Aum Shri Gurave NamaH! Please note I have not created or manipulated any of these, these have been in practise in India since the earth was created, because Sanatana Dharma is as old as this earth, there is no prophet or middle man who asked people to follow this religion or killed them or forced themto follow this religion. This religion came into being in a very natural way like the human being came on this earth in a very natural way, humans were created by god in his own shadow, they never came out of monkeys or orangutans and humans have been on this earth since the earth was created.
"Puja Vidhanamu", meaning the method of performing puja or worship, as per sanatana dharma, above all no worship in sanatana dharma begins without worshipping Lord Ganesha, so he is the first and foremost to be worshipped or activated, though there is only one GOD, he has countless forms and names, I am using "He" to refer, but it is a combination of both musculine and feminine energies.
Sanatana Dharma is the oldest religion of the world, I am corrected by the Lord and as per him, "Sanatana Dharma is the cradle of all religions", this religion came into being with the creation of earth, so were vedas, which were given to four saints, so this religion is as old as earth itself, and this religion thrived in Indian subcontinent, and it thrives even today followed by some 800 million people, all the Mantras which are used in temples all over the world even today were given by one and only one GOD, and these were given at the same time when earth was created. This is not for any discussion, in fact most of the scriptures suggest "Not to discuss these valuable and sacred things with fools who do not understand".
So the time calculations were done in India by looking at the sky even before any other civilization even started to sprout.
Even before any civilization was heard of Sanatana Dharmi (Person who is born as Sanatana) in India were conducting these elaborate pujas and Yagnas.
Before one begins the puja, one need to check the name of the Kalpa, Manvantara, Year, Month, Season, Tithi, Paksha (Waning moon or waxing moon), Solstice, Star of that day for that place, name of the day like Saturday, this is to register your prayer on that particular space and time point.
It is like sending a request which gets registered and is answered.
without this the request or prayer might be lost in the huge cosmic thought currents.
Because thought is like electricity or current with positive or negative charge, it could be very small and weak and it can be very strong and huge, this depends on the mental capacity of an individual.
Anyway that is a different aspect, here I am trying to introduce to general readers how a puja as per sanatana dharma should be conducted or performed.
1 Kalpa contains around 14 Manvantaras, Current Kalpa is named Shweta Varaha,
1 Manvantara contains around 71 Mahayugas, current manvantara is Vyvasvata.
(Each Manvantara is named after the Manu who rules it, Manu is none but Noah as per Bible.)
1 Mahayugas contain four yugas, Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and Kali yuga,
Kali yuga (Current Yuga)
Names of year, current year is Vikrita, there are some 60 names of the years which cycle, which are called Samvatsaras, which started at the first year (at elapsed years zero) and runs continuously:
14. Vikrama (2000-2001)
15. Vrisha (2001-02)
16. Chitrabhānu (2002-03)
17. Svabhānu (2003-04)
18. Tārana (2004-05)
19. Pārthiva (2005-06)
20. Vyaya (2006-2007)
21. Sarvajeeth (2007-08)
22. Sarvadhāri (2008-09)
23. Virodhi (2009-10)
24. Vikrita (2010-11)
25. Khara (2011-12)
26. Nandana (2012-13)
Names of the Months, current one is Bhaadrapada ( 23 Aug till 22 Sep)
Names of other lunar months are:
Chaitra (March 22--April 20)
Vaishākh (April 21 --May 20)
Jyaishtha (May 21 --June 22)
Āshādha (June 23--July 22)
Shrāvana ( June 23-- Aug 22)
Bhaadra or, Bhādrapad (Aug 23 --Sep22)
Āshwin (Sep23--Oct 22)
Kārtik (Oct 23--21 Nov)
Agrahayana or, Mārgashīrsha ( Nov 22--Dec 21)
Paush (Dec 22--20)
Māgh (Jan 21--Feb 19)
Phālgun (Feb 20--Mar 21)
Then the position of the Sun, Solstice, North (Uttarayana) or South (Dakshinayana), Uttarayana is auspicious.
Tithi, which is Moon's position, it is either wanning (Krishna Paksha) or waxing ( Shukla Paksha), Shukla paksha is auspicious.
Nakshatra or Star in which Moon is posited, the best details are given in this site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nakshatras
Names of the day: Vaasara.
Ravi Vaasara: Sunday (Sun)
Soma Vaasara: Monday (Moon)
Mangala Vaasara: Tuesday (Mars)
Budha Vaasara: Wednesday (Mercury)
Bruhaspati Vaasara: Thursday (Jupiter)
Shukra Vaasra: Friday (Venus)
Shani Vaasara: Saturday (Saturn)
The names of the day coincide with names of the planets in Sanskrit but those which we use in English, only three Sunday, Monday and Saturday coincide, others don't in French,
we have Lundi for Lune, Mardi for Mars, Mercredi for mercury, Jeudi for Jupiter, Vendredi for Venus, Samdi for Saturn and Dimache for Sunday, so again Dimanche appears like the guy got tired on Sunday so he Demanche. :-))) just kidding.
Then you can add: your name, family name, etc.
Then comes Sankalpam, meaning determination, "that I will complete this puja no matter what".
In this we narrate the place, position, and purpose of puja and what all we are going to do in that puja. every puja has a purpose, there is no puja without a purpose or aim.
e.g. It could be simple like "Shiva Ratri Vratam Karishye", Lord Shiva 's Birthday is being celebrated.
Then we close all directions to our heart, (Dig Bandha) so that we can concentrate on our Lord, and in the end we open those directions or ways to our heart by performing Dig Vimoksha.
Now we are ready with Sankalpam, in front we have our diety's idol, we need something to focus on, beginners need soemting to focus and 99.9% humans are beginners.
Bell is rung repeatedly to initiate, Bell, Fire, Conche, Peeta, Dwara, Directions, Place, Home, City, Family, Water, Earth, Wind, all are worshipped at the same time, Bell when ever consciously or unconsciously it is rung it is supposed to call the gods and send the demons out of our heart and home or place etc.
hence a bell is used with a Mantra.
"Agamarthamntu Deva Nam, Gamanamarthamntu Rakshasham,
Kurve Ghanta ravam tatra devata vahana lankshanam
Agyanato Gyanato vapi kansya ghantna navadyeta
Rakshashanam Pishchanam ta deshe vastirbhaveta
Tasmatha sarvapratenena ghanta nadham prakaryeta"
Ghanta devatabhyo NamaH! "
I know it is very difficult for people who have no education in Sanskrit or Devanagari to say even one word from that mantra, but it is not impossible.
basically we are laying rules and conditions for each and every power in this world to follow them when ever you pray.
First is Ganesha Puja, which includes Kriya and Bhavana.
Kriya is you act and Bhavana is you feel it with 100% faith, if your puja lacks bhavana there is no use you repeat the Kriya million of times, but with Bhavana alone still one can cross this material world into the spiritual or mental world.
But Kriya has its own importance, the puja is structured in such a way it apperas you are requesting the deity to visit your home, and then it is up to you how you are going to treat your guest.
one might stick to just Namaskara or Salut.
or one might perform 100's of things to appease the Guest.
So we request Lord Ganesha to visit your home and the focus is his idol.
So we request Ganesha of Material/Mental/Spiritual world to visit us, these are considered three worlds and there are 7 worlds, and 14 worlds.
We request him to be seated,
We request him to allow us to wash his hands,
We request him to allow us to wash his feet,
We request him to allow us to offer him water to drink,
We request him to allow us to give him a shower,
We request him to allow us to offer him clothes,
We request him to allow us to offer him Yagnopavitham, thread.
We request him to allow us to offer him water to drink,
We request him to allow us to offer him Gandham (Sandal wood powder or paste, it keeps body cool)
We request him to allow us to offer him scented water,
We request him to allow us to offer him Fruits,
We request him to allow us to offer flowers, or Axatas ( Rice mixed with little turmeric powder, Kumkum and a drop of water)
We offer him Dhoopam ( By lighting Incense sticks)
We offer him Light ( By lighting lamps)
We offer him Naivejyam (Sweats, preparations with rich food items, dry fruits, clarified butter, Milk, Honey, Coconut water, Sugar, water mixed with Sandalwood powder)
Then we also offer him our five minds.
We request him to accept it with water and axatas,
In India people after taking food like to have Tambulam, which is also called Pan, so we offer him pan made of rich ingredients, if not available we just offer him Axatas.
"It seems one of sages asked GOD, what should I offer you,
God said, what you have, Sage says I have nothing,
God said just offer me Axatas, Sage said I don't even have Axatas,
God said, then offer me water, Sage said I don't even have water.
God said, Offer me your inner self "
Then we offer him Dakshina, Prarthana
Then we offer Mantra Pushpam,
Then we offer him Pradakshina (circumbulations), Since God is present in the temple of our heart, we circumbulate ourselfs.
Then we offer Namaskara, it can be just by folding hands, or Shastanga ( By touching 8 corners of our body to the floor)
Then we offer him Umbrella, Music, Songs, Horse ride, Elephant ride, we treat him like a KING.
At this moment the Deity is present and waiting for your further activities.
Sing Artis, Poems, Songs, anything to praise and appease him.
here you can ask for his blessings........
Now it is time to send our guest back to his abode...Visarjana Puja
We repeat the whole acts again, and then ask for an apology, If there was any thing short, and we request the deity to return back to his abode with respect.
Then Atma Samarpana, We offer or surrender our soul to him.
Then we ask for apology.
Then we open our heart Dig Vimoksha, and this culminates the puja with some 21 upacharas.
this can be turned into a full or complete puja with more then 50 upacharas, depends on your capacity.
Same way Lord Shiva's puja is carried out but the mantras differ and Purusha Sukta is used mostly with each upachara (act).
The puja can be elaborated for e.g. one of the upachara is offering flowers, one can just offer one flower, or you can collect thousand types of flowers and offer them one by one chanting pursha sukta mantras. (Purusha Sukta is available with meaning under Mantra Yantra and Tantra.)
There is no end to this, like there is no end to the way you treat your guest.
one can read or listento the 1000 names of the deity
Depending on your capacity you can keep it simple or you can make very elaborate arrangements.
So this the simple way of carrying out a puja as per sanatana dharma.
Water is the main offering, followed by Axatas. offer the offerings Tirtha (Water mixed with camphor, etc.) and Prasadam (Sweats and other preparations)
Well few might say, this is for beginners, accepted, like every beginners need a focal point, idols are used for that purpose, this puja can be done by shouting the mantras in a loudspeaker, which is considered very low, or can be done by murmuring, which is OK, but the top level is if you can do this puja in the temple of your heart where your deity can be seen as you see a person, which is also called "Darshan", then Mantra, and then Yantra puja.
Yantra is a design on a copper plate which is distinct for each deity and deities reside in them, so it is a short cut to reach them.
To read about Yantras visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yantra
Kalsha Puja is another way to get blessings of "Poorna Khumbam", the place where all gods reside.
Apart from this, there is Surya Puja (Sun God), Navgraha puja (9 planets puja).
Again Kriya is a way to satisfy yourself that you have done a good job by treating your deity well, but bhavana or feeling with faith for that deity matters the most.
Someone said, the love for GOD should be like a women who surrenders herself to the wish and whim of her husband, one should surrender oneself to the deity.
Bottom line " What can you offer that GOD who is the creator of even five elements", so the top most thing one can offer is oneself.
Sianala, Montreal , Sep 2010.
Please note I have not created or manipulated any of these, these have been in practise in India since the earth was created, because Sanatana Dharma is as old as this earth, there is no prophet or middle man who asked people to follow this religion or killed them or forced themto follow this religion.
This religion came into being in a very natural way like the human being came on this earth in a very natural way, humans were created by god in his own shadow, they never came out of monkeys or orangutans and humans have been on this earth since the earth was created.Aum NamaH Shivaya!