In Hinduism Paarayana is different from Puja.
Paarayana is the recitation of a particular Sloka, Sahasranama, or Astothra of one Deity or any number of Deities daily.
In this, one need not follow very strict rules of Puja, like Dhik Bandana, Kavacham.
This can be performed at any time , preferably in the morning or in the evening.
A Naivedya is to be offered with Aarthi,(Naivedya and mantras please read my post on Naivedya)
It is recommended that either Honey ar dried Grapes be offered.
These two are suggested for they do not have any Dosha or deity specific.
In a Puja strict rules are followed and normally the Puja is initiated by a Guru.
One has to wear Pancha kachcham(How to wear a Pancha Kachcham, please read my post )
Poojas are performed either in the mornings or evenings.
It is recommended that Siva Pooja be performed in the evening; others may be performed either in the morning or in the evening.
It is customary to offer a specific Naivedya for a particular Deiy; Modhaka for Ganesha,Sarkarai Pongal for Ambika/Vishnu and Maha Naivedyam for Siva.
( Maha Naivedya- Hot cooked Rice with a spoon ful of Ghee on top of it with two teaspoonful of cooked Thoordal)
There is another specific Puja where Deities representing the Five elements of Nature, Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether are worshiped daily .
This is to be performed in the morning.
As this Puja has Five Deities, this is called the Panchayatana Puja.
This was made popular by Sri Adi Sankaracharya.
There is a misconception that only those who worship Siva alone can perform this.
It is incorrect.
The reason for the prevalent view is that people mistake the term ‘Smartha‘ means those who worship Siva.
Smartha is One who follows the Smriti, that which is retained by Memory, as against Sruthi that which heard(Vedas)
We have a host of Smritis,
Sukra Smriti. Bruhaspati Smriti.
All those who follow either of these my perform the Panchayatana Puja.
Sankaracharya systematised the worship into Six Systems, The Shan Mathas(read my post on this)
In the Panchayatana Puja,Subrahmanya is not included, but it may be included by having a small Silver Spear(Vel) or a small Silver Snake Idol.
The Sankalpa depends on one’s desires.
The best sankalpa is praying for the welfare of all beings, living and non Living.
The mantras for each Devata may be Astothra .
Sahasranama is time-consuming.
The Five elements and the represented Murthis.
Jala, Water -Ganapati
Here on may find the Vedic representation of the principles of nature.
This may sound slightly different as Aditya represents Vayu, while Vishnu who is normally associated with Prithvi is seen representing Space as Vishnu is an Amsa of Parama Purusha who represents Space as well.
‘Akasyatipo Vishnu Agnischaiva Maheswari,
Vayo Suryah Kshtir Isah Jalan Nyasa Ganathipa’
There is school of thought which prescribes different ways of placing the idols in the Puja.
That is to place the Murthy which one traditionally worships as prescribed by his Kula Sampradaya.
The other method is to place the Ishta Devata, Preferred personal God in the center and place all the others around it.
Some use natural Stones instead of Murthis.
Surya Crystal from Vallam Tamil Nadu.
Ganesha Red Sonebhadra from Sone,Bihar.
Vishnu Saligrama from Gandaki, Nepal.
Shiva, Bana Linga from Narmada, M.P.
Ambika Swarnamukhi from Swarna Mukhi from Andhra Pradesh.
if you plan to use small Idols ensure that they are not taller than your thumb.
Panchayatana Puja Procedure.
Start with Ganapati, Adithya,Subrahmanya,Ambika, Shiva and Vishnu.
Follow the Link for detailed mantras for Panchayatana Puja.
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