The Art of Worship: Discovering Devotion’s Subtle Beauty

Worship, often associated with hand gestures of prayer or gratitude, is a practice of expressing reverence to a higher power or deity. Rooted in religious and spiritual beliefs, it involves rituals, prayers, and sacred acts showcasing dedication to one’s faith. In Hinduism, forms of worship include Puja (prayer), Aarti (ceremony of light), Dhyān (meditation), Kirtan (singing hymns).

At the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Saskatoon, Canada, where I frequently spend my time, diverse activities unfold. The dedication, humility, and love in participants’ actions are striking. The pujaris’ meticulous care for the murtis demonstrates deep servitude. Volunteers prepare prasad with sincere prayers, embodying devotion through service.

Within the main hall, scenes of children bowing to murtis coincide with grandmothers narrating scriptures to their grandchildren. Melodic bhajans fill the air, sung with unwavering conviction. These varied actions prompt the question: Is worship limited to standing before murtis and praying?

Bhakti, the love for God, is described by Bhagwan Swaminarayan in the Shikshapatri as immense affection combined with knowledge of divine glory. Worship, then, becomes a pure emotion expressing gratitude, attachment, and fulfillment. The Shrimad Bhagvat Mahapuran outlines Navdha Bhakti, nine ways of devotion including listening, serving, and respecting God and devotees. Though modes differ, the underlying emotion unites worshippers.

While a physical place of worship isn’t essential, it enhances spiritual practice. In Hinduism, the mandir is God’s abode, fostering closeness and deep connections. It’s not the structure but the divine images within that cultivate devotion. The mandir serves as both God’s home and a platform for self-expression and elevation.

All Hindus, offer devotion to a form of God and express their love. It is not the stone craving or the architecture that generates the feeling of devotion, instead, it is the sacred images of God present inside the structure, that help one attach their mind and soul to the beauty of God. Mandirs are not just monuments but rather are places where Hindus believe that God fully resides.

People of all ages engage themselves in various activities that seem like just activities on the surface but are really expressions of their love- transformative acts of worship. My mandir is not only the home for God, but also a platform for individuals to explore themselves, express themselves, and elevate themselves. This is how I realized that my mandir ignites implicit forms of worship.

– Kritika Parmar, Civil Engineer, Saskatoon, Canada

Image courtesy of collage provided

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