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For this assignment, I have chosen one of the most popular Hindu rituals – Shiva to Puja. The essay will be divided into two parts. The first part will contain description of the ritual. In the second part of the essay, the analysis part, I will claim that Rudolf Otto explains the origins of the ritual the best.
Shiva puja is a ritual worship of Shiva in the form of Shiva-linga.
One will need:
- clean drinking water in the quantity one needs, depending on the duration of the puja - from a glass to a few buckets;
- bowl or any other dishes, they will drain water and other liquids that you will pour on the linga;
- melted butter;
- sweetened water;
- little grains of rice;
- leaflet with some plants;
- flower, better white but yellow, orange or red is also nice;
- incense sticks;
- oil lamp - pour a little oil on a plate, fold the wick of cotton, half-immersed in an oil wick, ignite the free end;
- food - fruits, sweets, any fresh vegetarian food that nobody ate before puja;
It is not necessary to collect everything for the Puja ritual. It is enough if there is anything from the list. Minimum set is: Ling and water.
Preparing for the Puja
Worshiping Shiva must be clean. Ideally one should have clean thoughts too. Basically, one should at least wash oneself and change into clean clothing. If one is on the road, or has no facilities, it is necessary to wash one’s hands and feet.
Before worshiping Shiva, one should sit in front of Shiva-linga and clean the place. To do this, touch the floor with both hands and repeatedly read the mantra. Thus, you mentally ask Shiva to clear the surrounding area so that nothing would prevent the puja.
Tune in to the puja. One can make 5 minutes Nadi shodhana pranayama, or 108 times chanting.
(If there is ash-Vibhuti.) The three fingers of the right hand at the same time apply on the forehead 3 horizontal stripes-vibhuti ash;
(If there is a rudraksha.) Wear rudraksha.
Clean water for the puja. To do this, cover a cup of water with both hands (you will be uncomfortable to pour from the large dishes) and read the mantra several times. Mentally ask Shiva to purify the water.
All the while repeat the mantra. Pour water on the linga (but not all, one will need more). Then pour milk, yogurt, butter, honey and sugar water on the linga (if these offerings are available). Wash everything away from linga with the water, and wipe it away. Smear with ashes linga and Gandhi. (Do not forget to read the mantra.) Sprinkle rice with linga. Offer Shiva (i.e. put on a linga) leaf and flower. Perfume linga with incense sticks. Show linga lit oil lamp. Ring the bell. Offer food to Lord Shiva. After that, it is appropriate to meditate on the linga, repeat the mantra 108 times or more, pray, and sing bhajans ... One can turn any Saivite mantras or bhajans and sing along. Similarly, one can include a recording of Shatarudrii, Purushasuktam or 108 names of Shiva and perform puja for such support.
Completion of Puja
Wash away linga with the water. Wipe linga, put vibhuti on it and put it away until the next Shiva to Puja worship.
After the Puja
Food and water used in puja are considered sanctified after the rite. Such food after puja is called "Prasad" and the water that poured onto linga is called "paduka." After the ritual, a meal should be eaten with the appropriate attitude to it, or one should treat those close to himself. Besides, one can drink the water or use it for cooking. Pour the puja water into the sewer would be disrespectful to the consecrated water.
Shiva to Puja is the ritual which is used to worship not only Shiva. In some cases, the ritual may take up to five hours. In the description, it is obvious that water is the main ingredient in the ritual. Water and clean mind are the things that make the ritual more spiritual than other Hindu rituals. Water helps not only clean one’s hands or body, its gentle flow helps clean one’s mind and thoughts too.
In this case, I suggest that Rudolf Otto was right when explaining the origins of religions. He stated that every religion is based on the idea that there is something “mysterious” in it. In this case, it is obvious that Shiva to Puja ritual is based on this theory. The point is that one cannot explain exactly how water and linga worship Shiva. On the other hand, one beliefs that the ritual makes one’s spirit purer. Rudolf Otto suggested that a person should feel not only something mysterious, but also spiritual in religion. Shiva to Puja ritual is a spiritual tradition, as well. The point is that the time spent on it, a person will devote for understanding oneself. Mantras are considered a good way to understand one’s soul.
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The assignment required me to study Shiva to Puja ritual and prove that Rudolf Otto was right stating that every religion has a “mysterious” base. The studies of the ritual helped me to find this to be true.