In this article, our temple head priest Shastri ji explains various rituals suggested by the scriptures and saints.
Ganesh Pooja (Pooja = Ritual):
In the Hindu scriptures, the elephant headed God, Ganesha is always worshipped in the beginning of any ritual; for his blessings to ensure that the whole procedure would move smoothly unhindered by any external obstacles at any stage.

The worship of Lord Ganesh involves sixteen steps. This is called Shodasha-upachara Pooja. All these steps are symbolical representations of the various forms of expressing reverence like offering the deity a golden throne to be seated, washing his feet, washing his hands, offering him water to drink, ceremonial bathing with sacred waters, offering new clothes, anointing him with sandal paste and other perfumes, adorning of jewels, worshipping with flowers, offering of fragrant incense, lighting the lamp, offering food (Prasad), fruits and sweet drinks, chanting his praises, offering Arati and finally prostrating to him and seeking his blessings. This Shodashopachara Pooja is done to all the important deities in every Pooja.
Sankalp (Determination):
This is like the heart of the whole ceremony. The entire ceremony depends upon the Sankalp or the strong will of the participants. Each ceremony is performed for a definite purpose and it is this purpose that the performer and participants clearly hold within their hearts as they take Sankalp.

The Sankalp mantra itself is a very clear declaration saying- According to the Indian Solar Calendar, in this particular year named thus (Indian astrology considers a cycle of sixty years with sixty distinct names), in this month, in this season, on this day of the brighter/darker phase of the moon, at a time when this particular constellation is ruling (each day is supposed to be ruled by one of the twenty seven important stellar constellations called Nakshatras); I am performing this particular homa to invoke and please this deity for this individual/family, who is/are born under this sign of the zodiac and ruled by this Nakshatra.
Kalash Pooja:
This is a very important step in any Pooja, because we invoke all the deities in Kalash. The Kalash is a pot filled with water. The mantra for Kalash has the following meaning;

Lord Vishnu resides in the Kalash at its mouth part, Lord Rudra in its neck, Lord Brahma at the bottom, and all the maatruganas(goddesses in the center). Inside of Kalash is the ocean, seven Islands, mother earth, four Vedas, Gayatri, Savitree, Shanti and the goddess who blesses with all health and prosperities.
A coconut is placed over the mouth of the Kalash and the coconut is surrounded by five or seven mango leaves. This Kalash is further decorated with flower garlands and a cloth is draped over it.

The Kalash is placed at the North- Eastern corner of the Havan Kund or the sacrificial pit. Shodashopachara Pooja is performed to the respective deities in the kalash.. Yet another significance of the Kalash is that it absorbs all the positive energies generated during the Havan and hence the divine water in the Kalash is sprinkled upon and distributed to the participants at the end of the Havan. This water becomes energized with all the divine energies and has immense healing power.

The Kalash is believed to contains Amrit (nectar) , the elixir of life, and thus is viewed as a symbol of abundance, wisdom, and immortality. The Kalash is often seen in Hindu iconography as an attribute, in the hands of Hindu deities like the creator Lord Brahma, the annihilator Lord Shiva as a teacher, and the goddess of prosperity Lakshmi.
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Canton, MI 48188-1001

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