Of Homas and Yagnas

It has been a memorable dassera for me as I got to perform the Chandi Yagna at the Sanatan Hindu Union temple on Vijayadasami day. As I was participating my mind went back to how our religion has so many wonderful events like these to purify our body and uplift our soul. These are meant to help us especially householders and professionals who lead busy lives to pause and think of the divine. The word Ritual itself is from the Latin word ritualis meaning doing something. Since the Vedic times, our religion has stressed the importance of doing rituals as they help in binding the community and giving each one, a sense of belonging. Those days there were no get-togethers and social dos, instead events like these conducted in temples and common places helped people to meet, greet and connect with one another. Rituals appeal to tradition and we have well-defined practices which are passed on to generations. Some rituals have a deeply symbolic significance woven around it. We have family rituals, social rituals and those that are common for an entire group or race or religion.

Homas are those that are performed at home periodically in a small scale like the ganapathy homa, sudarshana homa, ayush homa etc  which are conducted on birthdays and anniversaries for the immediate well-being of the family.

Then there are yagas which are conducted on a large scale in a grand manner in a public place like a temple for the wellbeing of the community. And then there are yagnas like the Athirudra mahayagna which are conducted on an even larger scale for the sake of peace and well-being of the entire world. The Vishnu Sahasranama says that the lord is the yagna, he is the receiver of oblations, he is the one who conducts, he is the one who blesses, thus he is everything. So with this spirit if a yagna is conducted, then the blessings of the lord will definitely be there on all those who are conducting and witnessing these noble events.

Tung, tung, tung, the ringing of the bell for the arathi brought me back to the temple and I looked on enchanted.