Temple Worship Procedures
Temples are the connecting points of high importance in our religion and culture. The absolute necessity of the temple worship is stressed throughout by the great saints of the religion. It is not very difficult to realize the important role they play in cultivating the spiritualism in people. It is the place for collective worship. Given these significant roles of the temples it is required to have some discipline to be followed in the temples for having the real expected out of the worship. Here are a few one can follow to set that harmony. Most of these are in general applicable to all Hindu temples though a few are specific to shaivite temples.
- Going to the temple with a clean body. Legs and hands shall be cleaned at entering the temple.
- Going to the temple adorned with holy symbols like the Holy Ash, Rudraksham.
- Taking something to offer to the Lord. It is an offering out of devotion. It would be nice if the offering is the one required in the worship.
- Not to enter the temple with foot wear.
- Prostrating in front of the flag column (dwajastaMbham) (towards the North) on entering the temple.
- Not to prostrate anywhere else in the temple.
- not to prostrate to anybody else in the temple premises.
- Taking the permission of nandi dEvar mentally before entering His abode.
- Saluting the elephant headed Lord enter the Lord's abode.
- In Lord shiva's abode, engage the mind in the thinking of the God. Avoid any gossip. Temple is not the place for gossiping. Can sing or chant His names loudly and sweetly if it would not disturb others. Otherwise it could be done internally without making noise.
- The Holy ash given as the blessings should be worn saying "shivAya namaH". It should not be spilled on the ground or wasted.
- It is normally a procedure to offer something to the priest whose whole life should be in the service of the Lord.
- Circumambulating the Lord saluting the Goddess and the deities in the temple. The circumambulation would be done at least for three times. On special occasions like pradoshham the are special circumambulation methods like somasukta pradhaxinam are followed.
- While in the temple either the Holy five letters or any praise could be chanted.
- Before coming out of the temple go to the place of sandikeshwar and take permission for the materials which after worship are taken out of the temple as blessings. One must not take anything out in excess and things taken from the temple should be only as the mark of blessings. If nothing is taken it is the normal practice to wipe (rub) the hands together in his place.
- Should do something in the promotion of the temple physically or materially or whichever is convenient and required.
- On coming out of the temple, again prostrate in front of the flag column towards the north. Sit facing the north and meditate on the God chanting the Holy five letters.
- While inside the temple should not make the place dirty in any way or make any noise.
- Going to the temple at least once in a week with the family.
The mind should be focussed on the Lord like the dust of iron that stick to the magnet. A worship with such an orientation would have very good effect in us by the grace of the Almighty.