How to do a Pooja

Pooja place: In a temple you should have the deities installed on a raised platform where the priest and the devotees have access to the idol. This should be the inner sanctum. An outer sanctum where people dressed properly and wearing clean shoes can sit on benches during the proceedings. This is more suitable in colder regions. However in India temples do not have an outer sanctum. Everybody must leave their footwear outside.

In a house you must have a raised platform where you want to do your prayers. The height of the platform depends on whether you want to sit and pray or stand and pray. The platform should be at a height where you can fold your hands and pray.


  • First you must be physically clean. Take a complete shower and wear clean clothes. You must not wear any footwear. You must leave the footwear outside the temple’s sanctum in warm countries and wash your feet if it is dirty. If you are praying at home you mark the area where you cannot bring footwear.
  • In colder climates where this is not possible, you can wear socks or clean house shoes without heels. People in the inner sanctum will sit on the floor cross legged during the proceedings. Chairs can be allowed for people who need it.
  • In the outer sanctum you can wear shoes but must have a special area to receive blessings/prasadams. Anyone wearing shoes is not allowed into the inner sanctum.

Items needed for Performing a Pooja (worship):

  • An idol of Lord Ganesha. You always start any Poojas or activities by first praying to Lord Ganesha (Ganapati)
  • The idol or photo of the deity you want to do Pooja to. You might want to do a navagraha (9 planets) Pooja or pray to any of the presiding deities to get relief from their afflictions or simply to have their divine blessings.
  • Items required:
    • Agarbatti (Incense sticks)
    • Oil lamp (normal cooking oil). For Sani poojas you need sesame oil.
    • Kumkum
    • Handful of wet rice mixed with Turmeric to make it yellow in a small bowl.
    • Pushpa (Flowers), Phala (fruits), Gandha (Fragrance), Piece of cloth to drape the deity.
      • Flower wreaths (at least 5) can be made by stringing a few flowers.
      • Betel Leaves and Betel nuts.
    • Naivedyam (Food offering to the deity). A favorite food may be cooked and offered to the deity first in a small platter. After the prayers are over the food can be partaken as prasadam by all the devotees. Anything edible and do not contain any meat, can be offered as Naivedyam
    • Coconut
    • A glass or goblet of water with a spoon or a mango leaf or a beetle leaf in it. This will be used for sprinkling water on deity and self. An empty goblet to receive the washed water.
    • Camphor on a plate
    • A bell
    • Danam (alms or offering). Should be money (odd numbers example 1, 11, 101 etc.) and Vastra (clothes). This is supposed to be given to the person performing the Pooja for you after you touch their feet and take their blessings.
    • Teertham
      • Can be a bowl (copper, silver or brass if possible) of water with Holi basil leaves for Lord Vishnu
      • Water with Bael leaves (wood apple) for lord shiva
      • Or make Panchamrut (mix equal quantities of Milk, Yogurt, Honey, Sugar Candy, Butter oil). Sugar Candy is also called Jaggery or Gud. Butter oil is called Pure ghee or clarified oil.
Pooja process

There are many ways to do the poojas. Nothing is cut in stone. If any of the listed items are not available, it is Ok not to have it. In this exercise we will attempt to do a basic Pooja.

  1. Make sure the deities are clean and polished.
  2. Light the oil lamp and fold your hands and pray to the deepam (the oil lamp). Next take the kumkum and put a finger mark on the 4 cardinal sides of the lamp.
  3. Purify your body, speech and mind. With your left hand Take a spoon of water put it on the cupped palm of your right hand and sip it three times reciting the mantras each time
    1. Om anantayanamaha 
    2. Om Govindayanamaha
    3. Om achyutayanamaha
  4. Take a flower and offer it to the lord with love.

Turiyagunasampannam, nana gunamanoharam |

Ananda saurabham, pushpamgrhyatam, idamuttamam ||

(O lord accept this flower for its pleasing qualities with great pleasure

5. Put the kumkum on Ganesha’s forehead just between the eyes where the nose begins. Invite the god to come and take his place in the idol.

6. Put Kumkum on your forehead (for women) or between the pair of eyes for men.

7. Light the Agarbatti (incense sticks) and wave your hand in a circular motion at all the deities so that the incense smoke fills the puja area and sanctifies it. Put the incense stick on a stand. If you do not have a stand you can push the other end on a banana or a half cut potato etc so that the aggarbatti’s  (incense sticks) stand upright in front of the deity.

8. DhyaanamSamarpayami                       (Think or meditate on the deity )

9. AawaahanamSamarpayami     (Offering invitation the deity)

10. AasanamSamarpayami                          (Offer a seat to the deity )

11. PaadyamSamarpayami                          (offer water to wash the feet, Pour water from a spoon using your left hand and let it slide through your  palm into the empty goblet

12. ArghyamSamarpayami                          (offer water to wash the hand. Pour water from a spoon Using your left hand and let it slide through your  palm into the empty goblet)

13. amaneeyamSamarpayami         (offer water to drink. Pour water from a spoon      Using your left hand and let it slide through your  palm into the empty goblet .


14. SamSamarpayami                          (Give bath to the deity. Sprinkle water on the lord using the dipped leaf)

15. AbhishekamSamarpayami        (main head bath. Sprinkle water on the lord using the dipped leaf)

16. Pratishtaapayaami                                   (make Him/Her seated )

17. VasthramSamarpayami                         (Offer clothes to the deity )

18. YajnopaveethamSamarpayami          (Offer the Holy Thread to the deity. Lay a thread across the shoulders of the lord. Going across the left shoulder and head to the right side of the body. )

19. GandhamSamarpayami                         (offer sandle-wood paste/powder on the idol or image )

20. AkshathamSamarpayami                      (Offer Akshatha to the deity. Leave some Akshata over the deities )

21. PushpamSamarpayami                          (Offer flowers to the deity )

22. AshthothtraPoojamSamarpayami    (Recite  the Holy 108 names of the deity )

23. Astotra Recital Offer flower/petals/akshatalu for every line of recitation.

24. DhoopamAaghraapayaami                  (offer agarbatti. Cup your right hand and fan the incense smoke towards the deity )

25. DeepamDarshayaami                             (offer light. Use your cupped right hand to blow the Light towards the deity.)

26. NeivedyamSamarpayami                     (Offer food to the deity. Use your cupped right hand and fan the aroma of the food towards the deity)

27. PhalamSamarpayami                              (Offer Fruits the deity Use your cupped right hand and fan the aroma of the food towards the deity)

28. TaamboolamSamarpayami                  (offer beetle nut and leaves. Use your cupped right hand and fan the aroma of the food towards the deity)

29. DakshinamSamarpayami                      (Offer money to the deity)

30. MahaNirajanamSamarpayami            (the main aarati. Light the camphor on the plate and wave the plate clockwise towards the deities while you ring the bell with your left hand. ). At this time other devotees come forward to take the divine blessings by cupping their hands over the flame and touching their eyelids. They may also put some money on the plate as danam.

31. PradakshinamSamarpayami                (taking clockwise rounds in front of the deity)

32. NamaskaramSamarpayami                  (offering prostrations )

33. Mantra PushpamSamarpayami          (offering both incantations and flowers )

34. PraarthanaamSamarpayami                (offering prayers; List your requests )

35. XamaapanamSamarpayami (offering apologies to the lord for any mistakes)

After the Pooja is over, you may break the coconut. Leave one half with the deity and the other half may be used as Prasadam. At this point give teertham to everybody reciting the following mantra.


Om achyutayanamaha

Om anantayanamaha

Om Govindayanamaha

This purifies the devotee and he is now ready to receive the prasadam.

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