1. The Ganges: Offering Light to the Gods

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    Aarti is a Hindu religious ritual of worship in which light from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) is offered to one or more deities. Elaborate celebrations are also common.

    Arti: The Hindu Ceremony of Light

    The arti (pronounced ‘aarti’) is one of the most important and popular ceremonies of the Hindu faith. It is a prayerful ceremony performed in extolled greeting and thanksgiving of the Deities where devotees are reminded of God’s glorious presence and providence.

    Origin
    The arti ceremony is said to have descended from the ancient Vedic concept of fire rituals, or homa.

    Others attribute it to the practice many centuries ago of illuminating a murti set deep inside the dark recess of a mandir’s cave-like inner sanctum. To allow devotees darshan of the sacred image, the priest would wave an oil lamp from the Deity’s head to toe while chanting Vedic mantras or singing a prayer. Gradually, the practice developed into the arti.

    The arti sung within the Swaminarayan tradition was composed by Muktanand Swami, one of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s most senior and learned sadhus, when Bhagwan Swaminarayan was only 21. Learn more about it here.

    Meaning
    In Sanskrit, the word ‘arti’ – written as ‘aarati’ – is composed of the prefix ‘aa’, meaning complete, and ‘rati’, meaning love. The arti is thus an expression of one’s complete and unflinching love towards God. It is sung and performed with a deep sense of reverence, adoration, and meditative awareness.

    Practice
    Often called the ‘ceremony of light’, the arti involves waving lighted wicks before the sacred images to infuse the flames with the Deities’ love, energy and blessings. It is performed by sadhus (Hindu monks) and pujaris (attendants to the Deities). Continue reading


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