Light offering ceremony or Aarti
Aarti is an ancient vedic sermon. The word ’Aarti’ means the offering of light and the dispersing of darkness.
A participant in the ceremony of offering light practices the yoga of devotion (Bhakti Yoga), which is a process of purification and getting closer to the God in course of which undesirable tendencies, like envy, anger, jealousy and attachment are got rid of. One of the objectives of participating in this ceremony is opening one’s heart centre (anahata chakra).
It is best to come to the ceremony after having a shower and in clean clothes. Each participant may take along a gift or offering (sweets, fruit, nuts, flowers, incense) and place it on the tray in front of the altar.
It is best to be open, relaxed and natural during the ceremony – this way you benefit more of what is going on. While mantras are being chanted by the person conducting the light offering ceremony, you can follow their translations in the Aarti booklet if you like – this way you can discover more about the contents of the ceremony. It is possible to use the musical instruments standing by the altar- drums, harmonium, bells, etc.
In course of the light offering ceremony, five basic elements are offered: earth (a flower), water, fire, air and ether (smoke of incense), but offerings may also include clarified butter (ghee), camphor, rice, sandalwood powder, vermillion - red powder produced either from curcuma or saffron- as well as water and sweets (prasad). After being blessed, both the fire and the sweets, and sometimes also water, are offered to the participants as well. Fire plays central role in the offerings, as it symbolises dissipating the ignorance that lies between a human being and the God.
In order to get better acquainted with the prayers and mantras used in the ceremony, you can purchase a bound booklet containing the texts and an audio CD with the music of the ceremony from the shop in Lilleoru. The depth of the lyrics and process of the light offering ceremony reveals itself gradually over time.