Some years ago at the BYC I found the word „Fire Puja“ on the schedule.
It was something that was supposed to be early in the morning around 6:30. I thought it might be a special kind of meditation and since I was in the mood of starting the day early and to do meditation in a group, I decided to go there.
The Sanskrit word for “offering” is “puja” or has also the meaning “to please.” So a puja is a traditional ritual of healing and purification.
A fire puja is more specific and is a buddhist ceremony that is used to cleanse the environment and beings in this environment.
It is said that it grants blessings and done on a regular basis can stimulate peace within and even peace on our whole planet. It also can build up immense merits of wisdom and compassion towards ourselves and others.
The main intention of the offering is to dissolve obstacles to enlightenment and to eliminate imperfections. Imperfections that can be occur by any kind of harmful actions, for example broken promises.
Also I was told it can be an ideal ritual for sick people to purify from decease, negative karma and is also done to receive a higher rebirth.
So generally spoken it can support the prevention of all negative conditions in daily life.
As I approached the yoga village I saw a small group of people sitting already there in a circle. I got more and more curious and joined them silently, not knowing what is going to happen. I can remember that we were sitting and waiting for quite a bit and I decided to meditate on my own until we were going to start.
When I opened my eyes again I saw a man, building up a tiny altar out of sand and flowers in the middle of our circle. I was wondering what this is going to be and stopped my meditation to watch the process.
There were some small bowls and cans with oil and ghee and also a bigger one with brown earth or dust. After the small altar was finished, the guru startet to mix oil, ghee and dust together. The fire was already burning and I remember the smell of a nice but strong incense, I couldn’t define.
Then everything started. We were chanting and reciting mantras in a call and respond way with the guru, while watching the fire. At some point everybody was allowed to throw a little portion of the „oil-earth-mud“-mixture into the fire.
To be honest, it is very hard to explain what we were doing, but I found it very special and yet comforting. Therefore I would highly recommend to visit one of these pujas or rituals if you ever happen to have the opportunity.
I attended some pujas during my travels to India as well and I guess every guru or spiritual teacher has his own way to do it. 🙂
Find some links here for a short overview what a puja can look like: