Significance and Meaning of Aarti Ritual
Why do Indians perform Aarti ritual?
According to the Wikipedia Aarti, also spelled arti, arathi, aarthi, or arati is ritual in Hindu Religion in which light from wicks soaked in Ghee (purified butter) or Camphor is offered to one or more Deities. Aartis also refer to the songs sung in praise of the deity, when offering of lamps is being offered.
Aarti is an act of respect and love performed by Indians. It is normally performed as a mark of worship and to seek blessings from God or to welcome the guests or on auspicious occasions. For performing Aarati, five small lamps with wicks made of cotton wool and filled with ghee or oil is arranged in a small metal tray along with a conch-shell filled with water, auspicious leaves or flowers, incense or lighted camphor etc. The lamps in the tray are lit and the tray is rotated in a circular motion in front of the deity of the person to be welcomed. The purpose is this act is to ward off evil effects and malefic influence of the 'evil eye'!
How to perform Aarti to Hindu Deities?
In most Temples Aarti to the Deity is performed on a Daily basis. This Aarti to God is accompanied by clapping and singing. The hymns in an Arti which are in praise of the Deities have been composed by Saints and evolved devotees and is an easy medium of worship to the manifest form of God. As the worshipers spiritual emotion for the Deity he worships is awakened during Arti he gains a spiritual experience. The Campor represents our desires which burn out completely without leaving a trace when we take refuge in God. With the Aarti comes the flame which signifies light. The lamps lit allow us to see the beauty of the Lord in all his glory. When singing an Arti, besides clapping mostly musical instruments are played in the background. When offering Arti the platter containing this lit lamp should be waved in a full circle in front of the Deity. The Arti platter, however, should not be waved above the head of the Deity, but should be moved from the Anahat to the Adnya Chakra of the Deity. The significance of placing our hands over the flame and touch our eyes and top of the head at the end means that ‘may the light that illumined the Lord light up my vision and may my thoughts be pure and beautiful.’ At the end of Aarti, Prasad which is first offered to God is distributed amongst devotees. It is believed that consuming Prasad emanate positive vibrations.