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Descriptions of Different Types of Vedic Ceremonies

Descriptions of Different Types of Vedic Ceremonies

Water Ceremonies and Fire Ceremonies

Puja is a generic term which means worship, but generally puja means a water ceremony and yagna means a fire ceremony. In the listing below, puja is used as a generic term. Therefore, any of these ceremonies may be performed either as water or as fire ceremonies. Usually the fire ceremonies begin with a short water ceremony.
Water is representative the Spirit, which flows through all and is received from heaven, just as water flows downhill.
Fire flames up to heaven carrying our prayers to the highest levels. It is also the great purifier. For Great Initiations, ceremonies using water and fire are inferred in most of the texts on ceremonial worship.

Feminine Principles

Gayatri Puja

The Gayatri Mantra is nearly the universal mantra of the Far East. Practiced by both Hindus and Buddhists from a variety of sects, it is taught as the principal mantra for "Illumination of the Intellect." The long form of the Gayatri Mantra is used in this ceremony. Gayatri puja is done to aid in the journey to illumination.

Durga Puja

Sitting astride a tiger and holding a thousand instruments of destruction, Durga has a beatific countenance. She protects the righteous and destroys the demonic. It is said she is exquisitely beautiful to the devotee or seeker of truth and terrible to behold to the evil doers, both seen and unseen. Durga puja is performed to invoke protection as an active principle in one's life.

Lakshmi Puja

This is the Goddess of abundance of every kind. Abundance in this sense means love as wealth, peace as wealth, health as wealth, enough food to eat as wealth, children as wealth, and, of course, prosperity as well as any other form of abundance you can think of. Lakshmi is represented as either sitting or standing upon a lily pad with elephants on either side, trunks upraised. She is dressed in a gold and/or pink Sari. Gold coins are pouring from her slightly outstretched hands. Lakshmi puja is performed to promote abundance in life according to oneÂ’s need and desire.

Saraswati Puja

Holding the musical instrument, the vina, in one hand, and a string of prayer beads (japa mala) in the other, Saraswati is the shakti of spiritual knowledge. She has before her a stack of books, representing the scriptures where knowledge is revealed and recorded. Saraswati is propitiated through this ceremony for success in the arts and sciences, and spiritual pursuits of any kind.

Kwan Yin Puja

Kwan Yin is the feminine form of Avalokiteshwara. Alternately masculine and feminine throughout history, this Bodhisattva is the great benefactor most commonly propitiated by the mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum." Here the feminine mantra "Namo Kwan Shi Yin Pu Sa" is used in conjunction with puja mantras normally associated with propitiation of Avalokiteshwara. Kuan Yin puja is performed to invoke the dynamic principle of compassion.

Kameshwari Puja

Kama means desire. Eshwari means the supreme feminine principle. This puja helps to fulfill certain noble desires and lead one to the formation of higher, spiritual desires. Leading one to the Sacred Heart Center, whose root (seed) mantra is “Hrim,” this puja can produce feeling of joy as well as tangible power. Kameshwari puja invokes a particularly joyful and powerful form of the great feminine energy.

Masculine Principles

Ganesha (Ganapati) Puja

Traditionally, Ganesha is revered as the remover of obstacles in any endeavor. His mantra always appears prominently near the beginning of any puja performed in India, to insure that any obstacles to the ceremony are removed in advance. Tibetans do not follow this tradition.
With the body of a young boy and the head of an elephant, Ganesha is one of the more unusual aspects of Divinity found in the East. Red, Gold and Green are often associated with Ganesha, and the symbols surrounding him are the goad, which moves one ever onward on the spiritual path, and books where scriptures reveal aspects of Divine Truth. Ganesha Puja helps remove obstacles and invoke success in endeavors.

Dattatreya Puja

The first guru written about in the Vedic tradition was called Dattatreya, reputed to be the Guru of all the gurus. Although there are stories and legends describing this figure, it is not clear whether they are real or apocryphal.
The true teacher is within. Outer teachers and the Masters on the inner planes guide us ever closer to our divine nature. To the extent that any teacher is a clear and true reflection of our own nature, that teacher aligns us within. Hence, by any road, the true teacher lies within.
In that spirit, the Dattatreya Puja is a ceremonial propitiation of any teacher, either within or without. This ceremony has been used by certain groups of devotees to propitiate their specific teacher or guru either in the body or out. For other groups, the service has been used to propitiate the universal inner teacher that leads us on life upon life. Dattatreya puja is done to propitiate the spiritual teacher and preceptor, either as principle or to honor a specific teacher or guru.

Shiva Puja

Shiva is often referred to as the great masculine principle. However, Shiva is most completely represented as the energy of the Holy Spirit, both masculine and feminine, without form, and a consciously responding and sentient power. There is some correlation to the Fohat of the Esotericists. The Shiva Linga, often interpreted as phallic, is really the masculine and feminine conjoined in union. In fact, the earliest classical references to the icon call it a Yoni-Lingham (masculine-feminine), which is easily explained through examination of the common lingham that is provided for the ceremony.
Today, Shiva is often represented either as the Lingham or the Nataraja, also known as the "Dancing Shiva." Nataraja is a masculine figure with strikingly feminine overtones, with one foot lifted in a poise of dance. A large halo of flames surrounds the figure that is dancing on the body of a "negative force." This tableau represents the ongoing destruction/transmutation of the universe.
But even this destruction is misunderstood. Shiva, as the kinetic holy spirit, spiritualizes everything. The material universe cannot hold an infinite amount of spiritual charge. At some point in the spiritualizing process, the universe becomes so spiritualized that it undergoes a change of state. It is classical application of the principles of physics, or in this case, metaphysics. The material universe appears to be destroyed. But in fact, it has transcended to a higher state beyond the mere physical.
Shiva ceremonies promote health and expansion of consciousness.

Vishnu Puja

According to Vedic teachings, Vishnu is the only aspect of divinity that takes human form. In that sense, every spiritual teacher who has ever walked the earth embodies the principle of Vishnu, the Preserver. In the lore of India, certain great personalities have been described as Avatars or Incarnations of Vishnu.

Rama Puja

Rama, the perfect man, husband, king, son and his perfect wife, Sita, are nearly always propitiated together. This is a powerful healing ceremony in additional to invoking the spirit-quickening energy of the Avatar Rama.

Krishna Puja

Krishna is often called an incarnation of divine love. Promising to send aid even during Kali Yuga, the current spiritual winter, Krishna puja invokes the power of divine love into our life, whether in relationships or in the bhakti of spiritual devotion. Krishna puja moves in the twofold direction of liberation through contact with the divine self and through the principle of divine love.

Panduranga Puja

Panduranga Vittala is the name used in parts of southern India for the “coming one,” also called Kulki. This Avatar will be the 10th and final incarnation of Vishnu. It is assumed that there is one remaining crisis that we will be unable to overcome unaided. After that, our species will be advanced enough to mitigate whatever difficulties confront us. The legend of the coming one is approached in different ways in different religions. In Hinduism, there is no agreement as to when this avatar will appear. But most spiritual scholars and pundits assert that it will be approximately 427,000 in the future near the end of Kali Yuga.
This puja puts one in harmony with the energy of the Vishnu Avatars in general and the Kulki Avatar in particular. Those seeking to follow the path of empowered service will benefit greatly from this ceremony.

Avalokiteshwara Puja

The Great Bodhisattva Avalokiteshwara is the source of the Bodhisattva Vow, the quintessential recognition of service to others as part of the path to the supreme. The Mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum,” as well as its longer form, is used in this ceremony which, like the Kalachakra Ceremony, combines aspects of Tibetan and Hindu (Vedic) methods and mantras. This ceremony honors that great Being who has given us the Bodhisattva Vow and promotes spiritual progress by linking us with the power and fellowship surrounding the Mani Mantra.

Gender Neutral

Satya Narayana Puja

(Universal Puja of India - Takes Two Hours)

This puja can only be scheduled for an in-person ceremony, not in absentia.
The Divine Self within, the Universal Flame of Truth, is propitiated through the Satya Narayana Puja: the Universal Truth Worship in the Vedic Tradition. Satya Narayana is the threefold flame of the Esotericists, the divine Self of the Shaivites and the Divine Beloved of the Vaishnavites.
The Narayana Suktam, Purusha Suktam and Sri Suktam are used in this ceremony, as well as planetary mantras designed to reduce the effects of karma. A short story from the Skanda Purana (read in English) is also traditional. This puja takes slightly longer than the others. It is traditionally done for the fulfillment of noble desires.

Planetary Puja

(Karmic Reduction Puja -Takes Two Hours)

Of the four types of karma described in Eastern texts, Prarabdha Karma, the position of the planets at the time of our birth, is the one kind of karma that cannot be changed. But though this astrological DNA remains constant throughout our life, the way we receive planetary vibrations can, indeed, be changed. Using astotaras containing 108 mantras for each of the seven planets and the two karmic nodes of the moon, this ceremony can ease the way we are forced to deal with difficult planetary alignments and natal configurations. This puja is performed to soften and reduce planetary karma of all kinds.

Esoteric Prosperity Puja

(Three to Four Hours)

Everyone desires prosperity. There may be karmic periods where achieving economic prosperity is very difficult. The Esoteric Prosperity Puja is a complex and very effective Ganesha-Lakshmi puja with many mantras of several shaktis, Kubera, and especially Ganesha and Lakshmi, chanted prior to the abhisheka. There are two Ganesha Astotaras and one Lakshmi Astotara for the offering.

Special Custom Pujas

Custom pujas are occasionally designed and performed for a variety of purposes. If you have some difficulty or problem that does not appear readily addressed by one of the foregoing ceremonies, a custom puja can be prepared to address the situation.

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