FAQ: Rituals/ Practices

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Are Hindus idol worshippers?

Hindus are not idol worshippers, they don’t worship the idol as God but invoke God within the idol. All pujas and rituals always begin with inviting God from one’s heart to the idol. This God from within can then be worshipped as the idol. Hindus believe that God is that Infinite Consciousness that is formless and omnipresent, therefore it is hard for one to imagine something that is formless without being able to picture it. The images and idols of Hindu Gods help devotees to picture God in a form that as well as inspire virtuous qualities within ourselves.

Source: https://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=5667

What is the meaning of rituals?

Every Hindu ritual is connected to a specific value. Even in the 21st century, Hindus practice ancient rituals because they help followers forge a connection with fundamental values. Ultimately, these rituals are supposed to make an impact on our personalities. They should allow us to improve and consistently grow mentally and spiritually. There is always a reason for every religious action. Every Hindu ritual has a specific reason that it is being performed and relates to self-development. There are some examples of rituals below as well as the abstract values that they represent.

Touching the feet of parents is supposed to allow us to express our gratitude and keep the ego in check.

Hindus worship everything around them, especially nature. This is supposed to connect to the idea that everything on the planet has a purpose and that they should respect this. Hindus also believe that more needs to be given than taken. This means that it is important to recognize the existence of the surrounding environment in order to respect that environment rather than harm it.

Praying before eating is another ritual that increases gratitude and mindfulness. By praying before eating, Hindus are able to focus on their food rather than distractedly eating. They also appreciate the person who made the food and their own privilege in being able to consume it.

Source: https://www.chinmayamissionmumbai.com/chinmaya/42chinmayasadhanas/sadhana_38_hindu_culture

What is the meaning of puja?

The act of puja is an offering of one’s mind, body, thoughts, and actions to the Lord. Not only does it involve thinking of God, but also dedicating actions to God. A puja is performed in a similar way as one would invite a guest into their house. One would offer them a seat, water, bath, food, etc. Similarly, each step in a puja, is treating God as if He is a guest coming to one’s house.

Source: https://www.hinduwebsite.com/symbolisminpuja.asp

What is the significance of wearing bindi, chandan, kumkum, and vibhooti?

According to the book, 'Why Do We' by Sw. Vimlanandaji:

    • The 'Bindi' adorns the third eye, retaining and enhancing the energy of the ajna chakra which is where intellect is held.
    • 'Chandan' or sandalwood, represents that the body is temporary and like sandalwood, it too is made of earth, and will return to the earth when the body dies.
    • 'Vibhooti' or ash, also represents that the body is temporary and will die (turn to ash).

Why do we touch elders’ feet?

According to the book, 'Why Do We' by Sw. Vimlanandaji:

Touching feet is a sign that we recognize their age, wisdom, and divinity. It is a sign of recognizing and respecting their love and everything they did for us. Since we stand on our feet, it is a sign that we recognize the greatness that they personify. It also means that we admire the values that they stand rooted on and have lived throughout their life, and that we would like to get in contact with such values.

Why are there animal deities?

Hinduism worships all beings, and in ancient scriptures and epics, many deities and revered figures were also animals. Some examples include Hanuman ji (who has the form of a monkey) and Ganesh ji (who has the form of an elephant). Hinduism is also known for revering and worshiping cows (sacred cows like Nandi or the divine cow Nandini). Other prominent animal deities and figures are Jatayu and Jambhavan from the Ramayana era.

Source: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-asia/beginners-guide-asian-culture/hindu-art-culture/a/principal-deities-of-hinduism

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