Hindu temples are sacred places of worship that has beautiful shrines of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Every day the deities are worshipped with special rituals and practices. People who visit the Hindu temples are expected to follow certain rules to respect the tradition that has been followed in the sacred places.
Here are 5 important things to know about Hindu temple before you enter them for worship:
1. Temple Etiquette
Most of the Hindu temples are several thousand years old and have been worshiped by many since then. Each temple has certain norms to be followed by people who enter the sacred space. Although all the Hindu temples are open to public, it is recommended to understand the etiquette to be followed in a temple before you enter them. Knowing the temple rules can help one relish the sacred energy of the temple space with an open mind and connect with the Divine.
Many temples stress the fact that the devotees who enter the temple should be clean and dressed decently. One must avoid wearing shorts or revealing attire. Some temples may emphasize on men being shirtless before entering the temple and to wear clothes such as Dhoti.
Temples are considered homes of Gods and hence, one is required to remove their shoes or sandals before he or she enters the sacred spot. Some temples can have designated places to leave your footwear before getting into a temple. Nowadays, it is also required for the devotees to leave their mobile phones in counters before entering the temples, to avoid any distractions and focus their minds and hearts on their prayers.
People also usually ring the brass bells hung at the entrance in most of the Hindu temples. Once prayers are done, both men and women usually prostrate on the ground in front of the main shrine of the temple as a sign of their respect, humility, and surrender to the Divine. One can also take an offering such as flowers, fruits, or coconuts to the deity, while you visit the temple.
2. Worship Procedure
Hindus consider temples as more than just places of worship. They are considered sacred places to satiate a person’s 5 senses and help connect experience the positive vibrations of the temple and submit your prayers. In a Hindu temple, there are several statues called Murtis of the main deity and many other deities arranged in a particular order around the temple area. By having a physical form of the God to worship to, it becomes easier and effective for a person to worship to the archetypes.
The Murtis or statues are sculpted by following specific guidelines laid down and followed for several centuries by skilled artisans. The statues are installed at specific spots by performing special Poojas and procedures. During a Pooja, a Vedic priest offers flowers, fruits, incense, water, and lamp (Aarti). These traditions and procedure can vary with each Hindu temple. After the Pooja, the items are distributed to the devotees as Prasad. In a temple, the God’s form can be seen; the offered flowers and incense can be smelled; the water and Aarti light can be felt; the food offering can be tasted; and the sound of the sacred chants and the bell that is rung during Pooja can be heard. Hence, during a Pooja in a Hindu temple, all the 5 senses of a person can become uplift a person spiritually.
3. Sacred Mantras Chanting
In many Hindu temples, sacred mantras from Vedas and other texts are chanted by the priests for the deities while making offerings and performing Aarti. However, mantra meditation is performed by groups of devotees. This congregation is usually guided by a spiritual Guru, for understanding the meaning and effects of a Vedic mantra is essential before chanting the sacred sounds. This chanting can calm the mind and positively transform the person’s life.
The Sanskrit word, mantra means ‘man’ means mind and ‘tra’ means deliverance; hence, mantra can deliver the mind from worry and sufferings. While chanting the mantras, they are chanted for particular number of times by counting beads tied on a thread, while in meditation. Mantra chanting is a powerful mode to purify words, thoughts, attain inner peace, and happiness. In many Hindu temples, Bhajans or devotional songs are sung during special events and festivals in groups led by a devotional singer or priest.
4. Home Temples
Though temples are usually considered places of worship to visit, temples can also be constructed at homes. Some people set up a small place of worship in a spare room or space in their houses and also allow public to have Darshan of the deity. These can be regarded as temples in homes and can have an altar and the idols of the Gods/Goddesses based on the capacity and interests of the individual. One of the main advantages of having a temple at home is the easy accessibility to a special place of worship and meditation. When this space is shared with people for worship, it is sure to give an immense satisfaction, peace of mind, and happiness.
5. Spiritual Practice & Guidance
Visiting a temple can help one enjoy the positive and Divine aura and thus kindle the spirituality from within and connect with the absolute. Daily spiritual practice or Sadhana at public temples or temples at home can help improve focus and concentration, inculcate self-discipline, and experience inner bliss with the blessings of the Divine. Seeking spiritual guidance from a Guru or spiritual leader can open up your mind to accept the challenges and opportunities you come across and move ahead in life with a clear mind and a happy heart. Hearing to spiritual lectures and stories with their inner meaning can have profound impact on your thinking and help progress in life by applying the lessons learnt from them. When one keeps it a practice to worship God every day, it gives a sense of support and protection to overcome hurdles in life and attain success in endeavors.