, this is a new experience for me because I have only visited South India, particularly Tamil Nadu where the murtis are carved from a dark granite which turns black when sesame oil is applied. […]

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  • Nandi, Shiva’s bull

    Nandi, Shiva’s bull

    Every deity has a “vahana” or mount that they ride around on. In the case of Shiva it is a bull, Vishnu has an eagle, Ganesha as mouse, etc. Every Shiva temple has a Nandi, who sits always looking towards Shiva. Nandi is actually quite a funny character in Vedic mythology who has quite a […]

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  • Evening Yagya

    Evening Yagya

    It is not often that a fire yagya (homam) is performed at night. So far as I know, most temples only perform an evening homam for Ganesha Chaturthi a few days after the full moon. A night time yagya is such a beautiful sight and there is something about it that transcends time. Perhaps it […]

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