According to Sanatana Dharma, India's ancient spiritual tradition, certain ritual practices have the power to attract divine cosmic energy for the benefit of the practitioner, his or her household, and the world at large. Two of the most powerful practices include homas and pujas that include abhishekas.
The Significance of Homas
A homa is a sacred fire ceremony in which various forms of the Divine are invoked in a sacred fire that has been kindled according to the guidelines in the Vedic scriptures. Certain special offerings are made into the fire while Sanskrit mantras are chanted. The combination of the powerful energy of the fire and the Sanskrit mantras creates extremely auspicious and purifying vibrations that are beneficial to all who attend the homa. The smoke that rises from a homa contains a powerful healing energy, and as it rises to the heavens it purifies the atmosphere, both physically and subtly, encouraging a peaceful environment and gentle weather. Even the damaging effects of natural catastrophes can be reduced through the performance of homas. The energetic vibrations that are invoked during a traditional Vedic fire ceremony represent the most powerful presence of the Divine on Earth. The element of fire is associated with the upward motion of the divine kundalini energy and is considered to be the most powerfully purifying element. Every kind of negative karma can be purified by the sacred homa fire, due to divine grace.
The Significance of Abhishekam
During a traditional puja, or worship ceremony, abhishekam is often performed. In an abhishekam, various liquids like milk, ghee and honey are poured in a steady stream over a murti, or divine figurine, while specific Sanskrit mantras are recited. As the offerings are gently poured over the murti, divine blessings radiate out towards all those present, providing protection, purification, and spiritual elevation. Amma has explained that these sacred ceremonies "purify the Earth's atmosphere, uplift the community, and contribute to the health and prosperity of the individual." All homas and abhishekas are performed in Amma's divine presence, which makes the ceremonies many times more effective.
Attendance and Sponsorship
Attendance is free and open to the public for all homas and pujas. Although there is no charge for attending a homa or puja, those who would like to receive specially blessed prasad that has been energized by the homa may sponsor a homa or puja by filling out a sponsorship form. Homas and pujas can also be sponsored even if it is not possible to be physically present at the ceremony. In this way, the sponsor will still be able to receive the blessings and positive energy from a homa or puja. This is achieved in two different ways. First, sponsors' names are recited during the sankalpa, which is a set of specific mantras that binds the energy of the homa to the sponsors. Second, sponsors will receive through the mail specially blessed prasad. Prasad often consists of sacred ash or kumkum that has absorbed the auspicious vibrations of the ceremony, as well as small pendants or malas that have been energized by the homa or puja.
There are many different reasons why a person might want to sponsor a homa. The real significance in sponsoring a homa or puja is that one is offering one's negative karma in the form of the money. Through the power of the homa ceremony, the negative karma is destroyed and replaced with positive karma.
If a person is experiencing difficulties of any kind, sponsoring a homa will help to lessen those difficulties. The homa fire is capable of destroying the most negative karma at the very root, and karma is ultimately the cause of all problems. In addition, sponsoring a homa is a very sacred act of merit, as homas benefit all attendees, as well as the entire world. Even a small sponsorship can bring great benefit to many creatures, and this enhances our own pool of merit, or positive karma. Positive karma makes the path of our lives smooth and clear, and gives us the opportunity to be in the presence of and benefit from holy people. Thus, sponsoring the sacred homa can both reduce one's negative karma and enhance one's positive karma, which makes life more conducive to spiritual practice and which ultimately leads to the highest liberation. Some devotees' experiences of the positive influence of homas have been posted.
Throughout the year, homas and pujas are performed in the U.S. during Amma's tour (visit US Homas and Pujas), in India at the Sri Lalita Parameswari Temple in Amma's Penusila Ashram (visit Temple Sevas)
and homas and abhishekams on special festival days (visit India Homas and Pujas).
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