Purpose Behind Performing Aarti

January 20, 2015, In: Traditions

An integral and a very key part of the Hindu worship ritual or Puja, Aarti or Arti originates from the Sanskrit word Aratrika, which when broken means absence of Ratrika or Ratri (night). Aartis are generally performed by lighting wicks soaked in ghee or Oil or by lighting camphor. This ceremony of light is at times also said to be the miniature version of a Vedic fire ritual of Yajna or Yagya or homa.

In today’s world, where the human belief system has become a little shaky, Aarti might just be a platter with several things in it and a song one must sing to appease the Gods. However, aarti is a spiritual connect between a devotee and the Lord. As per Bhagwat Gita, the material world (the creation) is made of five main elements; Akash (ether), Vayu (wind), Agni (fire), Jal (water) and Prithvi (earth). Each constituent on the aarti platter signifies one of these five elements. The flowers represent the earth element, a small pot of water represents the water element, the sound of the conch and the bells represent the ether element, the lamp or candles signify the fire element and the peacock fan signifies the air element. The platter replete with all these elements is moved in a clockwise circular motion around the deity or the divine element (holy rivers, the ocean etc.) making it seem like the light from the lamp forms a celestial circle binding together the performer and the one for whom the aarti is performed.

 Some interesting facts highlighting the significance of Aarti:

  •  The word Aarati can also split into ‘aa’ meaning complete and ‘rati’ meaning love. Thus Aarati or Arti is an epitome of one’s unflinching love and devotion towards the deity, the divine element or sometimes the person to which it is performed
  • Aarti isn’t always limited to the Gods. It can also be performed to living beings, when welcoming someone, to divine elements like the holy rivers, the ocean, and sometimes to inanimate objects such as vehicles, instruments, machines etc.
  • Aarti is a reminder to the humans that the creator must remain at the center of all activities and that the materialistic evils and their ego are secondary to the creator
  • Aarti is also performed in some Sikh Gurudwaras, with a basic difference that it is performed to the Guru Granth Sahib than to an idol
  • The five wick lamps are sometimes replaced with camphor or dhoop (fumes coming off burning coal)
  • Indian Catholics do aarti when a child returns after receiving the first holy communion

Thus, aarti must be perceived as an offering of the creation to the creator (the deity). A celebration of the divine light that brings positivity, sanctity, purity of soul, fragrance and love to the human lives!

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