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As with other religions, temples are above all the meeting places of God or gods and people. They have always also been places of representation of their own environment and culture. Even in urban planning, temples have long been taken up in India   account.


From the builder, whether he was a ruler, a private person, or some community, is  building a temple always  required major financial sacrifices. The temple itself can be kept  as a sacrificial gift to the gods / God, after all, temples are houses of God, houses where God / gods live, where people come to meet and worship them.


The temple is sacred when the priests have performed the dedication ceremony of the temple and the consecrated images and statues of the gods have been set in place.  Hindu temples are usually dedicated to one "main god" of the temple, but  in the temple  other Hindu deities are also worshiped.

















Photo: Christopher Victory  CCBY-SA 3.0  Lakshmana Temple in India          

Future  the temple is carefully designed according to the rules given in the scriptures and according to the universe doctrine of Hinduism. The floor plan resembles a mandala. The key is the circle  and square spaces. The middle square of the temple (= the core of the universe) is dedicated to the rule of the god Brahma. Around this square is the outer perimeter of the main gods and 32 lesser gods. These represent the human world. At the corners of this circle stand the dikpalas (groups of gods), of which there are four. They guard the four major air directions of the universe. Through these circles, worshipers fall towards the sanctuary of the temple  items. Pilgrims can walk in the colonnade built around the sanctified area of the temple. Usually the temple area is surrounded by high walls designed to delimit a peaceful place for people and gods.

 Photo: Pixabay Jason Goh

Meeting the gods  in the temple 

The believer can practice devotion in the Mandiras either alone or  together with others (puja)


Before coming to the ladder, the worshiper washes himself thoroughly clean, for he must also be physically clean when performing rituals.  Upon entering the temple, he rings the bell, to attract the attention of the gods. He brings with him sacrificial gifts to please the gods, which can be flowers, incense, food, gheets (worship is then called arati), or money. He places his gift in front of idols or statues. In large temples, temple priests can assist. The believer reads prayers.   The priests are in front of the altars and accordingly give the worshiper already sacrificed and blessed sacrificial gifts (Prasada) and make a mark on the forehead of the worshiper made of red powder or ash (tikka mark)

Puja, or group devotional practice in the temple  can take three forms:

  1. Singing of Bhajan or Hymns, which includes the ringing of bells and tambourines, some participants may dance, the priest reads an excerpt from Bhagavadgita  and finally reads the prayer of peace.

  2.   Arti's welcome delivery: the priest puts 5 candles on the tray, which means five   elements: fire, earth, air, ether and water. Believers keep their hands above the flames, then on their heads to receive the power and blessing of God for themselves.

  3. Hawan means sacrificing fire. It uses wood, camphor and cow or  buffalo milk fat. The priest transfers the fire to the altar, which symbolically represents God  a mouth that swallows the victim placed in front of it. Excerpts from the Votes are then read, followed by a ceremonial washing of the priest and other participants, which  symbolically means their purity before God.

In the evening, the last ceremony is a bedtime ceremony performed by a priest, where the priest takes the statues of gods to be washed first as the drums and bells ring and then to sleep next to his spouses.

Devotion can be practiced   daily also at the home altar in your own home.

Sources: Jordan Michael, Oriental Wisdom pp. 52-53

       Clarke PeterB, World Religions Foundations of Living Faith p.139

       Keene Michael: The Great Religions of the World p.22-23

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