(Last Updated on : 05-09-2013)
Styles of worship in Indian temples have their origin in the When speaking about Indian temples, the very foremost element that mind recalls is the enormity and redefining immensity of these age-old edifices, sculpted by perhaps unknown designers. Temple building in India has been recounted since pre-Christian epoch, when even they were not given that much importance. In fact, history states that the time and effort that just went behind constructing a temple spanned from few days to several years, depending on the plan and projections of the temple periphery. It is also not unknown that religious scuffles, conflicts and differences were a bare order of the day. As such, religious division, classification and feelings of reigning supreme at times hindered faithful progression. With Hinduism noted to have been evolved foremost as a sacred faith and religion, it was some time since other religions began their unending journey of belief and reverence. Buddhism
had thus cropped up little later, paving way for the umpteen styles of worship in Indian temples making its way to ancient Indian history and even legends.
Styles of worship in Indian temples can basically be separated into the three cardinal Indian religious faiths of Hinduism
, Buddhism and Jainism. India being a country assimilating and admitting loads of diverse religious factions, it is rightly termed a 'sovereign socialist secular democratic republic' since post-Independence. As such, teeming massed is witnessed each day paying their hallowed visits to their respective religious institutions, espousing the style of worship in their own free will. For instance, Hindus are known to make an elaborate affair prior to visiting a temple. Devotees are known to take a dip in holy waters, followed by donning of new and clean clothes, after which they are also witnessed to buy the prasadam (offering to be dedicated to the Almighty), finally entering the sanctum bare-footed. The prasadam generally contains sweets, incense sticks, flowers and other fragrances. Hindu style of worship in temples in India also illustrates enormous footfall on auspicious days, when the temple priests take over and wield all action for a complete and successful culmination of a puja. It is also exhibited that followers of Hinduism are forbidden to consume any kind of non-vegetarian food prior to prayer offerings.
On the other side of faith and reverence stands the Buddhist style of worship in the Buddhist temple clusters in India. Buddhist religious places predominate in pristine white, evoking a strange feel of peacefulness and soulful belief. Buddhism rituals and practices comprise extremely intricate and meticulous prayers. Prayer or puja in Buddhism is chiefly a mode of verbalising dedication towards Almighty and making offerings to Him. Style of worship in Indian Buddhist temples scrupulously abide by meditation, forming a part of the ritualistic practices. The prayers are broached with the calling forth of a sangha. After the Sangha has been evoked, sadhaka or dharma students complete three prostrations, also popular as three gates or three aggregates. They comprise the body, the speech and the mind. The three prostrations also specify that the student has acknowledged the three bodies of Buddha: the Dharmakaya, the Smbhogakaya and the Nirmanakaya. While abiding by the ritualistic prostrations, it is customary that five parts of the body touch the ground. These five body parts include the two palms, the two knees and the forehead, representative of the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and space. The other renditions of the protestations typify the five wisdoms springing forth from the five Buddha families and the five Buddha energies.
To end the esteemed and extraordinary line-up of styles of worship in Indian temples appeared the Jain mode of worship. Jains are known to worship several other Tirthankaras (the twenty-four spiritual teachers, the last being Mahavira) besides Mahavira, the most admired of the holy lot. There exists another intrinsic fact within Jainism that they essentially dwell within the country itself, never feeling the necessity to branch outside the subcontinent. As such, they possess their own sweet mannerisms of venerating their Lords. Jainism is publicly known to utilise silver very generously. The Jain style of worship in Indian temples firstly commences with the obligation to refrain rigorously from meat, fruit and wine and drink only that water which has been utilised earlier by someone else for cooking. The judgment behind this thought is that if by drinking such water if a Jain does harm to any living organism in the water, the guilt for that rests not on the Jain who drinks it but on the person who first used it for cooking. For that very same reason a Jain monk never bathes, lest he should unwittingly destroy life. In times of offering prayers to Almighty, as such, Jainism never binds devotees under any stringent rules. A Jain monk is allowed to move about only on foot and he is also prohibited from lighting a fire or to breathe explicitly, for which a piece of white cloth is tied loosely around his mouth.
Followers of Jainism, prior to entering a Jain temple are always of the habit to tie a cloth around the mouth. By this process, they too prevent the unintended killing of living organisms in the air by inhaling them. Besides the alms bowl, a Jain monk is supposed to carry a broom to brush off the ground before them as they walk on it. This act is performed to clear away whatever living creatures that might be present on the walking path.