A personal altar is an integral part of a sattvic lifestyle. Inviting and connecting with the cosmic energy is a part of the daily Hindu routines. Connecting with the divine is embedded in every mundane everyday activity. Last week we noted the significance of kolams. Read up our other blog posts about sattvic food, and the significance of sattvic lifestyle. Even the daily rituals and routines are meant to establish a connection with the divine cosmos, grow deep roots, and remain connected the cosmic events. Ancient Rishis and sages, who tested and perfected these techniques, always remind us to focus on the cosmic events. When we celebrate and connect with the more significant cosmic events, the cosmic energy rewards that intention with bounty and benevolence. It is almost as if the sages want us to remember that we, too, are on a cosmic journey. When we align our lives to the infinite trajectory rather than the ups and downs of one’s daily life. After all, the view from up above, the larger picture of life, is much different.
Hindus all around the world have a dedicated space, an altar, to house a personal temple. This space is exclusively dedicated to connecting with the divine. A more significant power center, housing the concentrated cosmic energy, exists in the temple. A Hindu temple is a powerhouse of consecrated cosmic energy. During a temple visit one can receive a hefty dose of the life-positive radiating cosmic energy. This energy can be stored in sacred objects at home.
Daily chanting, sacred mantras being played at home or space, helps to maintain and boost the cosmic energy center and receiver that has been established at the altar. When energized, the deities are always responding to people who need to raise to the higher cosmic energy to conduct business in their daily lives. Working with higher consciousness also reduces our karmic burden.
An altar need not be extensive or elaborate; it can be a dedicated space on a shelf. Some folks transform a large kitchen cabinet into an altar space. An altar becomes the heart of the home and an essential part of the house or most frequented part of the residence. Many set up an altar in a small table in the living room. Some folks can afford to open up more space by dedicating a place for worship. Such rooms have elaborate decorations, such as carved doors with images of gods installed at the doorway.
The frequency of worship at the altar also varies. A devotee of Shiva might offer worship on Mondays and on Pradosham evenings. When a person loves Ganesha or his brother Muruga, they may give worship on Tuesday and the 4th quarter of the moon. Devotees of Shakti offer worship on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Navaratri. Others might offer worship at the altar only on festival days or special days such as birthdays, anniversary, or praying before going on a journey, or hospital. This blog post explains how to celebrate celestial dance of Shiva. Many people offer worship every day. Seasonal worship at the altar is also common. Read more about the seasonal celebration blog post.
Worship and prayers can be in the form of chanting mantras, singing bhajans, or reading scriptures. It is common to invite family and friends to gather for these worship sessions. Both men and women can perform worship and the receive the blessing on behalf of the participants. Many intimate devotional gatherings are often all women, and a home altar becomes an informal gathering place.
Living Sattva is delighted to share the altar of Shri Jyothi Kumar. He has a large family altar in his native village. He is a bachelor and lives with roommates in Rajasthan, India. He has a small altar in his room. His altar has an image of Vinayaka gifted by his grandma, and Shiva lingam, and Nandi gifted by his mother. He offers worship every day. His father keeps a seasonal altar. Please watch this video for his altars.
You, too, can establish an altar. It can be as elaborate and as complete as you want it to be. For best results, spend some time every day at the altar. Ensure you have your favorite deities at the altar. Offer incense and light at the altar. Sometimes Feel free to as your questions below and we will answer them. Have a wonderful time setting your altar. May you have many beautiful breakthroughs while you worship at the sacred shrine and space.