The representation of flowers in pooja

Flowers for worship

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful: they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.” 

The use of flowers is very common in the worship of deities. Flowers are used to make up garlands for the deity, and also often use to deposit at the feet of the Lord. When the Archagar says mantras, flowers are showered on the deities, who are in form of moorthy or picture. Flowers form part of the offering to God by the devotee. A pooja without flowers is an incomplete ritual.

Asper established principles, some flowers species are used for specific deities and some are not allowed at all. Such practice is described through stories in puranas. Flowers used in pooja are classified into Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. The classification is based on their colour, origin, shape and fragrance. The below situation would usually be discarded by a good Archagar for pooja:

  • Flowers partly eaten by insects. Would you offer yourself food partly eaten by insect?
  • Flowers picked up from the ground. Would you eat what is picked up from the ground?
  • Flowers that are not fully blossomed. Would you eat what is not ready or matured for consumption?
  • Flowers without fragrance. Would you cook without spice and flavor?
  • Flowers stolen from neighbourhood or without permission. Would you steal to eat? This is bad karma.

The above types of flowers are not considered to be Sattvic (pure) because you may not be  giving with a good heart. Remember well…God does not need anything from you! But the act of giving makes God and the univers reciprocate to you.

Only Sattvas and Rajas flowers are used for worship. For instance, Jasmine and white Lotus flowers are considered as Sattvic. Tamas flowers are discarded and are banned for worship. This includes red lotus and trumpet flowers.

However, in case flowers are not available, a mixture of rice and safran is an alternative. Leaves are also used for worship, such as Tulasi for Vishnu, Bilvam for Siva and Druva grass for Ganesha. In short, flowers are the simplest things that one can offer to the Lord, and the latter is pleased with the simplest offering. Similarly, the simplest thing could make you happy in life.

We all know thatMantra Pushpam, the Vedic hymn, is often recited at the time flowers are offered to the deity and the pooja is culminated with the mantra.

‘Om yopam pushpam veda, pushpavan prajavan pashuman bhavati

chandrama-va-apam pushpam

pushpavan prajavan pashuman bhavati

ya evam veda, yopamayatanam veda, ayatanam bhavati…’

The above mantra means, ‘He who understands the flowers of water, He becomes the possessor of flowers, children and cattle. Moon is the flower of water, He who understands this fact, He becomes the possessor of flowers, children and cattle. He, who knows the source of water, becomes established in himself…’

However, the meaning of the mantra is much more about flowers in the literal sense. The flower represents the knowledge about the truth that you gain. Which knowledge are we referring to? It is the knowledge of creation. Water, fire, air and other elements are the sources of creation. Gradually, in your spiritual evolution, you start to understand that fire is the origin of water; water is the source of heat; heat is fire; air is the source of water, and so it goes. The moonlight is a reflector of the sunlight in a pleasant form as does water. So once you gain knowledge about the process of Creation you understand that ‘all’ is ‘one’ and that you are part and parcel of this wholeness. You start discovering the source of wisdom, which could directly raise yourself to the level of Brahman.

Hence, symbolically you offer flowers to God and bow to Him.

Nanda Narrainen © 2018