GrihaPravesh Puja

Lord Ganesha in Hindu dharma has a unique place in the pantheon of Gods. He is the protector of mankind and no wonder Griha Pravesh Puja (or Vaastu puja) is performed invoking His blessings. Besides being a protector, he bestows good fortune and riches. Griha Pravesh Puja involves certain rituals like lighting the sacrificial fire (homam); breaking coconut, sprinkling holy water with mango leaves in all corners of the building and boiling milk to overflow as a sign of prosperity.

A specific date must be decided for Griha Pravesh Puja.

Hindus before entering a new home thank the almighty and their ancestors for helping to build a house or buy one. Invoke blessings of gods and ancestors is an important ritual before starting new life in new surrounding and the Griha Pravesh Puja becomes an important ritual to keep away evil eye, spirits or negative energies.

Like the wedding ceremony graha pravesh puja has lot of significance. No doubt a house is a precious possession for an individual. Invoking the blessings of Lord Ganesha is the first step and a sacred step. The puja requires several items and each of one has a special significance. A homam or sacrificial fire lit and the mantras chanted purify the surrounding. Coconuts are broken and holy water is sprinkled around the house in all corners. Conch shells are blown and camphor lamps lit to ward off evil spirits and purify the environment within and outside the house. There is the possibility that in time gone by someone was murdered or buried below. This puja wards off evil spirits.

Ancient scriptures insist on Griha Pravesh Puja. If ignored bad luck could befall and harm the inmates. Once the puja is completed the family should reside there for at least 3 days and keep the house well-lit with a wick lamp lighted with sesame oil to ensure evil vibration does not exist.

Graha Pravesh puja comprises Vaastu Shanti and Vaastu puja which all mean the same as the exercise is of harmonizing the environment. Homam is the most important aspect of it which is prayer to Fire God though all the remaining four elements of nature too are included. Sky, air, water, and earth. Each element needs to be balanced to produce a conducive environment.

Graha Pravesh ceremony is always followed by grand feast for family, friends, and relatives. Special guests too sometimes make their appearance.

Bhoomi Puja

Bhoomi or Earth is considered Mother of all. Without her support none can dare to exist, even be it microscopic life. We live and grow thanks to her gravitation support that keeps us moored while she carries us on her back without a murmur. Imagine Mother Earth getting a bit angry and wobbles left or right for a few minutes. Won’t we be thrown off her back into the space and fall to death?

Naturally when we raise a building there is digging of the earth to lay the foundation or when farmers begin tilling the land for the first time. We ought to feel a sense of indebtedness which expressed as gratitude in the form of seeking her blessings and forgiveness for disturbing her equilibrium.

Vaastu Shastra, the science of architecture and construction, makes it obligatory to perform Bhoomi or Vaastu puja in the form of chanting Vedic mantras to neutralize bad effects arising out of tampering earth’s equilibrium and in a metaphorical sense we could be asking Mother Earth to refrain from being angry.

Bhoomi Puja is done at auspicious time and preferably in the morning and at Northeast of the plot. There are dos and don’ts and this puja should be avoided if the woman of the household is menstruating or in advanced stage of pregnancy.

First part of bhoomi puja is shilanyas or the foundation-laying ceremony.  It is done before digging the earth and in days gone by man not modern enough he would start the construction by digging a well and perform the first puja. Then foundation-laying would follow with stone laid in Southwest corner. The groundbreaking ceremony would be done mostly during Uttarayan from June 21 through December 20 but today on the advice of the pandits timings or the day varies. Uttarayan was preferred earlier because days were longer with more daylight available for construction activity to move at rapid pace.

Today modern living and computers have changed our lives dramatically.  Once Vaastu puja meant digging of well and foundation stone laying ceremony or Shilanyas.

Today wells are out of vogue. The present generation might have barely seen a well. Even not all villages need a well today as there is water connectivity from panchayats. Mostly the puja we see today are the stone-laying ceremony that goes with the Vedic chanting of mantras. If it is a newly built flat it is the Graha Pravesh puja that is performed seeking protection of Lord Ganesha for peace and prosperity. This puja is also an important ritual to keep evil spirits or negative energies away.

Chanting

Chanting refers to chanting of mantras. Mantras bring out positive energy within. But chanting for chanting’s sake has no meaning. Tradition has it that mantra’s efficacy depends on proper pronunciation—vowel uttered like vowels. Mantras in Sanskrit means “completely formed; hallowed.” Each letter of Sanskrit alphabet is a bija, or seed mantra.

Mantras are Vedic in origin. Vedic chants or hymns of seers or rishis reflect the Cosmic Mind. Vedas are eternal and every mantra in the Vedas, Upanishads and various religious traditions begin with Om – the primordial sound, the sound heard for the first time when cosmos created.

While chanting a mantra care has to be taken for its proper pronunciationor else desired result will be missing harming the aspirant both physically and mentally. Mantras require utmostdevotion, faith and constant repetition.

Take the simple yet powerful Omand chanting it is said to harmonizephysical, emotional and intellectual forcesof the Universe giving a feeling of mentaland physical bliss. But the aspirant has to struggle to perfect this art of chanting even though it looks simple. Lot of patience and unfailing faithis required to get full results.

Hindu faith is linked to recitation of mantras. Faith and strong will can achieve one’s spiritual goals through mantras.Mantra basically is sound and reverberations of energy creating different levels of vibrations. Each vibration leads to a particular sound. Mantra therefore is a complex amalgamation of sounds and if used correctly brings a new experience of life within.

When sounds differ, it gives rise to different mantras. Every mantra activates a unique kind of energy in a particular part of the body. To understand this complex phenomenon awareness is needed and not mere repetition by rote that can lead to discouragement and a feeling of misery.Mantras have efficacy only when attempted with proper awareness of what it really is. For instance,Gayatri mantra is a well-known mantra which bestows splendid health, beauty, strength, vigour, vitality and magnetic aura in the face (Brahmic effulgence). Yet people have suffered damage to themselves by improperly reciting it.

What is Puja?

Any spiritual person with a set of organised beliefs will prayto God or the Almighty. If Hindus call it puja, Christians prayers, Muslims namaz.

Hindu form of worship is based on rites and rituals that occur throughout the year. Though different individuals based on their sect or caste may perform rituals differently all of them do agree in one God.

“Puja” comes from Sanskrit root, ‘P’, for ‘paap’ or sin, and ‘J’, for ‘janma’ or birth.  It also means reverence, homage, and worship. Hindu worship usually involves visiting temples. But most basic religious rites and rituals occur at home. Rituals vary in the day or evening. Sandhyavandanam is one such ritual where praying to Sun God is three times a day – sunrise, noon and sun setwhen last prayers are offered.

Usually in orthodox family’s women wake up before dawn, take bath and using rice flour put Rangoli at the doorstep for good luck and divine grace for the family. Thesedaily rituals end in prayers for both men and women. Prayers cannot be in abstract form and therefore when God(s) is worshipped the idol(s)have to be installed accordingly, called prathista. Puja is a ritual involving lighting of lamps, taking aarti with camphor, offering prasadam, reciting prayers and singing bhajans.

In South traditional Hindus priest at dawn recite Veda mantras at temples while for the householder it is the Gayatri Mantra offered as prayers thrice daily to the Sun – dawn, noon and dusk as mentioned earlier. In rural areas usually going to temples is more important where singing community bhajans or satsang is a ritual. Prayers does not mean interaction with God. It can also be to pitrus or deceased ancestors and is called tarpanam done every new moon day (Amavasya) and once a year as shraddh. It is anelaborate affair with homam (lighting the sacred fire) offering water and pindam(rice balls) to ancestors who supposedly bless and protect the householder and his family.

There can no prayer without devotion. Bhakti is fundamental to prayer and is basic tenet of Hinduism. Whichever God a Hindu chooses to worship it becomes his ishta devata (beloved God). Of course, there is no bar worshipping other gods and a Hindu is a polytheistby nature as he believes in more than one deity.

Puja for a layman is ritual offerings to god accompanied with prayers. It has puja vidhi (dos and don’ts according to one’s religion itself). Though a prayer is worship of a deity it can also mean disciplining the five physical senses that wanderaway from spiritual pursuit.

When prayers assume importance, priest come to help. Elaborate ceremonies like marriage or sacred thread ceremony need competent prieststo carry out the detailed procedures. The priests are treated at par with God and given offerings and gifts at the end of the ritual. Those attending the rituals are offered food.

Apart from daily pujas there are innumerable other pujas meant for different occasions viz.,a lady in seventh months of pregnancy, birth of a baby, thread ceremony, marriage, death, funeral and finally, the 13th day after death, a final farewell to the deceased. Later come the annual ritual of shraddh performed for peace and happiness of the departed soul.

Puja is a universal religious medium for all and an option of prayer for everyone.

Navagraha puja

Since ancient times Navagraha Puja has been a Vedic ritual for bestowing health, wealth, education, domestic peace and prosperity. Worshipping the nine planets viz.,Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rahu, and Ketuis a form of collective worship of the nine planets as per Vedic tenets.

These nine planets have lot to bearon what one achieves or fails to achieve and the fruits arising thereof from karmic activities. Natal chart of a person can show how these nine planets are disposed of. Indeed,planets being part of the solar systemaffect our lives. Though this sounds like a metaphysical argument, there is also the scientific reason with about planets influencing uswith their gravity and electromagnetismwhich can impact over long distances.

Every human life is therefore influenced and certain good or bad happenings result and affect various aspects of life such as love, marriage, career, finance, health. When planets work negatively in the horoscope they combine to form good &bad yogas. Bad yogas are ‘doshas’. Collectively they are called “Navagraha doshas.”

Planets leave their tell-tale effects and yet malefic doshas can be minimized by Navagraha Puja as it generates tremendous positive energy. All that is required is puja be done with devotion and sincerity of purpose adhering to rituals as specified. This brings peace and success in life.

Navagraha Puja has to be done on a special day (muhurat) taking the horoscope of the nativeinto account. In Navagraha homam mantras are chanted for all the nine planets for Graha Shanti(propitiation of planets) thereby bringing happiness, prosperity, winning over enemies, wealth and many more such benefits.

Benefits of Navagraha puja

  1. Subduing negative impact of planets
  2. Improving personal and professional life
  3. Protection from mental tension &physical ailments
  4. Avoiding sudden misfortunes
  5. Improving business prospects
  6. Promotionsand career prospects
  7. Attaining salvation