Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Our Ancestral Puja Tradition - 01

In this post, I shall describe our ancestral daily Puja tradition. Our traditional God (kuladevatā/ कुलदेवता) is lord Nārāyaṇa /  श्रीश्री नारायण/ শ্রীশ্রী নারায়ণ in the form of śālagrāma śilā / शालग्राम शिला / শালগ্রাম শিলা and in the guise of śrīdhara / श्रीधर / শ্রীধর.

I was never interested in rituals or religion for that matter. Therefore I have not been trained in the performance of Puja like my father (who was trained by his grand mother, Anila Bala). However, with age comes maturity and with travel comes the ability to discern the right from wrong. Eventually I realized the cultural significance of these dying customs, especially in the context of a state like West Bengal, where the violent onslaught of Islam, Christian British colonists  and shameless and Godless communists has almost driven the Bengal Brahmanical tradition to extinction.

Traditionally for Bengalis, before the main Puja, worship of five Gods (pañcadevatā pūjā / पञ्चदेवता पूजा/ পঞ্চদেবতা পূজা) must be performed. Pañcadevatā pūjā involves the worship of - gaṇeśa ( gaṇapati ), sūrya ( āditya ), durgā, śiva and viṣṇu (nārāyaṇa) / गणेश ( गणपति ), सूर्य ( आदित्य ), दुर्गा, शिव, विष्णु (नारायण) / গণেশ ( গণপতি ), সূর্য় ( আদিত্য ), দুর্গা, শিব, বিষ্ণু ( নারায়ণ ). This custom is somewhat similar to the Panchayatna Puja of the Smarta's of South India. However in our family by Pañcadevatā pūjā we mean - Gaṇeśa, Durgā, śiva, Lakṣmī, and Sarasvatī ( गणेश, दुर्गा, शिव, लक्ष्मी, सरस्वती / গণেশ দুর্গা শিব লক্ষ্মী সরস্বতী ). After its completion we move on to the worship of Nārāyaṇa.

In general, for each of the steps, wherever applicable, I have given the hymns in English transliteration, Sanskrit and Bengali. I have also given the meanings of the hymns.

On a related note, I personally follow the traditional method prescribed in standard नित्यकर्म / নিত্যকর্ম texts - that is -  gaṇeśa ( gaṇapati ), sūrya ( āditya ), durgā, śiva and viṣṇu (nārāyaṇa) [ which I have discussed somewhat briefly my other blog at the post called "Pre-Requisistes of Nitya Puja/ General Puja"]. In addition to that I also worship 7 other deities daily - that is, I worship 12 deities / Gods daily. However, I shall not describe that in this current series of posts. These next few articles are about the traditional Puja of my ancestors in Chandernagore.
श्री श्री नारायण जिऊ

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