Mala, a medical student, said “I look forward to attending poojas. I find tremendous joy in participating in poojas. I enjoy the atmosphere and I always have a feel good experience.” Dave, a videographer, said “I attend a mandir every Sunday. My task is to organize the pooja and I enjoy it very much. It is the best experience in my life,” said Dave who is currently training to be a pandit.
Pooja is akin to thanksgiving, that is, saying thanks to the divine for all that have been bestowed upon us. “Everything that sustains life-the five elements, the senses, the intellect and our physical body – is derived from the divine. Pooja is a way of saying thanks to the divine for the many gifts of life,” said Pandit Kumar of Endeavour.
Pandit Kumar continued: “Pooja is also an attitude of mind. It is the offering of our words, thoughts and deeds to the divine. If this attitude is adopted in our daily life, it would mean that all our actions would generate goodwill, peace and harmony.
Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita that that whatever you do, let it be an offering unto Me. It means that the devotee no longer lives for himself. This is best exemplified in the life of Sri Hanoman whose entire life was in service to Sri Ram. He was not interested in pearl necklaces but to live in the presence of the divine and he demonstrated it by opening his chest to reveal the presence of the divine.
Hinduism calls on mankind to see the presence of the divine in his creation-Siya Ram mai sab jag jani. The five daily worship or panch yagnas are designed to help us to realize this state of consciousness through service. The panch yagnas are as follow: worship of the gods, worship of the rishis, worship of the ancestors, worship of mankind and worship of plants and animals.
Chanting mantras at the altar or silently as one goes about one duty should develop into a habit. We should also take time to visit the mandir and join in congregational singing with fellow Hindus. Many Hindus also fast for three weeks and engage in pooja with a pandit officiating. More importantly is for Hindus to know their mantras and bhajans and set aside at least 15 minutes for worship in the morning and evening.
Worship of the rishis is done by reading the scriptures. Hindus must read the Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Srimad Bhagavatam and the many Upansihads and Puranas. By reading the scriptures we become knowledgeable of the exploits of our gods and goddesses. For example, reading the Ramayana provides knowledge of the exploits of Rama, Lakshmana, Sita and Hanuman and their encounter with the demonic Ravana.
Worship of the ancestors is an opportunity to say thanks to our deceased ancestors for all that they have done for us. Pitri Paksh is a forth night dedicated to the worship of the ancestors. Also, Indian Heritage Month (May) is an opportunity to reflect on the many sons and daughters who have struggled for us to have a better life today. Public figures such as Bhadase Sagan Maraj, Doon Pandit, Chanka Maharaj, Pandit Jankie Persad Sharma, Adrian Cola Rienzi, Uriah Buzz Butler, etc were among the many that struggled to give us a better chance to survive and flourish
Hindus also need to reach out to the poor and dispossessed in our community. Institutions such as orphans’ homes, hospitals, schools and credit unions can be developed to assist the community to lift its members out of poverty and dependency. Technology schools need to developed to ensure that our children have a detailed and thorough knowledge and the right attitude to get any task done.
Seva TT is an organization that is working to bring reliefs to desperate members of the community who have lost their jobs or fallen ill or have become dependent on drugs. Drug rehab centers must be constructed and managed to address these challenges that are affecting so many families. Diabetes, heart attacks and strokes have reached pandemic levels in the Hindu community and should not be ignored.
Worship of the environment including the plants and the animals is integral to pooja. This is well demonstrated by our worship of the cow, the most life sustaining animal in the world. With the threat of global warming and its negative impact on human existence, Hindu thoughts and practices on the environment are more relevant today. Hindus need to demonstrate that knowledge by taking the initiative to practice recycling, reusing and other strategies to keep a healthy environment.
Let us as Hindu make our life a daily pooja by offering all our thoughts, words and action at the feet of the divine.