The Hindu home shrine
Most Hindu have a small shrine in their home where they can worship daily. This worship is called ‘Puja’. The shrine will contain at least one image (called a murti) of their gods, for example, Ganesh or Krishna. These images help the Hindu to focus on different aspects of God. Each shrine will also contain a puja tray which holds some seven items. These are used in the worship. They help the Hindu to use all their senses when they worship, as a symbol that the whole person is taken up with the worship.
Pictures and Murtis (images) of gods

Ganesh

Krishna

Hindus believe in one God, yet many gods. They believe that there is one universal, invisible spirit called Brahman which is everywhere in the universe, including inside every living thing. However, God has shown himself to human beings in many different forms, both animal and human. These gods and goddesses help us to understand what God is like. Two such gods are Ganesh and Krishna. Hindus have images, called murtis, or pictures of one or more of the gods in their shrine. These help Hindus to think about God when they worship. By showing love and respect towards the murtis, Hindus believe that they are showing devotion and love to God.

Objects used in Puja (worship)

Bell

The worshipper will ring the bell to let God know that he has come to worship and to invite him into the home.

Diva lamp

The worshipper will light the lamp and move it around in circles to bring light to the shrine. This light is a symbol of God’s presence.

Incense holder and incense (joss sticks)

The worshipper will light the incense stick and move it around the shrine in circles. This purifies the air and brings a pleasing aroma to the shrine for the gods.

Water container and spoon

 

Water is offered to the gods on a spoon. This is to show respect to the gods. Traditionally, in India, people welcome a guest into the house by offering them water to drink and to wash. At the start of the day, the mother of the household will wash the images – again to show devotion and respect to them.

Container for kum kum powder

 

Worshippers will make a paste out of the red kum kum powder. They use this to make a mark on the forehead of the images. This is again a sign of respect and devotion to the gods. They will also make a mark on their own forehead as a sign that God has blessed them. (note the kum kum powder itself is not included, but you can use red paint powder).
Prashad
Worshippers offer food (e.g. fruit and rice) and flowers at the shrine for the gods to bless it. This blessed food is called ‘prashad’. It is later eaten by the worshippers.

For teaching/learning ideas on the Hindu home shrine and puja for young children, see the relevant chapter in the teachers’ notes and worksheets which accompany the big book ‘Awen’s Celebrations’ produced by the county.

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