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.