Homa

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By Swami Harshananda

Homa literally means ‘pouring oblation’.

Growth

Vedic sacrifices, which were very simple in the beginning, gradually grew into a labyrinth of rites and rituals. Eventually, simpler fire-rituals conducted in the domestic fire evolved. Homa was initiated in such way.

Meaning

Literally, homa (or havana) means the act of pouring an oblation (usually of ghee or clarified butter) into a duly consecrated fire. It is an essential feature of domestic rites. It is often considered as an integral part of special pujā or worship of a deity.

Procedure

The major steps involved in the performance of a homa are:

  1. Preparing the sthaṇḍila[1]
  2. Purification of the ājya[2]
  3. Warming the ladle
  4. Putting the faggots and lighting the fire
  5. Pouring of the oblations with mantras appropriate to the deity
  6. Purṇāhuti[3]
  7. Ceremonially putting out the fire, generally with curds
  8. Preparing the rakṣā[4]

References

  1. Sthaṇḍila is an altar for the fire, a raised surface of sand or loose earth.
  2. Ājya means ghee used for oblation.
  3. Purṇāhuti means final offering.
  4. Rakṣā means ashes from the remnants pasted with ghee, to be applied on the forehead as a religious mark.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore