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Fire plays an important part in some Hindu rituals.


The ritual world of Hinduism (manifestations of which differ greatly amongst regions, villages, and individuals) offers a number of common features that link all Hindus into a greater Indian religious system, and influences other religions as well.

The most notable feature in religious ritual is the division between purity and pollution. Religious acts presuppose some degree of impurity or defilement for the practitioner, which must be overcome or neutralized before or during ritual procedures. Purification, usually with water, is a typical feature of most religious actions. Avoidance of the impure - taking animal life, eating flesh, proximity to dead things or bodily fluids - is another feature of Hindu ritual and is important for repressing pollution.

What becomes of a person's earthly remains after death?
They are buried
They are fed to crows
They are burnt to ashes
They are left out in the open to rot
Hindus believe that once a body is burnt to ashes, only then the atma (higher-self or soul) is really free to move on
Which god is remembered before any puja?
Shiva Bhagwan left his abode on Mt. Kailas in the Himalayas to meditate in a cave. The friends of his spouse, Parvati, suggested that she should have an attendant (gana) of her own because they were not pleased with Shiva’s ganas. She used her divine powers and bore a son, who she named Vinayak, and instructed him to guard their home.

When Shiva returned home Vinayak did not allow him to enter. After a brief argument, Shiva beheaded Vinayak with his trishul (a kind of trident). When Parvati heard about this she cried in despair over the loss of her son. As a means to console Parvati, Shiva sent his men to the forest and instructed them to retrieve the head of the first living creature they met. Shortly, his men returned with the head of a baby elephant. With his divine powers, Shiva placed the baby elephant’s head over Vinayak's body and, in a matter of seconds, Vinayak came back to life.

After this incident, Vinayak became known as Gajaanan, which stems from the root word ‘gaj’ meaning elephant. Shiva blessed him with a boon and explained that people would first offer their love and devotion to Ganeshji before starting any auspicious activity
Which river holds a special position in the Hindu rituals?
The Brahmaputa
The Yamuna
The Saraswati
The Ganga
Ganga (or Ganges) is mentioned in all the Vedas and sacred texts. She is said to be the mother of Bhishma, a prime character in the Mahabharata. Ganga is believed to purify anything and everything
Which plant is considered to be very auspicious and its leaves are a must in a Vishnu Puja (a prayer ritual)?
Hindus regard Tulsi (or Holy Basil) as an earthly manifestation of the goddess Tulsi, a consort of the god Vishnu. The offering of its leaves is mandatory in ritualistic worship of Vishnu and his forms like Krishna and Vithoba
In which direction is a dead body's head placed?
The south is considered to be the direction of Yama, the god of death, and so Hindus do not even sleep with the head in the south-direction. On the other hand, a person can sleep in an opposite direction, for example, he can keep his head in the north and feet facing south. This sleeping position is also suggested in Vaastu Shastra
What is the word for purification at rituals which is a mandatory feature before worshipping?
Suddhi refers to the cleansing of both the body and the soul. The cleansing of the body can be achieved by bathing (which is a part of Suddhi) and then the mantra is recited to cleanse the soul
Which daily chore should not be done without first having a bath?
Cooking is always considered to be a very pure act which requires love and compassion. So, before every pure act we should cleanse our body and our mind
Which flower should be used in a Kali Puja?
Hisbiscus is red in colour and can be found in abundance in Bengali society. Red symbolises blood, wrath and power, which are all related to Mother Kali
Every Hindu ritual is observed facing in which direction?
The Sun God has always held special position in every Hindu ritual. Since the sun rises in the East, every ritual is done facing east-ward
Which prayer must be recited at least twice a day - at dawn and at dusk?
The Gaytri mantra
The Hanuman Chalisa
The Chandi
The Ashottar Shatanam
The ancient Hindu scriptures describe how the sage Vishwamitra was given the Gayatri mantra by the Supreme Being as a reward for his many years of deep penance and meditation. This was to be a gift for all humanity. It is said that this sacred prayer spirals through the entire universe from the heart of the chanter, appealing for peace and divine wisdom for all..

The Gayatri Mantra inspires wisdom in us using very basic but beautiful language. It says "May the divine light of the Supreme Being illuminate our intellect, to lead us along a path of righteousness".

The Vedas say:

"To chant the Gayatri Mantra
purifies the chanter.
To listen to the Gayatri Mantra
purifies the listener."


Author:  Siddarth Bhattacharjee

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