Significance of Aarti
Aarti is a form of congregational worship, in which
the devotees stand facing the image of a deity or a defied saint
or, the personage (‘living idol’) of an exalted saint singing devotional
songs in unison. Normally, the singing is accompanied by musical
instruments such as bells, gongs and crymbals. The object of worship
is devoutly decorated with posy garlands and, aromatic incence and
musk are kept smouldering. While the devotees sing psalms, either
an official or a devotee revolves clockwise, (usually) a fivefold
oil lamp – consisting of five oil – traylets - round the object
of adoration. Such a performance of aarti with a fivefold oil-lamp
is called panchaarati.
A lamp with wicks burning clarified butter (ghee)
is most preferred. After the devotional singing, the flame of the
aarti-lamp is offered to the devotees, who pass their hands by turns
over the sacred flame and quickly draw them to their faces and heads
as a gesture of drawing onto themselves the auspicious energy emanating
from ‘the receptable grace’ i.e the flame.
- The essential constituent, of the ritual of aarti is a kind
of simple fire ritual. That is why it is frequently translated
as a ritual as of ‘waving lamps’.
- It was the masters of the school of Bhakti (devotion) who transformed
the simple-fire ritual into an exalted spiritual method. Worship
in a congregational setting is helpful in more than one way.
- In a communal prayer devotees can pray in a space charged with
the homogeneous devotional fervour of a group can cut across the
insulation of the ego and merge easily into a group rhythm.
- It induces a sense of expanded consciousness in which one tends
to lose the individual ‘voice’ subtly, an awareness of being a
part of a ‘Whole’ sense of separate identity melts into the mainstream
0f collective consciousness.
- A hymn or a psalm is an expression of ardent devotion which
in turn is capable of evoking kindred emotions in the hearts of
those who recite it This is a language to commune with the Divine.
By waving the lights in circular motion, we,
in fact, symbolically perform ‘Pradakshina’ around our Deity.
- When the five-wick lamp is lit, the devotee waves it symbolically,
offering his five pranas (The entire being of five pranas,
which are praan, apaan, samaan, udaan and vyan. Praan has
it’s seat in the lungs and is breath, Apaan goes downwards and
out at the anus. Samaan has its seat in the cavity of the navel
and is essential to digestion. Udaan rises up in the throat and
enters the head. Vyan is diffused through the whole body),
to the Lord, totally surrendering himself and gaining, seeking
the union of the devotee’s soul with the Supreme Self.