In the hindu ritualistic vedic poojas, every diety is worshipped by offering 16 services called the “Shodasa Upacharas”. Poojas have basically a two fold purpose. The first is the Baahya Pooja or the rituals we perform outwardly for the Deity, like offering flowers and fruits, incense, neivedhyam etc. It is an expression of our faith and reverence.Perfoming it in a systematic, time tested ritualistic manner is better as it gives better results. It also gives you discipline and better satisfaction & peace of mind.
But apart from that there is a deeper and greater spiritual significance behind the rituals and that is why they were prescribed and practiced by millions of our ancient seers. Understanding this,is known as Antah-Pooja. A vedic ritual is never a meaningless act. They all have deep rooted spiritual, philosophic significance.
Baahya Pooja is the formula. Antah Pooja is understanding and applying the formula to get better results and achieve greater heights. These are the steps involved in the Baahya Pooja:
- Avahana – Welcoming the deity.
- Asanam – Offering seat
- Padyam – Washing the feet
- Aarghyam – Washing the hands
- Achamanam – Offering water to drink (to wash mouth).
- Snanam – Bathing
- Vastram – Offering clothes.
- Yagnopaveetam – Offering sacred thread.
- Aabharanam – Offering ornaments
- Gandham – Offering Sandalwood paste
- Pushpam – Offering flowers and doing pooja.
- Dhoopam – Offering perfumed Incense
- Deepam – Offering a lighted lamp.
- Naivedyam – Offering food.
- Taamboolam – Offering beetle leaves with caustic and beetle nut
- Pradakshina Namaskaram – Circumambulation and salutation of the deity.
Tamboolam consits of beetle leaves, beetle nut and caustic represent the three avasthas or states of the human being – jagrad, swapna and shushupti or waking, dreaming and sleeping states. Offering Tamboolam is the effort to go beyond these states – i.e. to the nirvikalpa state. When we offer Tamboolam to a woman or a kanya girl, we see them as a form of Goddess Durga and thus salute them as such.
The Tamboolam plate typically consists of the following:
Fruits – Bananas, Apples, Oranges etc.
Neivedhyam like Sundal, Chakkara Pongal etc.
Small gifts for kanya girls like Chains, Bracelets, Earrings etc.
Blouse Bits for Married Women.
Many times, we also offer little silver kumkum containers, sarees etc to important women in the family and our elders. It is customary to salute their feet and humbly offer the Tamboolam, seeking their blessings.