The three levels of Hindu worship include Nitya, Naimittika and Kamya. Nitya is the daily ritual of offerings and prayers. Naimittika centers around holidays when large groups of Hindus come together to worship in temples and holy places. Kamya is pilgrimage to holy sites throughout the country of India.
Though worship is seen as a communal act by Jews, Muslims and Christians, it is much more of a personal practice in the Hindu faith. An individual may have deities that are of special importance to his life. A large portion of Hindu worship takes place in the home, and rather than being called to prayer or coming to the temple on a Sabbath day, Hindus come and go in their holy houses.
A devout Hindu is expected to worship inside her own home three times per day. Families should worship together. Small statues, also known as icons, represent the various household deities. Prayers are recited and offerings of sweets, fruits and flowers are made on the shrines. A special thread may be worn over the shoulder during the recitation of the gods' names and personal mantras.
Hindu worshippers visit their local temples as needed and on holy days. Many thousands may gather to pay tribute to the gods and to receive blessings from the priest. Temples are often located on the tops of hills or near water. Some holidays are observed not in a temple, but in some other special holy place, such as the Ganges river, in which worshippers bathe to cleanse their souls of sin every 12 years.
Pilgrimage, though not a requirement of Hinduism, is one way that some choose to worship. Sites where gods have appeared or manifested themselves are popular locations for pilgrimages, but worshippers may also travel to distant temples, mountains, rivers and waterfalls. Varanasi is a popular destination, as it is said to be the home of Shiva.
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