Worship, pooja, for Hindus takes place in temples and in adherents' homes. Pooja in homes may take place for such reasons as to bless a home, to celebrate birthdays and other personal events. When Hindus perform pooja to Lord Vishnu, one of the Hindu Trimurti, they may perform Satyanarayan Pooja. The name refers to Lord Satyanarayana who lived in Andrah Pradesh before 400 CE and whom Hindus revere as an incarnation of Vishnu. Satyanarayan Pooja takes place in five parts, and placement of deities represents a stage in the ritual.
Spread a new, clean cloth in a freshly cleaned room on a square, elevated platform, churang, that will serve as the altar. Sprinkle rice grains across the center of the cloth. Position the kalash on the rice. Drape a second piece of cloth over the kalash, and place a small image of Lord Vishnu on the cloth.
Perform pooja in the evening whenever possible. Gather around the altar, seated on the floor in lotus positions. Light the lamps while praying to the goddesses Lakshmi and Parvati, to the gods Vishnu, Ganesha, Shiva, to the gods of the directions, and to the sun and the nine planets. Arrange a flower garland over the image of Vishnu and of Ganesha.
Place turmeric pods, representing the gods Ganesha and Shiva, the goddesses Lakshmi and Parvati and the god Indra, on the altar to the north of the kalash. Worship the sun and nine planets by placing areca nuts on betel leaves. Then lay areca nuts on betel leaves on the altar to represent Indra and the other seven deities (Dikpalakas) of the universe's eight quarters.
Chant mantras. Offer the rice, flowers and lit lamps to Lord Satyanarayana. Finish the ceremony with all attendees taking turns reading from narratives related to Lord Satyanarayana from the Skanda Purana. Gather for a feast of the foods offered during Satyanarayana Pooja.
Satyanarayana Pooja Prasadam Recipe
Prepare sufficiently in advance to allow mixture to cool in refrigerator, if serving cold. Use a clean bowl. Combine milk, curd, honey, sugar, and ghee. Add saffron and cardamom, if using, and blend thoroughly.
Add remaining ingredients, fruits and basil leaves, mixing well. Refrigerate until cooled.
Place on Satyanarayana Pooja altar during ceremony after food cools. Alternately, place on altar at room temperature immediately after mixing all ingredients.
Items you will need
2 new pieces of cloth
Square platform for worship items
8 cups uncooked rice
Copper pot (kalasha)
2 small images of Vishnu and Ganesha
4 oil lamps
10 turmeric pods
10 betel leaves
18 areca nuts
2 flower garlands
Food offerings (prasadam), brought by attendees
Prasadam recipe (panchamrut):
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon curd
1 tablespoon honey
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon ghee
1 chopped ripe banana
1 chopped apple
2 teaspoons chopped dates
1.2 cup grapes
4 or 5 chopped basil leaves
1 teaspoon cardamom powder (optional)
1.2 teaspoons saffron (optional)
Indian grocers, found in most large U.S. cities, carry the necessary items for pooja. During Satyanarayana Pooja, devotees gather with a priest or head of household before an altar adorned with flowers, foods, lamps, and aromatic spices. Following the ceremony, attendees feast on the foods (prasadam) offered during pooja. Turmeric pods may be replaced with dried dates, almonds or areca nuts
- Louisiana Folklife: Satyanarayana Puja: A Hindu Prayer Service in South Louisiana
- BBC: Religons: Hinduism: Vishnu
- Shree Darshan: Satyanarayana Pooja
- Vastu Sai: Ashta Dikpalakas
- SVBF: Sathyanarayana Pooja
- Louisiana Folklife: Sri Satyanarayana Puja Folktales from the Skanda Purana
- Cook Indian Food: Panchamrutham Recipe
- alamo15/iStock/Getty Images