Upacharas (articles of worship)
last updated 21st September 2005

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Number of Upacharas:
Numbers in combinations for offering Upacharas:
64 upacharas - sixty four articles
Symbolism of the Upacaras:
Substitutes for Upacaras:
Method of Offering:
Description of the Upacaras:

Mula mantras for Salagram seva pujan

The Mood of the Seva According to the Sri Vaishnavas at Sri Rangam:

More information on upadanam

Puja paraphernalia available on-line:

Yantras - geometrical representations of images - Deities:

16 upachara seva prayog utilizing the verses of Purusha suktam - downloadable pdf

Sri Purusha Shukta Mantra Bhagavat Puja Vidhi - Gaudiya Math Archana Paddhati 1935

Authorized Standards of puja accepted in the Vaishnava sampradayas
Sri Vaishnava style and prayog
Laghu Aradhanam by Sundar Kidambi of the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya - translated by Gaura Keshava prabhu ACBSP

In case of emergency or no pujari to do the seva

Styles of seva pujan - a few examples:

Abhishek sequence pictures
Japanga and Bhaktyanga seva pujan

Upacaras refers the articles offered to the Lord in worship. The upacaras are different aspects of service.  These are the items which are offered to a person to show respectful treatment.  All elements should be offered with love.

Number of Upacharas:

In daily worship, one usually offers  sixteen  upacaras to the principal deity and more if the deity is in a temple. Other deities may be offered ten or five upacaras, depending on ones facilities and time.  It is to be understood that the offering of upacaras should be preceded by the purificatory rites of purvanga karma and followed by the concluding activities. The upacaras are given below.

One will notice that the list of ten upacaras omits the elements of the bath, while the list of five upacaras omits both the bath and the preliminary welcome with asanas, padyam etc.

Some authorities include svagatam - welcome) as one of the sixteen upacaras and omit upavita (sacred thread), while others include upavita and omit svagatam.  For this reason ths items are in parentheses.

Sodasa upachara - 16 - sixteen articles
Dvadasa upachara - 12 twelve articles
Dasa upachara - 10 - ten articles
Panch upachara - 5 - five articles
1 upachara - Bhakti is the sole article

In case of emergency or no pujari to do the seva
see below

dhyayami devam lakshmisam shankha-chakra-gadhadharam
peethambara paridhanam padhma sannibha lochanam
manda smitha mukham bhojam madhanayutha sundaram
maaya nirmitha loka-ougam mega syamala vigraham
sri lakshmi naarayanam dhyayami

namo namasthe karunalaya
namo namasthe kamala dhavaya
namo namasthe jagatham cha srashtre
namo namasthe nath soka harthre
thrahi maam karuna sindho ! paahi maam kamala pathe !
thvayi bhakthi: sadhaivasthu mama sarvar tadhayini
(om) namo naarayana ….subham asthu.

There are number of ways to perform AarAdhanam forSaaLagrAmams at one's home:

1) Taantric way with ShOdasOpachArams (16 upacharas).

2) Standard Bhagavath AarAdhanam followed by VaishNava Dinacharya established by AchArya RaamAnujA (please refer to AchArya RaamAnujA interactive multimedia CD ROM for details or ask for help from the family elders or AchAryAs).

3) Chathurvimsathi Murthi sthOthra KaTana PoojA This is simpler and any one can do it by reciting this sthOthram in front of SaaLagrAmam(s) and offer Pushpam, Milk and NaivEdhyam. Thirumanjanam can be done with few spoons of milk as well.

4) Those who are in a hurry can take few minutes to recite the two dhyAna slokams, perform japam of AshtAksharam, offer milk, Taambhulam, Karpoora haratthi. The SaaLagrama Moorthys at home should not be neglected and starved since inauspiciousness will result otherwise to the home.

(If I may add a small story, a smartha friend told me of how in his family there have been generations of pujaris worshipping their family Shaligrams, but his grandmother told him as a small boy of a situation that had occurred in their family. You see her son, my friend's father had no inclination toward seva puja, so my friend's grandmother continued the pujas using the system herein, waiting and praying for someone to appear in their family to again continue the seva pujas. By the grace of the Lord, her prayers were answered in the form of my friend taking his birth in that family and with the encouragement of his grandmother developed a taste for serving the Lord in the Shaligram form unlike his father who was more interested in business and "providing for his family". At the appropriate time my friend was given upanayanam and shown how to worship Sri Shaligram, and continues to do so throughout his life.
    So, I'm mentioning this, so that families may not act hastily if it appears there is no one presently to serve Them. Keep the faith, pray to the Lord that He may rectify things, and then those faithful sumangalis and brahmin ladies of the house simply feed the Shaligram offering with love and devotions purified food items, and in due course of time the Lord will make all necessary arrangements:)

The two dhyAna slOkams are:

dhyAyAmi Devam Lakshmisam Shankha-chakra-gadhAdharam
PeethAmBara paridhAnam Padhmasannibha lochanam
Mandasmitha mukhAmbhojam madhanAyutha Sundaram
MaayAnirmitha lokaougam megasyAmala vigraham
Sri LakshmI NaarAyaNam dhyAyAmi

NamO NamasthE KaruNAlaya NamO NamasthE KamalAdhavAya
NamO NamasthE JagathAm cha srashtrE namO namasthE nathsOka harthrE
ThrAhi maam KaruNAsindhO ! Paahi maam KamalApathE!
Thvayi bhakthi: sadhaivAsthu mama sarvArTadhAyini
(Om) NamO NaarAyaNa ….Subhamasthu.

Even on days in which one is unable to perform AarAdhanam for SaaLagrAma Moorthys, The ladies of the house or children can recite the above slOkAs in front of the Moorthys, offer the food cooked for the day as naivEdhyam and complete the aarAdhanam  (puja) this way.

SaaLagrAma dhyAnam (meditation) is one of the most auspicious dhAnam.

Mula mantras and method of pujan:

In the worship of the salagrama-sila, you should follow the same basic procedure as that for worshiping the Deity form of the Lord. However, you may expand many of the basic sixteen upacaras to include additional upacaras. These optional procedures allow for more elaborate worship according to the list of sixty-four upacaras. The temple salagrama-sila can thus receive full worship on behalf of the main Deities in the temple. Generally one offers the optional upacaras by substitution, either with flower petals or with visesa-arghya water.

When offering each of the main sixteen upacaras to salagrama-sila, you may chant a verse from the Purusa-sukta. The Purusa-sukta is a Vedic hymn which is chanted when worshiping Lord Visnu, in which the Lord is described as the personification of the process of sacrifice. Ideally, the Purusa-sukta is chanted with svara and sama, or proper pitch and rhythm. This must be learned from an expert. In simplified salagrama-sila puja, simply chant the first verse of Purusa-sukta.

In worshiping a temple salagrama-sila, you may use either the mula-mantra used for the main Deity, or the gopala-mantra (the sixth of the seven guru-given mantras), or the mula-mantra for Vasudeva (om namo bhagavate vasudevaya or om namo narayanaya).

M™la Mantras (from Pancharatra Pradipa - Download Pancharatra Pradipa HERE)

The standard m™la-mantras for the Deities worshiped in ISKCON are given below. They should be chanted only by devotees duly initiated by a bona fide spiritual master into the chanting of pañcar€trika G€yatr… mantras. See <pg. ? > for a further explanation of mantras used in Deity worship.

Guru: the second of the seven guru-given mantras
Previous guru: oˆ parama-gurave namaƒ
Previous guru: oˆ parampar€-gurave namaƒ
Previous guru: oˆ mah€-gurave namaƒ
Previous guru: oˆ parames˜hi-gurave namaƒ
VaishŠavas: oˆ sarva-vaishŠavebhyo namaƒ
Lord Caitanya: the fourth of the seven guru-given mantras
Lord Nity€nanda: kl…ˆ nity€nand€ya namaƒ or kl…ˆ dev…-j€hnav€-vallabh€ya namaƒ
Advaita šc€rya: kl…ˆ advait€ya namaƒ
®r… Gad€dhara: Sr…ˆ gad€dhar€ya namaƒ
®r… ®r…v€sa: Sr…ˆ Sr…v€s€ya namaƒ

Lord KrsŠa, Lord Jagann€tha, Govardhana-Sil€, and Dv€rak€-Sil€: the gop€la-mantra, i.e., the sixth of the seven guru-given mantras, or kl…ˆ krsŠ€ya namaƒ
®r…mat… R€dh€r€Š…: Sr…ˆ r€ˆ r€dhik€yai sv€h€ or Sr…ˆ r€dh€yai namaƒ
R€dh€-KrsŠa: Sr…ˆ kl…ˆ r€dh€-krsŠ€bhy€m namaƒ
Lalit€-Vish€kh€: Sr…ˆ Sr…ˆ lalit€-vish€kh€bhy€ˆ namaƒ
All the gop…s: oˆ sarva-sakh…bhyo namaƒ
®r…mat… Tulas…-dev…: oˆ tulasyai namaƒ
Lord Balar€ma: kl…ˆ balar€m€ya namaƒ
®r…mat… Subhadr€: Sr…ˆ subhadr€yai namaƒ
®r… Sudarshana: oˆ sudarshan€ya namaƒ
Lord R€macandra: kl…ˆ r€m€ya namaƒ or r€ˆ r€m€ya namaƒ
®r…mat… S…t€: Sr…ˆ s…t€yai sv€h€ or Sr…ˆ s…t€yai namaƒ
S…t€-R€ma: Sr…ˆ r€ˆ s…t€-r€m€bhy€ˆ namaƒ
®r… LaksmaŠa: kl…ˆ sa‰karshaŠ€ya namaƒ or laˆ lakshmaŠ€ya namaƒ
®r… Hanum€n: huˆ hanumate namaƒ
VishŠu ®alagr€ma-Sil€: oˆ namo bhagavate v€sudev€ya or oˆ namo n€r€yaŠ€ya
Lord Nrisiˆha: kl…ˆ nrisiˆh€ya namaƒ or kshrauˆ nrisiˆh€ya namaƒ
Laksm…-Nrisiˆha: Sr…ˆ kl…ˆ lakshm…-nrisiˆh€bhy€ˆ namaƒ or Sr…ˆ kshrauˆ laksm…-nrisiˆh€bhy€ˆ namaƒ
Prahl€da: praˆ prahl€d€ya namaƒ
Prahl€da-Nrisiˆha: praˆ kl…ˆ prahl€da-nrisiˆh€bhy€ˆ namaƒ or praˆ kshrauˆ prahl€da-nrisiˆh€bhy€ˆ namaƒ

All the m™la-mantras for vishŠu-tattva Deities may use the b…ja syllable kl…ˆ, since these Deities are expansions of KrishŠa. If you are worshiping a Deity who is not a VishŠu-m™rti and who has no specific m™la-mantra, simply chant oˆ, the name of the Deity in the dative case, and then namaƒ. For example, the m™la-mantra for the cowherd boy Subala would be oˆ subal€ya namaƒ. Alternatively, take the first syllable of the personality's name and add anusv€ra to form the b…ja. Example: praˆ prahl€d€ya namaƒ.

Note: If you have been worshiping a particular Deity with a m™la-mantra other than the one listed here for that Deity, you may continue using that mantra.

Giriraj: Klim Giriraje namah
Giriraj: Klim gopijanaballabhaya namah (or swaha)

Upac€ra Names

When offering articles of worship or performing services, say the name of the article or service and then the m™la-mantra of the Deity you are worshiping. This shows respect and draws the Lord's attention to the article being offered or the service being rendered.
The name of the upac€ra in singular number is preceded by the Sanskrit word meaning "this," which changes form according to the gender of the upac€ra word: etat or idam for neuter words (etat padyam, idam €caman…yam); e?a for masculine words (esha gandha, esha d…paƒ); and esh€ for feminine words (esh€ ga‰g€-mrittik€). If the article is plural in number, it is preceded by et€ni for neuter items (et€ni pushp€ni), ete for masculine items, and et€ for feminine items. If the article is dual in number, it is preceded by ete if the articles are neuter or feminine (ete gandha-pushpe), and by etau if the articles are masculine. The names of the main upac€ras are as follows:

esha pushpۖjali
ime p€duke (shoes)
idam €sanam (seat)
etat padyam (footwash)
idam arghyam (arghya water)
idam €caman…yam (water for sipping)
esha madhuparkaƒ (madhuparka drink)
idaˆ punar-€caman…yam (second €camana)
idaˆ sagandha-tailam (scented oil)
idaˆ sn€n…yam (bath)
idaˆ vastram (clothes)
idam upav…tam (sacred thread)
idaˆ tilakam (tilaka)
idam €bharaŠam or plural im€ni €bharaŠ€ni (ornaments)
esha gandhaƒ (sandalwood paste with scents)
ete gandha-pushpe (flowers with sandalwood paste)
etat tulas…-patram or plural et€ni tulas…-patr€ni (tulas… leaves)
idaˆ sugandha-pushpam or plural et€ni sugandha-pushp€ni (sweet-smelling flowers)
idaˆ m€lyam or plural im€ni m€ly€ni (garlands)
esha dh™paƒ (incense)
esha d…paƒ (lamps)
idaˆ naivedyam (eatables)
idaˆ p€Š…yam (drink)
idaˆ t€mb™lam (betel)

Numbers in combinations for offering Upacharas:

an example..... or Full prayog
Sodasa Upachara
16 items
Dasa Upachara 
10 items 
an example....
Pancha Upachara
5 items
padyam padyam
arghyam arghyam
acamaniyam acamaniyam
madhuparka madhuparka
acamaniyam acamaniyam
gandha gandha gandha
puspa puspa puspa
dhupa dhupa dhupa
dipa dipa dipa
naivedyam naivedyam naivedyam
Three upacaras: Two upacaras: One upacara:
gandha gandha bhakti
pushpa pushpa

64 upacharas - sixty four articles

Usually temples can offer more than sixteen upacaras without difficulty.  64 upacaras which are offered throughout the day  are listed in Hari Bhakti Vilasa and Chaitanya Charitamrta.   The sequence has been rearranged and divided for better understanding.  This will give some idea of the opulent type of service that should be offered in the temple.

Early Morning activities:

Waking the deity with vedic verses, praises, instrumental music.
Offering a twig for brushing the teeth.
Offering mangala aratrika.
Shouting jaya on seeing the deity.
Offering pranamas to the Lord before entering for puja.

Offering the Main Upacaras:

Inviting the Lord (avahana), offering him a seat (asana), and making him comfortable (svagatam).
Washing the Lord's feet (padyam).
Offering arghyam as a sign of welcome and respect.
Offering water to wash the mouth (acamaniyam).
Offering madhuparka, then water to wash the mouth.

Offering the Lord shoes so that he may come to the bathing place.
Cleaning the Lord's body with a damp cloth to remove old candana etc. (murti samskara).
Rubbing the Lord's body, especially the head,  with fragrant oils.
Bathing the Lord in flower water.
Bathing the Lord in milk.
Bathing the Lord in yoghurt.
Bathing the Lord in ghee.
Bathing the Lord in honey.
Bathing the Lord in sugar.
Bathing the Lord in water consecrated with mantras.

Removing oil, ghee, etc, with flour, then warm water.
Wiping the Lords body with a soft, dry cloth (anga vastra).
Dressing the Lord in upper and lower cloth.
     Offering gayatri thread (upavita).
Offering acamana again after dressing.
     Arranging the Lord's hair.
Decorating the Lord with bracelets, necklaces, rings etc.
Offering kaustubha and other wonderful jewels.
Offering various colors of clothing, belts, turbans, capes etc.
Offering flowers to the Lord's lotus feet. Applying gandha to the Lord's feet with a tulasi leaf.

Offering incense.
Offering lamps.
Removing inauspicious influences, the glances of evil persons by mustard seeds etc.

Offering naivedyam.
Offering spices (mukha vasa).
Offering betel (tambulam).
Offering a couch for the Lord to relax in.
Offering gandha again and decorating the Lord's body with tilaka designs.
Offering the Lord a crown.
Offering varieties of flowers and garlands.


     Offering a mirror.
     Offering camara and umbrella.
     Playing instruments.
     Offering aratrika.
     Taking deity to a special mandapa.
     Bringing the Lord back to his throne.

     Bhoga Offering:

     Offering foot wash, mouth wash again.
     Offering another meal while burning incense.
     Offering betel, then performing aratrika.

     Concluding Puja:

     Recitation of verses (stuti)
     Circumabulation of deity (pradaksina)

Touching ones head at the lotus feet of the Lord (astanga pranama).
Taking caranamrta and flower prasada on ones head.
Taking the food remnants of the Lord.

     Night service:

Sitting at the feet of the Lord ready for service.
Making a nice bed for the Lord, with  soft cloth, flowers and nice scented powders.
Offering ones hand to the Lord, and offering him his shoes,  to bring him to the bed.
Receiving the Lord at the bed with great festivity.
Washing the Lord's feet, then drying them, offering gandha, flowers, betel, condensed milk, fan.
Having the Lord lie down in the bed and massaging his lotus feet.

The offering of upacaras is sometimes divided into groups (padma Samhita), according to the change of location of worship.  First comes the sapraya asana, where the Lord is worshiped by offering asana, svagatam, foot wash, arghya, mouth wash, madhuparka,  mouth wash.  The Lord is then offered shoes and led to the bathing area or snana asana, where he is offered tooth brush and tongue scrapper (if not offered when first waking the deity), where oil is rubbed on his body, and where he is bathed.  After the Lord is dried, he is offered shoes and led to the alankara  asana, where he is offered cloth, upavita, ornaments, flower decorations and garlands. After this the Lord may go out of the temple on procession in a palanquin. This is called yatra asana.  This is sometimes done in meditation.  The Lord is offered shoes and invited to the bhoga asana, where he is offered asana, padyam, acamana,  arghya, and water for his hands, a meal, drinking water, water to wash hands and mouth, acamana,  tambula.  The concluding elements  of chanting mula mantra japa, offering it to the Lord, asking forgiveness for offenses, circumamabulation and obeisances is called mantra asana. Putting the Lord in a bed to take rest is called sayana asana.


Symbolism of the Upacaras:

The offering of items are sometimes conceived as an offering of all the elements and senses in the service of the Lord.

asana: lotus of the heart
padyam: water in the form of amrta
arghyam: mind
acamaniyam, snana: armta
cloth: akasa
gandha: sense of smell
flowers: citta
incense:  five pranas
lights - lamps: fire
bell: dhvani
naivedya: amrta
chamara: air
gita: sound
nrtya: activities of the senses and mind
mala: flowers of consisting of absence of maya, egotism, attachment, vanity, delusion, arrogance, enmity, perturbance, malice, covetousness; and possession of ahimsa, sense control, mercy, forgiveness and knowledge.


Substitutes for Upacaras:

If any of the above items are lacking, one should still perform worship, by substituting flowers, raw white rice, barley, tulasi  or pure water for the articles.  At the time of offering the article which is lacking, one should say the mantra for offering that article and meditate on its presence as one offers the substitute (water etc). The water or flowers may be discarded in a vessel for that purpose. Thus even the poorest person, with only a few copper vessels and pure water, by use of mantra, meditation and devotion, can worship the Lord in full opulence and receive the greatest mercy from the Lord.

Respect for the  Upacaras:

The Lord's clothing , bedding, slippers and everything required as an ordinary necessity, are all transformations of Sesa Visnu, the expansion of Sri Baladeva.  Thus the cloth and other paraphernalia of the Supreme Personality of Godhead  are but other forms of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.  Everything connected to the Lord is worshipable.

According to etiquette things used by Krsna should not be used by anyone else.  Similarly things used by the spiritual master should also not be used by anyone else.  That is etiquette.  Whatever is used by Krsna or the spiritual master is worshipable.  In particular their sitting or eating places should not be used by anyone else.
                              CC Madhya V.6p.119

Method of Offering:

One should name the article and say the mula mantra, while sprinkling the article with arghya water.  Some articles (dhupa, dipa) have special verses  which should be recited at this time.

One may then show the upachara mudra.

One should then present the article to the Lord.

Some authorities say that the Lord does not accept any article without tulasi, and therefore they also place tulasi on dhupa holder, lamp, etc before offering.

One should ring the bell while offering arghya, snaniyam, dhupa, dipa and naivedyam.

According to some tantric scriptures, one should not show ones finger nails while offering items.  Therefore one should always offer items with palm turned upwards.  The items should be offered by the right hand thumb and forefinger (except gandha, dhupa and dipa), while the left hand touches the right arm. When offering an item one should not directly hold it or pass it over the deity's head.

After offering an article one should wash the hands before offering another  article.


The Mood of the Seva According to the Sri Vaishnavas at Sri Rangam:

A few things I came across in South India with regards to sila-care (they seem to differ in different parts of India, according to various sampradayas presumably)

1) Rule of thumb: Treat a Saligrama sila like a five year old child (this is a Sri Vaishnava rule of thumb) aka don't neglect them, dote on them and love them with lots of affections. And oh, don't forget to feed them daily!

2) If you don't have the "right" number of them in one place, Archa-beras (Deities) of Lord Krishna can "top off" the number. So if you have three silas, then one Krishna Deity makes you good to go, and so on... This was told me by the pujari in Srirangam

3) If you have silas that do not include Lakshmi devi in them (such as Lakshmi Narasimha, etc), then placing a small coin with Lakshmi devi with the sila "calms" Him down, and makes Him less ferocious. This was suggested by the pujari for the Sudarshana and Matsya murthy silas we received...

4) How to keep the silas? In a silver box, which is then placed in a wooden (preferably sandal or rose wood box). Apparently, the wooden box serves as a shock absorber for impurities in the immediate environs. The silver, well Gods don't use anything that isn't at least silver. Eg: in Srirangam, the garbagriha doors aren't opened untill a pot of water from the Kaveri river is obtained for the daily abhiseka. The state of Tamil Nadu suffers so much from drought, that the pujaris take till mid morning to get the single required pot (reason being, iron pipes cannot tocuh water meant for abhiseka in the temple). The pujari mentioned that if only the plumbing was made of silver....

Interesting stuff...

from Krishna Akilesh
29 May 2003

Description of the Upacaras:


When a guest arrives one should first offer him a respectable seat. The asana, the place where the deity will stand (pitha), should be large enough to draw or inscribe the deity's yantra on it, at minimum four fingers square. One may offer asana by placing flowers in the designated place.


Svagatam means welcome and comfort. One should ask the Lord if he is comfortable (svagatam su svagatam te?) and then with affection meditate on welcoming the Lord nicely and satisfying him, saying  svagatam, susvagatam.


The containers for items such as acamana etc may be of wonderful shapes, such as the form of a lotus, and of different colors and metals.  One may use, gold, silver, earthen, bell metal or copper.  Varaha Purana states that the best of all vessels are those made of copper.  They are the purest of the pure, the embodiment of all auspiciousness.

     sauvarnam rajatam kamsyam yena diyeta bhajanam
     tan sarvan samparityajya  tamran tu mama rocate

I am more pleased by containers made of copper than by those made of gold, silver or bell metal.
                             Varaha Purana

Milk products other than ghee however should not be stored in copper.  Therefore madhuparka should be kept in silver or bell metal.

The snana patra, receptacle for bathing the deity, may be copper.  Placing the Lord on asvattha leaves, banana leaves, or lotus leaves for bathing is also praised.


The sankha embodies the qualities of power, purity and beauty, and represents moksa. It is the constant companion of the Lord. Whatever tirthas exist in the world are said to reside in the water inside the conch.  Even by seeing or touching the sankha ones sins become destroyed.  Thus it is used ot offer liquid items during the worship. Padyam, arghyam, acamaniyam and snaniyam may be offered in the conch.

The right handed conch shells can be on the alter but no necessity of worshipping them.
                         letter from Srila Prabhupada,
                         June 8, l975


Padyam, arghyam,  acamaniyam and madhuparka are all elements of welcoming in the vedic tradition, offered to a king or distinguished guest.  Pure water is often offered in place of all these items.  One may throw flowers and tulasi into water, thinking of the absent items.

Padyam is water for washing the Lord's lotus feet.  Traditionally it contains four items: lotus petals, tulasi leaves, durba grass and syama dhanya (grain).


Arghyam is a mixture of auspicious items to be offered over or touched to  the head of guest.  One should ring a bell in the left hand while offering arghya.

The mixture may contain flowers, white rice, barley,  sesame, durba grass, kusa tips,  mustard seeds and gandha with water; or yoghurt, milk, white rice, kusa tips, barley, sesame, and white mustard seeds, mixed with water.  The visesa arghya may be used.

Ghanta (bell):

The bell is the embodiment of all music.  If one lacks instruments and kirtana, one should simply ring the bell, for that sound in itself is dear the Lord. Ringing a bell with a symbol of garuda or cakra on it liberates one from birth and death.
Before using the bell one should worship it with gandha and puspa, saying the mantra : om jayadhvani mantra matah svaha. When offering arghya, bath, incense, lamps. flowers, and naivedya one should ring the bell.


Water to wash the mouth may contain nutmeg, clove and kakkola berry scent.

Acamaniyam is offered before and after offering eatables, after bath, after putting on cloth, and after putting on yajnopavita.

This is a respectable refreshment composed of the auspicious elements of cow milk, yoghurt, ghee, honey and sugar.  alternatively yoghurt, honey and ghee may be offered.  If honey is not available one may use guda; if ghee is not available one may use popped rice; if yoghurt is not available one may use milk.

Madhuparka according to some, should have 16 tolas of honey and four tolas each of the remaining ingredients.

Sugandha Tailam:

Fragrant oils may be rubbed on the Lord's body before the bath.  This is an especially auspicious offering on ekadasi.


After the reception one should invite the Lord to a special bathing area. The principal element of the bath is pure water,but this may be altered in different ways. The water should not be collected at night. A regular bath consists of 100 pala of water; after applying oils one should bathe the Lord in 25 palas; for a special maha snana one should bathe the Lord in 2000 palas.

According to scripture, the deity should not be bathed during the daylight hours of dvadasi, but may be bathed on dvadasi night.

On special occasions one may bathe the Lord in pancamrta; milk, yoghurt, ghee, honey and sugar.

     pancamrtadyaih snapanam sada necchanti tat priyah
     kintu taih kala desadi visese karayanti tat
                          Hari Bhakti Vilasa

The devotees do not bathe the Lord in pancamrta on a daily basis, but perform this act at special times and places.

Afterwards ghee may be removed by rubbing the Lord's body with powdered barley or wheat flour and then washing the Lord's body with warm water.  A brush made from hairs of a cow's tail may be used to remove dirt from inaccessible parts of the deity's body.  After bathing the deity in warm water one should bathe the deity in cool water.

According to the Agni Purana one gains liberation by bathing the deity with ghee on the gaura astami of every lunar month.  Ghee bath is also recommended on dvadasis, amavasyas,  and purnimas.  One may also bathe the deity in milk or yoghurt alone, and attain visnuloka.  Buffalo and goat milk products should not be used.

Other types of water:

sarva ausadhi (mura , jatamamsi, vaca, kustha, sailaja, tumeric, daru haridra, sathi, campaka , and musta), flower water, scented water, mantra water, kusa water, tirtha water, tulasi water, jewel water, gold water, grape juice, mango juice, coconut water, camphor water, banana water.

During the bathing, one should recite Srimad Bhagavatam verse, Bhagavad Gita verses, Visnusahasra Nama, purusa sukta, Brahma Samhita etc.  Music, kirtana, ringing bells and blowing conch shells are also recommended.

Vastra (Cloth):

After bathing the deity  one should wipe the Lord with a fine, soft, clean cloth and dress him in lower and upper cloth.  Cloth should be long lasting, soft, clean, untorn, unworn by others, scented, in variety of colors.  Scriptures allow various local styles in dressing the Lord.  Dark blue cloth should not be offered unless it is silk or wool.

Concerning colors of cloth for various days, scriptural directives are few on this point, but different temples have their own traditional colors according to day and season (Jagannatha for instance). Some temples dress the deity in the the color corresponding the ruling planet of the day of the week: red on Sunday, white on Monday, coral on Tuesday, green on wednesday, yellow on Thursday, white, silver or gold or multicolor on Friday, purple, blue or black on Saturday.  According to the season as well the deities should be given suitable clothing:  warm clothing in the cold season, and light clothing in the hot season.

All colors may be utilized most suitable to your scheme.
                          letter from Srila Prabhupada
                          Jan.16, l970, Los Angeles

It is not at all good that the deities do not have warm clothing for the cold weather.
                          letter from Srila Prabhupada
                          Nitai, Nov.7, 1975

General Guideline:

The decoration should be so attractive that people when seeing Jagannatha will forget all attractiveness of maya.  This is the process of decorating Jagannatha.  Our eyes are attracted by the beauty of maya, but if our eyes are attracted by the beauty of Krsna, then there is no more chance of our being attracted by maya.
                          letter from Srila Prabhupada
                          June 7, 1968, Montreal

Krsna as he is appearing in our temples is in the kaisor age and the dress  whihc I have introduced is the dress of kaisora age.  In our temples the deities, Radha and Krsna are worshipped as Laksmi Narayana with all the opulence of their majestic lordship in Dvaraka.  The worship  of Radha Krsna as they appear in Vrndavana  is a very advanced stage.
                          letter from Srila Prabhupada
                          Jan.16, l970, Los Angeles

The proper method of dressing Jagannatha is as a Ksatriya King and there is no limit to the opulence you can give him.
                          letter from Srila Prabhupada
                          Kirtika Feb. 19, l973

Other details:

It is alright to keep ostrich feathers on the deities, but peacock feather must be there on Krsna.
                          letter from Srila Prabhupada
                          June 8, l975, Hawaii

Panca tattva all should wear tulasi kunti beads, not less than two strands, three, four strands or, my guru maharaj had five strands.  Only Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda wear crowns and nosepins.
                         letter from Srila Prabhupada
                         Nov.20, 1971, Delhi

Conch shell eyes are permitted.
                         letter from Srila Prabhupada
                          Feb 25, l969, Los Angeles

Shall Srimati Radharani's feet be showing?  The answer is no, they should never be seen.  Krsna's feet, however should be showing.
                         letter from Srila Prabhupada
                         Jan.4, l975, Bombay


The sacred thread of the Lord should be  nine strands of white or yellow cotton or silk.


One should decorate the Lord's forehead with urdhva pundra, vertical tilaka.  One may also decorate, arms, sides and throat of the deity with tilaka.

Alankara (ornaments):

One should offer toe ornaments, anklets, belts, bracelets, armlets, necklaces, rings and crowns, made of gold, silver, jewels, imitation jewels, brass, copper, etc.


This may consist of sandalwood, pulp, aguru and camphor, or two parts musk, four parts sandalwood, three parts kumkum and one part camphor.  Tulasi wood may also be ground and added. Sandalwood, camphor or any cooling items should not be offered during the cool season.

     na site sitalam deyam

One should not offer to the Lord cold items or items which cause cooling of the body during the cold season.

Gandha, of which those varieties  mixed with sandal wood paste are the best, may be offered to the whole body of the Lord (Gautamiya Tantra) or to his feet, heart and forehead.  After offering gandha one may fan the Lord to increase the cooling effect. Gandha may be offered by the middle and ring fingers or by thumb and little finger joined.


Flowers which should not be offered to the deity:  those which are torn, old and dried out (except lotus, campaka, tulasi, agastya and bakula), rotten or infested or eaten by  with insects, which have fallen on the ground (except bakula), bad smelling, without smell (except kusa flowers), flowers from thorny plants (unless fragrant and light colored), flowers still in bud( except jasmine), flowers with unclean items such as hair on them, flowers from a cemetery, flowers which have touched impure objects (such as a corpse), flowers held while paying pranams, flowers collected or held in the left hand, flowers collected in the lower cloth or placed on the head or ear or which have touched the lower part of the body, flowers smelled by a person, flowers washed by submerging in water, flowers picked in the afternoon or night, flowers picked by breaking branches or uprooting plants,  arka and dhustura flowers, flowers bought in the market.

     madhyahne snanam acarya kusumais tu samahrtaih
     naiva sampujayed visnum yannisiddhani tanyapi

One should not worship visnu with flowers picked after ones mid day bath.  This is forbidden.
                             Hari Bhakti Vilasa

Flowers to be offered:  those with sweet fragrance, white or yellow in color. If these are not available scentless flowers or dark colored flowers  may be offered, if not subject to the faults mentioned above.

The following flowers have been glorified in Hari Bhakti Vilasa:  jati (jasmine), red and white lotuses, malati,  kadamba, mango buds, mallika, madhavi,campaka, asoka,kunda, karnikara, jhinti,  karavi,yuthika, mandara, patla bakula, tila, jaba, bilva, white kutaja, ketaki, piyali tagara, palassa, kua, kumuda.

Flowers made of gold and jewels which have been scented may be offered and used again and again.

The Lord is more pleased with offering of good flowers than with offerings of jewels and gold. Therefore much attention is given to suitable flowers.  The flowers may be offered separately or by handfuls or made into garlands, mandapas, canopies and swings.

If flowers are unavailable leaves (tulasi, jambu, mango, amalaki, sami, tamala) or young grass shoots may also be offered.  If leaves and grass are unavailable pure water may be offered as substitute.

Lotus flowers may be offered to the head of the Lord and other flowers to the other parts of the body (Varahi Tantra ).  After offering they may be placed to the right of the Lord.  Flowers should not be offered upside down when offered singly, but when many are offered together this rule does not apply.
Puspanjali may be offered to the deity's head, heart, muladhara, lotus feet and to the whole body.

One should ring the bell when offering flowers.

Krsna belongs to the village atmosphere of Vrndavana and he is very fond of flowers.  As far as possible try to increase the quantity of flowers.
                         letter from Srila Prabhupada,
                         June 13, 1970,  Los Angeles

Section Two: Gathering Items for Worship (upadana)

Before starting the worship, gather all the required utensils and paraphernalia. The following section contains some considerations regarding utensils and the ingredients for the upacharas, as well as the means of purifying various items.

Utensils for Worship (dravya)

Conch (Shankha)
The shankha embodies the qualities of power, purity, and beauty, and it also represents moksha. Being a constant companion of the Lord, it is worshipable. All tirthas in the world reside in the water within the conch. Just seeing or touching the shankha destroys one's sins. The Lord is generally bathed with water from a conch; you may also use the conch for offering padya, arghya, and achamanaya. The conch is always placed on a three-legged stand.

Bell (gantha)
The sound of a bell embodies all music. If a devotee lacks instruments and kirtana he should simply ring a bell, for that sound in itself is dear to the Lord. Thus one should worship the puja bell before worshiping the Lord, as an item of His paraphernalia that is very dear to Him. Many functions of worship require that one ring a bell with a handle.* The shastra states that one who, while worshiping the Lord, rings a bell with a symbol of Garuda or the Lord's cakra on it attains liberation from birth and death.

*A bell with a handle is generally held in the left hand while being rung. When not being used, the bell should always sit on a plate; this is the bell's asana. Whenever offering arati, padya and arghya, when bathing the Deity and when offering bhoga, you should ring the bell. Optionally you may ring the bell also when offering other items when it is practical (i.e., when both hands are not required to offer the items, such as clothing and ornaments).

Vessels (patrani)
Containers for items such as achamana and padya as well as patras for gandha, flowers and tulasi leaves may be made of various substances and have various colors and shapes (a lotus, for example). One may use vessels made of copper, gold, silver, bell metal, clay, stone, wood (such as coconut shells), stainless steel, or brass. The Varaha Purana states that the best of all vessels are those made of copper: "[They] are the purest of the pure, the embodiment of all auspiciousness." While vessels of gold and silver are certainly pure, a container made of copper is not only pure but also purifies the water it contains. As the Lord states in the Varaha Purana (quoted in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa):
I am more pleased by containers made of copper than by those made of gold, silver, or bell metal.
However, sour substances such as yogurt and lemon should not be kept in copper containers. Therefore madhuparka* should be kept in a silver or bell-metal cup.

* See page <?> for an explanation of madhuparka.

Patras for padya, arghya and achamana should each have a spoon. If you are offering pure water alone for all these items, including madhuparka, you may use one receptacle for all of these combined. Usually a vessel called a pañca-patra is used for this purpose.
The snana-patra (receptacle for bathing the Deity) should be copper, brass, or bell metal. One may place the Lord on ashvattha leaves, banana leaves, or lotus leaves for the bathing ceremony. The best type of snana-patra (also called snana-vedi) has an opening on one side with a long lip, allowing the caranamrita to drain off into a seperate receptacle. If the snana-patra has no such drain, you can empty the bathing receptacle into the caranamrita receptacle after bathing and drying the Deity.
To supply bath water and meet any other water requirements, fill a large, covered pot (kalasa or lotha), preferably made of copper, and keep it nearby throughout the worship. Another empty container, open at the top, may be used as a throw-out pot (visarjaniya-patra) for all items that have been offered. You may keep yet another small water pot with a spout or simply a cup with a spoon (hasta-prakshalana-patra) within reach for washing your hands during the puja.
As for other patras, holders for dhupa and dipa (incense and lamps) can be of brass, bell metal, silver, copper, or clay.
The naivedya-patra, the plate upon which bhoga is offered, may be made of gold, silver, copper, bell metal, earthenware, palaasha wood, or a lotus leaf. Although the scripture does not mention it, stainless steel may also be used. Avoid using aluminum if at all possible. Shashtra specifies three standard sizes for the plate: the smallest is twelve fingers* in diameter (nine to ten inches, or about twenty-two cm.), twenty-four fingers is medium sized, and thirty-six fingers in diameter is best.

*A "finger" is the width of a finger. The plate for the naivedya offering of fruit near the conclusion of the morning puja may be smaller than twelve fingers.

Ingredients for Worship

Padya, water for washing the Lord's lotus feet, traditionally contains four items: lotus petals, tulasi leaves, darbha grass, and Shyama-dhanya (grain). Alternatively, you may simply add rose-water or -petals to fresh water.

The arghya mixture may contain flowers, white rice, barley, sesame, darbha grass, kusha tips, white mustard seeds, and gandha (sandalwood paste)--all mixed with water--or it may consist of yogurt, milk, white rice, kusha tips, barley, sesame, and white mustard seeds--all mixed with water. Alternatively, you may simply add sandalwood paste to fresh water. The water for the arghya upachara may be either the samanya-arghya water or the vishesha-arghya water (see pg. <?> for explanation of samanya-arghya and vishesha-arghya).

acamana, water for sipping, may contain ground nutmeg, ground clove, and kakkola-berry scent, which make it refreshing for the mouth.

Madhuparka, composed of the auspicious elements of cow milk, yogurt, ghee, honey, and sugar, is a high-class refreshment given to a respected person. Alternatively, you may offer a mixture of yogurt, honey, and ghee. If honey is unavailable you may use gura (raw sugar); if ghee is unavailable you may use puffed rice, and if yogurt is unavailable you may use milk. According to some authorities, madhuparka should have four parts honey and one part of each of the remaining ingredients.

Oils (taila)
In some temples the pujaris offer different oils according to the season. For example, in Vrindavana pujaris commonly offer ruh khush during summer, kadamba and rose during the rainy season, jasmine during autumn, and hina (myrtle) during winter. Avoid offering synthetic oils, which contain impure chemicals such as alcohol.

Bathing Ingredients
The principal element of the bath is pure water, with certain restrictions. Do not collect the water at night, nor touch it with your fingernails. In descending order of quality, the best water for bathing the Deity is Ganga or Yamuna water, then water from any Tirtha, water from a river that flows directly to the ocean, water from a tributary river, water from a natural spring, lake, pond, or man-made reservoir, water from a well, and finally water from a pot. Bring the water to a pleasant temperature for bathing, depending on weather - cooler in warm weather and warmer in cool weather. By adding various ingredients, one may prepare many kinds of water for bathing the Deity. Thus, especially in elaborate worship, one may bathe the Lord in flower water, scented water, mantra water, kusha water, tirtha water, tulasi water, jewel water, gold water, sarvaushadhi water (containing mura, jatamamsi, vaca, kushtha, sailaja (bitumen), turmeric, daru-haridra, shathi, champaka, and mustaa), coconut water, camphor water, or banana water. One may also bathe the Lord in various kinds of fruit juice. (We provide a complete description of an abhisheka in <Volume II> of this manual, Naimittika-seva.)

Soft Towels for Drying (anga-vastra)
The towels for drying the Lord, as well as the cloth offered in arati, should be pure cotton or pure silk. For towels cotton is better than silk because it is absorbent and can be washed repeatedly.

Dress for the Lord (vaastra)
The Lord should be dressed in upper and lower cloth that is durable, soft (not scratchy), clean, untorn, never worn by others, scented, and of variegated colors. The scriptures allow for various local styles in dressing the Lord, but traditional dressing, like traditional cooking, is very dear to Him.
The scriptures say little concerning what colors of clothing to use on different days, but temples use their own traditional colors according to day and season (the Jagannatha temple in Puri, for instance). Many temples in Vrindavana dress the Deity in the color corresponding to the planetary gem of the ruling planet of the day of the week: gold (for the metal gold) or red (for ruby) on Sunday, white or silver (for pearl) on Monday, red or pink (for coral) on Tuesday, green (for emerald) on Wednesday, yellow or orange (for yellow sapphire) on Thursday, white, silver, gold, multicolor, or any color (for diamond) on Friday, and purple, blue, or black (for blue sapphire) on Saturday.*
While this color scheme can be followed, it is not essential. As Shrila Prabhupada writes, "All colors may be utilized just suitable to your scheme" (letter from Shrila Prabhupada 16 January 1970).
The Deities should be dressed in clothing suitable to the season--warm clothing in the cold season, light in the hot season. Dressing Deities according to season is prominent in traditional temples in Vrindavana.
Shrila Prabhupada was displeased when devotees failed to dress the Deities in clothing suitable to the weather:
It is not at all good that the Deities do not have warm clothing for the cold weather. [letter from Shrila Prabhupada,  November 7, 1975]
* There is no specific color designation for Ekadasi, Purnima (full moon) or Amavasya (new moon), contrary to popular opinion.

Tulasi Leaves and Buds
If fresh tulasi leaves are unavailable, you may use dry tulasi leaves for offering bhoga and for placing on the Lord's lotus feet. If no tulasi leaves are available, during puja you may touch tulasi wood to the Lord's body as an offering of tulasi, and before offering the Lord's meal you may sprinkle the offering lightly with water containing ground tulasi wood. If even tulasi wood is unavailable, you should chant the name of tulasi and perform the worship meditating on her presence.
(See page <?> for instructions on worshiping tulasi and plucking her leaves.)

Since precious metals and precious stones attract thieves, Shrila Prabhupada instructed devotees to decorate Deities with synthetic jewelry. He allowed the use of materials such as ivory for ornaments.

Sandalwood Paste
Gandha may consist of sandalwood pulp with a pinch of aguru (aloes) and camphor, or two parts musk, four parts sandalwood, three parts kumkuma, and one part camphor. Finely ground tulasi wood may also be added. < colors>

The Hari-bhakti-vilasa dedicates an entire chapter to the subject of flowers. Flowers are a very important item in Deity worship, and thus we should take great care to offer the best flowers possible. Ideally the Deity should have His own flower garden so that He has a plentiful supply of flowers, at least seasonally. (See <Part II pg xx> for a list of offerable and unofferable flowers.)
If flowers are unavailable, you may offer leaves (especially tulasi, jambu, mango, aamalaki, shami, and tamala leaves) or newly grown grass shoots. If neither leaves nor grass are available, you may substitute pure water.
Shrila Prabhupada writes:
There is no question of using paper [or] plastic fruits and flowers for worshiping the deities. If no fresh fruits or flowers are available, then you can decorate with some fresh leaves. You have seen our temples; nowhere do we use such things. . . . We are not after decoration; we are after devotional service for pleasing Krishna's senses. Decoration must be there, of course, to make the temple as opulent as possible for pleasing Krishna. Outside the temple, you can use the plastic ornaments. But not for worship. For daily worship there must be fresh fruit, flowers, and leaves. [letter from Shrila Prabhupada, 26 December 1971]
Krishna belongs to the village atmosphere of Vrindavana, and He is very fond of flowers. . . As far as possible try to increase the quantity of flowers. [letter from Shrila Prabhupada, 13 June 1970]

Incense (dhupa)
Incense may be of many varieties. It is popular nowadays to offer incense sticks (agarbarthi), since they are convenient to light and offer. Strictly speaking, one can be reasonably sure that all purchased incense sticks contain impure substances--chemicals and possibly even animal products. Even "pure sandalwood" incense is inevitably synthetic. These impurities do not make such products unofferable, any more than synthetic jewelry is unofferable. Nonetheless, a higher standard would be to offer only completely pure, non-chemical incense. Ideally, you could make your own combinations of scents that you can make into sticks or burn on charcoals made for this purpose which are available in the market. Such ingredients as the following can be combined in various proportions: frankincense (also rarely available in pure form), camphor, jaggery, honey, sandalwood powder, cowdung; and spices like fenugreek, coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, clove, and cardamom. You can form small, rough balls by using dry-roasted rice flour or barley flour as a base, mixing in ingredients from the above list, and binding the compound with ghee; these balls are then dried. You can then dip the balls in mustard oil before offering them on a burning coal or piece of dried burning cowdung.

Lamps (dipa)
Ghee lamps offered in arati vary widely in shape and size. Traditionally, a ghee lamp must have an odd number of wicks, and more than three. The standard number of wicks for a full arati is five (pañcha-dipa); on special occasions one may offer lamps with more wicks or offer five separate lamps in sequence (this is another meaning of pañcha-dipa). The pujari may also use a flat metal plate as a lamp by placing ghee wicks along the edge of one side, or by placing camphor in the center. Certain types of lamp use long, thin ghee wicks made of cotton wrapped around a kusha-grass stalk. Lamps are usually made of silver, bell metal, brass, copper, and sometimes clay.
The technique for making ghee wicks that burn properly--with just the right amount of ghee, and tapered to a fine point--must be learned from an expert.

Food Offerings (naivedya)
Shrila Prabhupada writes:
As far as the eatables are concerned, all items should be first-class preparations. There should be first-class rice, dahl, fruit, sweet rice, vegetables, and a variety of foods to be sucked, drunk, and chewed. All the eatables offered to the Deities should be extraordinarily excellent. [Cc. Madhya 24.334, purport]

Forbidden foods
Common forbidden foods include meat, mushrooms, garlic, masoor- dahl (red lentils), burned rice, white eggplant, hemp (marijuana), citron, saps from trees (if not boiled first), buffalo- and goat-milk products, and milk with salt in it.* Also, one should not offer canned or frozen foods to the Deity, and it is best to avoid offering foods containing unhealthy substances such as yeast and white sugar

* Salty preparations like soup which include milk are allowed.
Frozen means nasty. I never take frozen. . . . All rotten, rather the same vegetable, as we have got in India practice, we dry it and keep it. That is tasteful. [conversation with Shrila Prabhupada, Vrindavana, 3 November 1976]
So far the cucumber pickles: As far as possible we should not offer to the Deity things which are prepared by nondevotees. We can accept from them raw fruits, grains, or similar raw things. So far cooking and preparing, that should be strictly limited to the initiated devotees. [letter from Shrila Prabhupada, 21 October 1968]
Vinegar is not good; it is tamasic, in the darkness, nasty food. [letter from Shrila Prabhupada, 24 March 1969]
Concerning the use of sour cream in the temple, it should be stopped immediately. Nothing should be offered to the Deities which is purchased in the stores. Things produced by the karmis should not be offered to Radha-Krishna. Icecream, if you can prepare, is O.K., but not otherwise. [letter from Shrila Prabhupada, 6 April 1976]
Unpolished rice which looks like brown can be used. . . We do not mind polished or unpolished, but doubly-boiled* [siddha rice] mustn't be used. Doubly-boiled rice is considered impure. Sunbaked rice (atapa) is all right. [letter from Shrila Prabhupada, 17 October 1967]

*Doubly-boiled rice is also known as parboiled.

Soya beans and lentils are unofferable. [personal instruction by Shrila Prabhupada to Hridayananda dasa Gosvami]
Regarding purchasing things in the market, these items are considered as purified when we pay the price for them. That is the general instruction. But when we know something is adulterated, we should avoid it. But unknowingly if something is purchased, that is not our fault. Things which are suspicious, however, should be avoided. [letter from Shrila Prabhupada, 21 October 1968]
Since it is offensive to offer anything to Krishna that He will not accept, one should be extremely cautious not to offer (or eat) anything questionable.

Offerable foods
The Hari-bhakti-vilasa lists some of the foods that may be offered: bilva, amalaki,  dates, coconut, jackfruit, grapes, tala fruit, lotus root, leafy vegetables, cow-milk products, and items made from grains, ghee, and sugar.
Grains, especially rice, should always be offered with ghee. Rice without ghee is considered asuric. The Lord is pleased when offered items made with ghee, sugar, yogurt, gura, and honey, , and also by chickpea preparations, dahls, soups (wet sabjis), varieties of cakes, and other items that can be licked, chewed, sucked, or drunk.
One may also offer drinks such as sugarcane juice, yogurt drinks, sweetened lemon water, water flavored with cinnamon, camphor, or cardamom, and fruit drinks of various scents and colors.
Many passages in the Caitanya-caritamrita describe preparations that please Krishna. Here is a sample, from Antya-lila, describing what Lord Caitanya's associates would prepare for Him:
They offered [Him] pungent preparations made with black pepper, sweet-and-sour preparations, ginger, salty preparations, limes, milk, yogurt, cheese, two or four kinds of spinach, soup made with bitter melon [shukta], eggplant mixed with nimba flowers, and fried patola. [Cc. Antya 10.135---136]
In a letter Shrila Prabhupada described foods in the mode of goodness and how to present them to the Lord:
Foodstuffs in the modes of goodness are wheat, rice, pulse (beans, peas), sugar, honey, butter, and all milk preparations, vegetables, flowers, fruits, grains. So these foods can be offered in any shape, but prepared in various ways by the intelligence of the devotees. [letter from Shrila Prabhupada, 13 November 1968]
In his Caitanya-caritamrita, Shrila Prabhupada describes the best type of rice for Deity offerings:
In India sukla-chaval (white rice) is also called aatapa-chaval, or rice that has not been boiled before being threshed. Another kind of rice, called siddha-chaval (brown rice), is boiled before being threshed. Generally, first-class fine white rice is required for offerings to the Deity. [Cc. Antya 2.103, purport]
A devotee may offer bona fide foods considered delicacies by the local people or preferred by him or his family.* In commenting on a shloka stating that one may offer his own or local favorites, Sanatana Gosvami writes that this means that even though people in general may not like a certain food, if a person prefers it he may offer it. But this refers to foods the scriptures approves, not those they forbid. Thus if one is fond of a forbidden food, one cannot offer it to the Lord. And thus one cannot eat it. Also, one should not offer even permissible foods that are tasteless, unpalatable, inedible, impure for any reason, or eaten by insects, animals, or people.

*When properly cooked, Krishna likes such preparations as rice, dahl, chapatis, sabjis, pakauras, and sweet rice. A person who identifies himself as a devotee of Krishna will prefer to offer Him what He likes. Still, if you considers a local preparation first-class and therefore thinks it would please Krishna, you may offer it to the Lord. The principle is to satisfy Krishna's senses, not one's own.

If nothing else offerable is available, one may offer fruit alone. If even fruit is unavailable, one may offer edible herbs. And if herbs are not available, one may offer pure water while meditating on offering elaborate preparations. If even water is unavailable, one should at least mentally make an offering of bhoga.

Size of the Lord's Offering
Shrila Prabhupada writes in his Chaitanya-charitamrita:
[Krishna] does not become hungry like an ordinary human being; nonetheless, He presents Himself as being hungry, and as such, He can eat everything and anything, regardless of quantity. The philosophy underlying Krishna's eating is understandable by our transcendental senses. [Cc. Madhya 4.77, purport]
And in a letter Shrila Prabhupada writes:
Regarding prasadam offering to the Deities, you will take from the cooked foodstuffs in a plate just sufficient for one man's eating, and this prasadam should be offered to the Deity, not the whole quantity. The rest of the foodstuffs may remain in the oven to keep it hot until the devotees accept and honor it.* [letter from Shrila Prabhupada, 14 February 1969]
In Australia Shrila Prabhupada instructed devotees to offer bhoga portions to Krishna as one would for a very hungry sixteen-year-old boy. There he also specified a certain number of puris to be offered with the last evening bhoga offering: Either six large, eight medium, or sixteen small puris should be on Krishna's plate.

*Certain foods should not be reheated, since their reduced digestibility of may cause disease. The Ayur-veda condemns the reheating of rice, sabji, ghee, oil, and medicine.

Kitchen Standards
Just as we must select pure, excellent foods to offer to Krishna, so we must also prepare them purely. To prepare food for the Lord, one must meticulously observe the rules for cleanliness and take the utmost care to prepare the food properly, maintaining the proper consciousness so that the Lord will accept the offering.
Because the consciousness of those who prepare food enters into the food--especially where cooking is involved--cooking for the Deities is restricted to devotees with brahmana initiation. If a devotee shows brahminical qualities of cleanliness and purity--and thus appears qualified to cook for the Deities--it may be appropriate for him to approach his spiritual master to request brahminical initiation.
Shrila Prabhupada stressed that only brahmanas should cook for the Lord. He writes,
Regarding the cooking, a non-brahmin may assist but he cannot cook. [letter from Shrila Prabhupada, 24 November 1974]
You should see that the Deity is tended for and cooked for only by the duly second initiated brahmins. [letter from Shrila Prabhupada, 19 December 1974]
As far as possible non-initiated devotees may not enter the kitchen or Deity area. They can help from outside. Just take care of them so that they may become pure devotees. [letter from Shrila Prabhupada, 4 April 1971]
Unless one is initiated, he cannot cook. One must be regular disciple; then he can do Deity worship. There is no question of the outsiders cooking in the New Delhi temple. [letter from Shrila Prabhupada, 11 July 1976]
The Hari-bhakti-vilasa underscores this point:
Food (especially grains) which is cooked by non-Vaishnavas or by sinful people, or which has not been offered to Vishnu, is the same as dog meat.

One should clearly understand the principles of cleanliness--how a person or object becomes contaminated, how contamination is transferred, and how things are purified <(see Shuddhi-vichara, Part II, pg. ?)>.
The consciousness of the cook enters into the food he prepares, and therefore he should strive to be Krishna conscious while in the kitchen. The kitchen, where the Lord's food is prepared, is an extension of the Deity room, where He eats. So the same high standard of cleanliness should be maintained in both places.
Shrila Prabhupada emphasized that devotees should always maintain the strictest standards of cleanliness. He writes,
The main thing is that whenever prasadam is offered to the Lord, everything should be very respectfully and cleanly presented and prepared. In Jagannath Puri, the Lord eats fifty-six times. So the Lord can eat as many times as you can offer. But the only thing is, whatever is offered must be with respect and devotion. . . . food which has been offered should never be put back into the refrigerator with the unoffered foods, or brought back into the kitchen. . . Refrigerator should always be very clean and pure. . . If there is any food extra, that should be kept separately; and if there is a separate refrigerator, not within the kitchen and not having in it any unoffered foods, then you may have such special refrigerator for leftover prasadam. . . One should never eat within the kitchen; there is ample place to eat, so why should one eat in the kitchen? Kitchen should be considered as good as the Lord's room, and nobody should wear shoes in the kitchen. Smelling and tasting of foods being prepared for the Lord should never be done. Talking within the kitchen should be only what is necessary for preparing the prasadam or about the Lord, and dirty dishes (those taken from the kitchen and eaten from) should not be brought back into the kitchen (but if there is no other place to wash them, then they should be put into the sink and washed immediately), hands should always be washed when preparing prasadam, and in this way everything shall be prepared very cleanly and purely. What is the difficulty of enforcing these rules? They are rules, and they are simple rules, and must be followed. One must be prepared to follow the rules for Krishna. Otherwise where is the proof that he loves Krishna. And they are not very difficult to follow. [letter from Shrila Prabhupada, 16 June 1968]
It is very offensive to the Deity to allow stored foods to go rotten before using them for offerings. Cooks should know which items are available and use them while they are fresh. Shrila Prabhupada wrote:
In the kitchen you should please see that nothing is wasted. [letter from Shrila Prabhupada, 10 November 1975]*
If, in the cooking process, food falls on the floor, if it is raw and can be washed nicely, then it can be offered. But if it is prepared and cannot be washed, then it is not to be offered, but can be eaten rather than be wasted. [letter from Shrila Prabhupada, 15 February 1968]

Kitchen Rules
Kitchen Dress
1. Cover your hair so as to avoid any hair falling into a preparation. If there is even a single hair in the food being offered to the Lord, it is a great offense.
2. Do not wear wool in the kitchen.
3. All clothing must be clean--that is, it must not have been worn in the bathroom, when eating or sleeping, or outside the temple grounds.

Personal Cleanliness
1 You should be freshly showered and wearing tilaka and neckbeads.
2. Wash your hands when first entering the kitchen, and wash them again if you touch your face, mouth, or hair, or if you sneez or cough (having--hopefully--covered your mouth).

Food Purity
1. After assembling the ingredients for cooking, wash all vegetables and fruits and anything else that can be washed.
2. If something washable falls on the floor or in a sink, wash it off; if it is unwashable, reject it. Discard anything that falls on your feet, whether it is washable or not.
3. The cook should cover all preparations as soon as they are cooked. If an animal sees a preparation before it is offered, it must be rejected. No one except the cook and the pujari should see the unoffered food.
4. The kitchen staff should cover the ghee used for frying when it is not in use. Old ghee should be replaced regularly with fresh ghee.
5. See to it that all ingredients are properly stored in closed containers.

Kitchen and Utensil Cleanliness
1. Devotees who serve in the kitchen should thoroughly clean it regularly, including inside the stoves, ovens, and refrigerators. (Regular cleaning with cowdung is advisable.)
2. The cleaners should scrub the pots after they are used (the sooner they are cleaned after use, the easier they are to clean).
3. No one should eat or drink in the kitchen; nor should anyone use the sink for spitting into or drinking from.
4. Remove all garbage from the kitchen at least once a day.
5. Do not store or "stash" prasada in the kitchen. As soon as possible after the offering, and after the offering plates have been washed, remove all the prasada from the kitchen.

Maintaining Proper Consciousness
1. Allow yourself enough time to prepare the offering in good consciousness. "Haste makes waste."
2. Conversation should be restricted to Krishna-katha.
3. Do not play recordings of popular music in the kitchen. (An ideal atmosphere is created in the kitchen when the cooks and helpers chant the Hare Krishna mantra aloud while preparing the offering.)
4. The simultaneous presence of men and women in the kitchen should be avoided as far as possible.
Usually only Vaishnavas should be allowed in the kitchen, since only trained devotees can properly understand and follow all these rules.

Deep-frying should be done in pure ghee, if possible. Ghee used for frying should be regularly replaced.* If ghee is not available or cannot be made, you may use vegetable oil, such as coconut, mustard, sunflower, or peanut oil.

*Ideally, ghee and other oils should be used only once, since each reheating reduces their digestibility. An expert Deity cook will use a minimum amount of ghee for deep-frying and use the remainder for making halava or mixing into rice

Kitchen Utensils
As far as possible, a cook should avoid using plastic utensils or containers. Spices are best stored in porcelain or clay containers, or may be stored in brass or stainless steel containers.
The best cooking pots are made of stone. Clay pots (used only once) are ideal for cooking rice. Bell-metal and copper pots, unless tinned on the inside, should not be used for any sour preparation (those containing tomatoes or yogurt), but are very good for all other preparations. Cast iron, if not rusted, may be used for frying but never for boiling; stainless steel, although not considered very high class, may also be used. Cooks should avoid using aluminum pots (they are poisonous) or those made of enameled steel, which can chip and contaminate the offering.

REF Pancharatra Pradipa <1-1prep.doc>
Download Pancharatra Pradipa HERE

From the Madhwas'

Devara Puja paddati (procedure)

  I follow the outlined procedure which was thought to me by guru. I
  appreciate your input and let me know the procedure I am following
  is correct.

  Nittya Devara Puje

  1. Prathah Sandhya Vandane

  2. Nirmalya Visarjane

  3. Abisheka to Sudarshana Saligrama with Ambrani suktha

  4. Abisheka to Lakshi with Sree Suktha

  5. Abisheka to Prana Devaru with Purusha Suktha
.....abhisheka to Shri PranaDevaru with BaLitthA Suukta.
Abhisheka to Shri Pranadevaru can also be done with Shri Hari Vayu Stuthi and
Shri Sumadhvavijaya shlokas (Ref: Devapooja paddati by Shri Dheerendra Char, Chamarajpet)

  6. Abisheka to Naga and Garuda Devaru

  7. Abisheka to Raghavendra Swamy
  8. Shodashopachara puje
  9. Panchamrutta Abisheka
  10.Mahabisheka to Sudharshana Saligrama
  11. Alankara
  12. Halagarathi/Mangalarathi
  13. Nievedya
  13. Mahamangalarthi
  14. Mantra pushpa

More seva puja procedures from the Madhwa line:

12.  Peeta Puja:
13.  SALIGRAMA PUJA:  At this stage, we solicit the Lord to arise, informing
him that arrangements for His bath have been made.  Then we offer him the
five courtisies:  Arghyam, Padhyam, Aachamaniyam, Madhupargham,

If time permits, Panchamrutha Abhisheka (Optional)  maybe performed.
Ksheera (Milk) abhisheka may be performed if desired.


Now pour the water in the snaniya Kalasa into the Shankha & ringing the bell
with your left hand perform Abhisheka to the Lord while chanting the Purusha
Suktha manthra.  Then do Abhisheka with the water in the Poorna Kalasa.
Then take out the Saligramas & the Prathimas from the Abhisheka plate one by
one & dry them with the special napkin kept for this purpose & place them in
their respective Sampushtas.  The Abhisheka water then should be collected
into the Theertha pathra.
a.  Offer Padhyam & Aachamaniyam from the cups intended for this purpose to
the Lord.
b.  Vasthram to be offered.  (Clothes- generally Phulvasthra (garland of
c.  Aabharana Samarpanam (Jewels)
d.  Chakradhi, Dasa Ayudhani Samarpanam (Discus & ten weapons).
e.  Yagnyopavitham Samarpanam (Sacred thread)
f.  Sandhya Vandhana Arghyam Samarpanam (offer on behalf of Lord Sandhya
Arghyam with Vishnu Gayathri)
g.  Chandana Samarpanam (Sandalwood paste)
h.  Akshatha Samarpanam
i.  Thulasi Pushpa Archana with Kesavadhi 24 nAmavali,  Dasavathara Namavali
if time permits 564 Brahma suthra Namavali & Vishnu Sahasra Namavali.
j.  Pushpam Samarpanam (Flowers, Flower gardens etc...)
k.  Aavarna Devatha puja
l.  Dhooparathi (Show incence with ringing of bell
m.  Deepaarthi- Thrivarthi (Show lighted lamp with three wicks with ringing
of bell & gong or cymbals- jankati)

14.  NEIVEDHYAM:  The Dwadasha stothra has to be chanted during the offering
of Neivedhyam.

Note:  Only food cooked on charcoal fire observing sanctity should be
offered bland food without prohibited spicings should be offered.
Sugarcandy, Raisins, Coconut, milk, curd, ghee, dried fruits may be used at
all times as cooking is not required for these items.   During Shaka vratha
periods, the items prohibited shoudl be omitted.

On Ekadashi days, Sugar candy, Raisins, fruits may be used but should be
consumed only next day at the time of pArana.

The items of food intended for neivedhyam should be placed in front of the
Lord after drawing a square on the floor with the letter Om.  Sprinkle a few
drops of ghee on each of the food items excepting milk & curd.  This is
called Abhigaram.  Pour pure water in the Shankha adding thulasi leaves.
Close the opening in the Shankha with the right hand & chant the manthra "Om
namo Narayana" 8 times & then chanting the Vishnu Gayathri & the Gayathri
manthra sprinkle the shanka water on the food.  Then show the six mudhras.
Then chant the manthras of Pariseshanam & Aaposanam with the chanting of
Pranaya, Apanaya, Swaha six manthras & thus requesting the Lord to partake
of the food.  Offer water to drink.  Then chant the concluding manthras.
Offer water to the Lord to wash His Hands, Mouth, Face, Legs as also for
Aachamaniyam.  Offer varieties of fruits, Thamboolam, Dakshina, Chandana.
Offer Dhoopaarathi.
MAHA NEERAJANAM:  Show a lighted lamp with 5 wicks with ringing of bell &
SAMARPANAM:  Ending manthra & offering of flowers.  Offering of Rajopachara
like chathra, Chamara etc....
SANKA BRAMANAM:  Pour water in the Shankha with Thulasi leaves & wave it
around in front of the Lord to counter evil eye.  This water should be
sprinkled on our head & should not be partaken while taking Theertha.  Offer
Pradakshana, Namaskaras with Sthothra & Prarthana Manthras.
Parivara Devatha Puja, Ramaa Neivedhyam,  Peetha Aavarana Devatha Visarjanam

Putting back the Sampushtas containing the Saligramas & the Prathimas in the
Krishnaanjana box, closing it & replacing it to its pedastral.  VAISWADEVAM,

bhAratIramaNamukhyaprANA.ntargata shri kR^iShNArpanamasthu


Do you believe in Hindu rituals & worshiping Deity.If you have full faith,then you can recite mantra which has been given below for a male native and for female native the appropriate mantra can be suggested in accordance with her name and planetary configuration as evident from her chart.But the following steps are necessary for every one.Â

But before reciting at least few steps must be done which are as under-

1-Take bath daily before sitting for Dev Poojanam.

2-Pavitrikarnam-Om apavitrah pavitrova sarvavasthanggatopiva yah smret pundrikakchhah sah: Vahyabyantrah: suchih: Om punat,Pundarikakchhah: punat,Pundarikakchhah:Punatu.

3-Acmanam-Om Amritopastaran masi swaha-drink one spun of water

Om Amritopastaran masi swaha-drink one spun of water

Om satyam yasah: sriyarmayi srih: sryatam swaha:

4-Sikha Bandhanam-If you have please make tie,else read this mantra

Chiddaruni mahamaye divyatejah: samanvite

Tistha devi sikha madhye tejo vridhim kuruswame

5-Pranayam-At least one Pranayam with following mantra

Om Bhuh: Om Bhuvah: Om swah: Om Mahah: Om Janah: Om Tapah: Om Satyam Om tat saviturvarenyam bhargo devasya deemahi deyo yonah: Prachdayat

Om Apo jyotir raso amritam braham bhuwah: sah: Om.

6-Nyasah: wash with fresh water & make pure following body parts to prepare to worship-means you are ready to worship with all your might.

Om vangme asyestuh:(To mouth)

Om nasorme pranostuh:(to nostrills to breath in fresh air)

Om Achharorme chharastuh:(to both the eyes-so you may see what ought to be seen)

Om Karnyorme srotramastuh:(to both the ears-so that you can hear what should be heard only)

Om bahyorme balamyastuh:( to both the soldier joint place-So that you can do what is permitted by law and society and country men)

Om Urvorme ojostuh:(to both the Thighs-so that you can walk on the right path only)

Om Arishta nime angani Tanasatanva mea sah: santu( to the whole body- that now the whole body parts are prepared ready worshiping)

7-Prithvi Pujnam-with following mantra:-

Om prithvi twyadhrita loka devi twam Vishnuna dhrita. Twam cha dharay mam devi Pavitram kuru cha asnam

8-Deep Pujanam-Light a Deepak with Ghee only except in winter.In winter use Til Oil to light Deepak.

Om Agnirjyuotiragnih: swaha:........................


yotih: swaha:

9-Guru Poojanam & deity poojnam-Take a book -''Gayatri Sanchhipta Havan Vidhih:'' and recite whole Deo Pujanam- and there after you are ready to worship your deity. 10-Deo Pujanam- From ''Gayatri Sanchhipta Havan Vidhih:''Â

11- Recite- Kavach-Argala-Keelkam as many times as you can and after this follow the below command to woship deity.Â

12-Now you can recite daily at least 108 times of mantra which runs as following Patneem Manormam Dehi Manovrittanusarneem Tarneem Durga Sansar Sagrasya Kulod bhawam(Sloka 24th of Argala Stotra).at least 108 times daily.

13-Perform Artih:-As early as possible in morning.