Monday, 13 August 2012

Shodasha Pooja Vidhana - An Introduction

“Shodasha upachara pooja” is a standard practice in temples and also at home on special occasions.
The worship of God  involves sixteen steps. This is called Shodasha-upachara Pooja.  This is a standard practice in temples as well as homes on all special occasions. 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 (Prasada), fruits and sweet drinks, chanting his praises, offering Arati and finally prostrating to him and seeking his blessings.

The following is the meaning and a brief explanation of the 16 steps:
1. Dhyanam (prayer)
Dhyanam is reciting a short prayer specific to god that one worships and engage our mind into lotus feet of that god.
In the Hindu scriptures, the Lord 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.

So, these upacharas are done to Lord Ganesha and then all steps are repeated for the Worshipped/main deity.

2. Avahana invocation
 Inviting the worshipped God to come into the place of worship or idol.  

3. Aaasana (offering seating)
Offering the worshipped God a seat.

4. Paadya (washing of feet)
 Wash the feet of God by pouring water at His feet.

5. Arghya (washing of hands)
Water is offered so the deity to wash hands

6. Aachamana (Offering water to drink)
Water is offered to drink

7. Snana (bathing with water or panchamruthas)
Sprinkle water on God as if giving Him bath. In a detailed pooja bath God with panchamrutham (Milk, Yoghurt, Ghee, Honey, Sugar, Coconut Water, Fruit Juice, Sandal Powder, Turmeric one at a time)

8. Vastra (new clothes), Abharana
 Offer new clothes, Jewellary 
9. Yajnopavita (sacred thread)
 Offer Yajnopaveetham(sacred thread/flower/akshathas)

10. Gandha (sandal paste)
 Place sandalwood paste on the forehead of God
11. Archana (flowers)
Glorify God by reciting His 108 names, separate for every God, and offer one flower or a petal at a time, like offering flowers/flower petals to Lord Venkatesha and Lakshmi Devi, Lord Shiva and Parvati Devi.
12. Dhoopam (incense)
Show incense to God to fill His body with fragrance. Also, signifies one soul aspiring to reach God.
13. Deepam (Oil lamp)
Show oil lamp to god symbolizing bringing of light into one’s place and life.
14. Naivedyam (offering of specially prepared food).
Offer specially prepared food to God. This food must be prepared cleanly in separate utensils, other than in what we eat, and without tasting beforehand.
15. Tamboolam (offering Betel Leaves and Betel nuts)
Betel leaves and betel nuts are offered to God after the Naivedhyam.
Water in a pot, (Kalasha) sanctified by invoking the names of seven sacred rivers of India namely Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Saraswathi, Narmada, Sindhu, Kaveri, is used for worship.

Gange cha Yamune chaiva Godavari Saraswati,

Narmade Sindhu Kaveri jalesmin sannidhim kuru

In this water, I invoke the presence of holy waters from the rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Saraswati, Narmada, Sindhu and Kaveri.

16. Neerajanam
Camphor lamp is shown to God.

The pooja ends with another service called “Manthra Pushapa” in which a devotee offers handful of flowers to God finally glorifying Him.
Pooja is based on Mantras (hymns) and is focused on concentrating on sounds.
In the end, devotees say the following manthra
kayena vaacha, manasendriyairva
 budhyatmana va prakriter swabhavat
 karomi yad yad sakalam parasmai
 narayanayeti samarpayami.

Translation: Whatever I do with my body, speech, mind or with other senses of my body, or with my intellect and soul or with my innate natural tendencies I offer (dedicate) everything to Lord Narayana.
Additionally Namaskra, Atma Pradakshina, Samarpana, Kshamarpana, Theertha prasada are also important steps apart from the above Shodashopachara pooja.


  1. Dear Ms.Archana,

    You are doing good. Please continue to give more information. I see that this particular page is not updated since Aug' last year.
    All the very best for this blog.
    kind regards,

  2. very informative, request you to give mantras for all steps