The common Hindu ritual of Aarati is done at the end of all pujas. Aarati is done by the lighting of camphor and moving it in clockwise direction in front of the idol of worship to the music and rhythm of mantras or devotional stuties (hymns). The lamp is then passed around and the devotees ,as if ingesting the light ,move their palms on the flame and touch their eyes and heads as blessing .
Camphor is crystallised fragrance. If left in the open, it evaporates. The thoughts of the individual form the subtle fragrance of his personality, crystallised as the ego. In ancient temples the sanctum sanctorum is generally dimly lit. The idea is that in the light of the burning down of the ego alone,that has surrendered to the Lord ,can one see his divine visage.
The Aarati is a devotional hymn seeking the lords grace and blessings sung to musical accompaniment that helps the mind to attune itself to the Lord in thankfulness.
After the Aarati one encircles the flame with the palms drawing the light of the flame to illuminate the inner being, to enlighten our vision and brighten our intellects. So one gently touches the eyes and the head. Peace and tranquillity descends deep into the heart engulfing one in a quiet joy. This sweet mental mood is called (Prasad ). To express this joy of a pure mind, generally something sweet is distributed after the Aarati .
The Aarati has one, two or even three tiered flames and is very beautifully decorated. Sometimes the Arati lamp has a snake made on it facing the Lord. In Semitic and Asian religions the poisonous snake is representative of the ego. The outward facing hood signifies the ego surrendering at the feet of the Lord, resulting in the draining away of its poison .
Prarthna Saran, President Delhi Chinmaya Mission can be contacted at email@example.com