Pūjā alternatively written as Pooja, means reverence or worship. Puja is any Hindu ceremonial, from a simple ritual in the home to an elaborate public festival, in which an image or other symbol of the god is worshipped. Its components vary from sect to sect and place to place but the puja is governed, at least theoretically, by rules in the shastras and other sacred texts and has probably changed little over the years.
The main motive of puja for the Hindu worshipper is making a spiritual connection with the divine. In Puja, a deity, considered to be manifest in its image, is treated like a special guest. This image or other symbol of the god serves as a means of gaining access to the divine. This icon is not the deity itself; rather, it is believed to be filled with the deity's cosmic energy. It is a focal point for honoring and communicating with the god or divine.
Puja is the act of showing reverence to a god, or another aspect of the divine through invocations, aartis, mantras, devotional songs, and other rituals. Puja is typically offered two or four times a day - at sunrise and sunset, and sometimes also at noon and midnight, especially in the temples. Most Hindus perform puja every morning after bathing and dressing but prior to taking any food or drink.
The worship consists of offering something to the icon of worship, such as flowers or food, and possibly lighting a lamp (diya) and incense (aggarbatti) and retrieving the blessed food and consuming it as prasad.
Puja can be performed individually or in gatherings. The ritual can be observed in silence or accompanied by prayers. It can be performed in the forms of meditation, austerity, chanting or scripture reading. Puja is commonly conducted in shrines in three different environments: in temples, in the home, and in outdoor public spaces.�Puja is usually performed by at least one member of the household every day. Puja is a means of honoring the gods or goddesses, whose presence in the home is believed to protect the family and to engender good fortune.