Saturday, 7 May 2016

Aarti and Hinduism - some interesting facts

 Hindu devotees hold earthen lamps as they perform Maha Aarti ritual  in Shertha, near Ahmadabad,Gujarat. Ganesh Chathrthi festival. India. www.telegraph.co.uk
The Hindu ritual of aarti  (also spelled arthi) is a familiar one and it has its origin in the  ancient Vedic concept of fire ritual or the 'homa'. It is a Sanskrit term - "aa' meaning towards and "rati" meaning the highest love for God.  The Sanskrit word  Aaratrika, from which  Aarti is derived, means something that removes "ratri" - darkness  or light waved before an icon - supposedly an object of veneration. Light from the cotton wick soaked in ghee (purified butter) in a lamp  or camphor  is offered to the deity and it is part of the temple ritual through out India. Nowadays camphors are not allowed to use for aarti on the temple premises. When aarti is being shown to God, traditional devotional songs, in praise of the God or Goddess, are sung, sometimes in chorus. It is a mandatory ritual performed on all auspicious occasions of Hindu festivals and functions. Aarti is mostly performed by the Hindu married or unmarried women. Neither men nor widows are allowed to perform aarti.
Aarti plate en.wikipedia.org

Singing of devotional songs while performing aarti is a common feature  and it cuts across the social groups, regions and age of the people. In different parts of India, the aarti tradition being followed
may be different in style and purpose, but the fundamental aspect is the same through out the country.  Aarti songs personify the highest form of love for God. When god is worshiped by means of singing  devotional hymns  through Bhava or facial expressions and mild gestures, the devotee's attention is fully focused on God and there is no deviation from the path of Bakthi or reverence to God. Hence, the mind is transfixed on God and a sense of happiness permeates our body.  Performing Aarti - showing t he  light (from the oil lamp on the  aarti plate) improves worshipers' concentration. The plate on which Aarti is (oil light) is kept is called Aarti plate and normally the Aarti plate is made of metal - brass, or bronze, copper or silver. In rich temples the Aarti plates are mostly made of silver.

Tradition has it that the  aarati is done one to five times a day, at the conclusion of a puja, bhajan, etc.  The aarti thali, which contains diya, flowers, incense and akshata, is shown  in front of the deity and aarti song is sung by all people  present there. When aarti is performed before God, it is believed, that the plate and the light get blessed by the deity.
When  the priest,  shows  the aarti plate before the devotees or members assembled there, they put their hands over  the flame and then touch the forehead. This is a gesture of seeking the holy blessings from the deity.  


Some interesting facts:

01.Performance of Aarti is an important part in the Hindu society.  

02. It is performed either to ward off evil eyes or to seek the blessing of God if a person undertakes a challenging job or work. 

03. It is also performed when a person returns home after  long hospitalization. 

04. In all important festivals and social events including wedding, Graha Pravasam (moving into a new home) etc aarti is performed. 

05. When a newly wedded couple visit their parents' home for the first time, Aarti is positively done for their prosperous, happy married life and also for their longevity

06. Likewise, when a new residential or commercial plot is bought, aarti is performed along with regular pooja or prayer.

07. It is significant to perform aarti when a mother comes home with her new-born baby right from the hospital. 

08. When the temple idols (Urcchavars) are taken out for procession, aarti is performed on the temple premises before and after the end of procession. 

09. In temples and in many places aarti is waved in circular motion - clockwise around the deity in full circle. It is symbolic of the primary role taken by the Almighty who forms the center stage and we, humble human beings, enjoy His  divine bliss and grace in close proximity with him.

10. Aarti can be performed before animals like cows and also before inanimate objects like motor vehicles, tractors, factory machines, etc.
Aarti on the banks of the ganges. www.thehindu.com
Aarti is simply an expression of love, devotion gratitude, etc. Thus performance of Aarti in the Hindu society means everything. It is believed that it brings to the families  prosperity, peace of mind, good health and longevity and,  by the same token, it (light) drives away ignorance and arrogance and instills humility and confidence. Most importantly aart produces positive thoughts that will keep us energized to reach our goals in our lives. 

Ref:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aarti