Pooja represents homage, reverence, worship, respect etc. All religions have their poojas, rituals and customs. Elaborate rituals are conducted by some religions, while others have a simple and short ceremony to celebrate God. For a deeper understanding of various poojas, we need to analyze and research early human civilization. Asia is the origin and the seed of most of the existing religions in the world. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism originated in South Asia. Jerusalem, Mecca, and Medina (located in South-West Asia) are the birthplaces of Christianity and Islam. The idea of God or a Divine force is universal and applicable to all religions.
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THE EARLY CIVILIZATION
During the early stages, humans were hunters, food gatherers, and fishers dwelling in the jungle without proper shelter. Men had not realized the presence of God in those days. Humans circled in tiny groups and lived in isolation. After a significant amount of time had passed, they started to realize the natural changes happening around them and analyzed how it affects them. They had begun to perceive the world in a different way when they were hit with dangerous thunderbolts, wildfires, earthquakes, heavy rainfall, volcanic eruptions, and many terrifying hazards.
At this time, humans started to accept the possibility that there could be a powerful and divine force controlling the universe. Poojas evolved as a shield to protect themselves from such hazards and to pay reverence to the Divine forces. This practice originated in the Vedic period in ancient India where there had been an elaborate practice of worshipping the Fire God (Agni Dev), the Water God (Vayu Dev), the Sun God (Surya Dev), and the Thunderbolt God (Indra Dev). Paying respect to the Deities was an added feature to the worship to defend themselves against every component of the Earth that poses a danger to mankind. They used trees, soil, rivers, hills, animals, reptiles, and birds as peace offerings to the Deities during the Vedic period in Ancient India. The system of pooja till the Vedic period was known as ‘Animism’.
THE RISE OF EXPECTATIONS IN EXCHANGE FOR WORSHIP
There are an infinite number of Deities and Goddesses in the Hindu religion since the Vedic period. Complicated and sophisticated ceremonies for every Deity is present in the current scenario. There are multiple religious books and rituals for different Deities. The concept of the Trinity (Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Mahesh are popularly known as the Trinity) was birthed during the early stages of Hinduism. The rituals and customs are designed to impress the Deities in exchange for the fulfilment of the unlimited desires and needs of a man. The ‘Ashwa Medha Yagya Pooja’ was performed by the kings to expand their empire. This pooja takes place in Ramayana where Lord Rama participates in the Yagya and the horse used in the Yagya is caught by his abandoned sons Lav and Kush which provoked a war between the father and the sons.