Vedic traditions of Hindu Dharma prescribes an elaborate set of
daily and periodic rituals to be performed for God, Its manifestations,
Celestial forces, nine planets, angels and also the departed souls
of our ancestors. Here, in our traditions, the direction of East
where the Sun raises is the direction for God, North is for the
Celestial forces and angels and South is for our Ancestors. The
study of the scriptures and performances of the Vedic ritual are
as important as the performance of one's Dharma or duty.
Vedic rituals performed are called nithya karma like the sandhya
rituals, various Yajñas and Sanskaras. All these Karma
have an important effect on our family, our future births and
ultimate liberation from the Samsara or cycle of rebirth. Rituals
of sandhya and sanskara are prayers offered to the gods through
water, fire and Sun. Sandhya are the most important Vedic rituals
that a Hindu is expected to perform in the house every day, three
times a day, at dawn, noon and at dusk.
are rituals offered to Vedic Gods. The Vedic gods are the custodians
of our social well-being and only from our sacrificial oblations
in Yagnas they draw their sustenance. The Pancha-Maha Yajnas
which are important include Brahma Yajna, as prayers to the Supreme
and other Celestial Gods; Deva Yajna as study of Texts and teaching
others of the Divine messages, Pitri Yajna for ancestors and Sages,
Bhutha Yajna as service to all plants and animals and Manushya
Yajna to fellow men. There are fifty-two Sanskãras which
are listed as rituals performed at home, of which ten are important.
There are also funerary rituals and srardha ceremonies which are
rituals to ancestors performed by family members.
Hindu Temples, an Icon or Moorthy in the likeness of a manifestation
of God is ceremonially installed for our daily prayers following
the rules established in Ãgama Texts. The powers of the
Divine force reside in the Moorthy at all times after installation
and daily prayers are to be offered by ordained priests. The Hindu
Temple is considered like the palace of the Gods who reside there
permanently with all the Divine powers. In home prayer services,
the prayers are offered to Ishta Devathas in a prayer room or
a temporary altar with one or many pictures or small vigrahas
representing the manifestation of God. Here Sasthra rules are
time the prayer service is offered, an initial sankalpam is performed.
The Divine powers residing inside our heart or the self is brought
forth and requested to temporarily reside in the Prathima for
the benefit of prayer. At the end of the rituals It is taken back.
Devotees, who do not have the knowledge or the Adhikãra
to perform such rituals, perform some simple Bhakthi prayer services.
Most others, without the full knowledge or the Adhikãra,
also follow the rules of Deepa Puja to a lamp, or prayer service
in other forms.