Shikharbaddha Mandir - Customs and Rituals

Customs and Rituals

While shikharbaddha mandirs can differ in their daily rituals, certain customs and practices are relatively common amongst various Hindu sects. Many mandirs perform five ārtis throughout the day. The timing of each ārti corresponds with rituals surrounding the sacred murtis, or images of the Lord, that are housed within the mandir. The first ārti, or manglā ārti, is performed before sunrise. The shangār ārti is performed after the murtis have been adorned with garments. The rājbhog ārti is performed at noon, when the murtis are offered food. At dusk, the sandhyā ārti is performed. The final ārti of the day, shayan ārti, is performed before the murtis are put to rest for the night. Arti and other rituals in a shikharbaddha mandir are performed by sādhus; in other types of mandirs, lay pujari typically fulfill such roles.

Most mandirs also include bells (ghanta) inside or near the central shrine for worshippers to ring upon entering. Devotees ring the ghanta as an invocation to the deity prior to beginning worship. Ringing bells are also used to announce the start of ārti as well as during the ārti ceremony itself. The worshiper may go to other locations in the mandir complex where there are murtis of the deities. On a typical visit to the mandir complex devotees perform pradakshina, circumambulating around one or more of the shrines while viewing the murtis in the sacred precincts.

Some devotees remain in the mandir to hear kathā, the reading of portions of the sacred scriptures and religious discourses given by an ascetic or learned householder. Larger mandirs, including many shikharbaddha mandirs, have assembly halls where these discourses are delivered. If the crowds are too large for the assembly hall, as on important festival days, the open space of the courtyard is often used.

The landmark ritual for any shikharbaddha mandir is the prána pratishthá, the sacred ceremony in which the murtis are consecrated and the Deity is invoked into the images. Hindu scriptures specify that only “one in whose every organ Paramátma resides fully, that pure Mahapurush is eligible to perform prãna pratishthã, because it is only he who can invoke the Paramatma within his heart into the murti.” Accordingly, spiritual gurus or senior sadhus often perform the pratishthá rituals to inaugurate shikharbaddha mandirs.

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