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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Symbols and Substance: Arthi ( with Camphor)

Arthi is the act of burning camphor or using a lamp with wick as an offering to God. It is one of the 16 steps in Puja. Burning camphor has a symbolic meaning. When it burns, it leaves nothing behind. When we burn camphor, we are symbolically requesting the Lord that we become one with Him/Her and leave no residue behind.

Also, when camphor burns, the center is white; the middle portion is golden color; there is the outer smoke. These represent Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva respectively. We already saw that these three in turn represent creation, protection and destruction.

While performing arti, the priest may utter the following mantra. “Thameva bhantham anubhathi sarvam; thasya bhaasa sarvamidam vibhathi”. A simple translation is: “Because of Him, everything is illuminated,made visible and become perceptible”.

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