A, 19, is an Indian student at USC. He has lived in India for 12 years of his life. Both his mom’s and his dad’s sides of the family practice Hinduism. He then explained the traditions, rituals, and celebrations that are practiced in Pujas for certain Gods during their respective festivals.
Most Hindu households reserve a room or space in a room for a ritual that can be practiced daily or for special occasions. A puja involves placing idols or photos of gods that a Hindu family may specifically worship. These idols or pictures are decorated with garlands of flowers, and colored powders of red and yellow are dabbed onto the heads of these gods. A sweet dish is traditionally made that is emblematic of the festival or that the god enjoys. A lamp or ‘dia’ is placed on a special silver dish along with some rice and colored powders. This plate is then rotated near the idol, with the fire signifying our communication with God, while songs are sung in either regional languages or Sanskrit, and a small bell is rung. In the end, we pray to these gods, place our hands near the lamp for a second, and then place the warmth on our faces. We take a piece of the sweet dish with our right hand, as is customary, as the left hand is seen as dirty.
Puja, a ceremonial worshiping ritual, is usually performed by offering fruit or flowers to a Hindu deity that is represented by an idol or image. This ritual is practiced to reinforce a connection with a God and show appreciation for said deity. The word Puja derives from the Dravidian word for flower Pu, explaining the use of floral garlands in said celebration. In this celebration, flowers are meant to procure health, wealth, and prosperity. Pujas can be held throughout the year but are more prevalent during March and October/November; this is because of the cyclical calendar that is symbolic of the stages of life. The seasons of Spring and Fall (March and October/November) are very representative of the transitions between life and death. Many other cultures around the world celebrate similar dates, like easter and All Souls Day. Overall, puja is a ritual of offering to a God in Hindu mythology.