Aarti – The Cornerstone of Hindu Prayer

People Picture 17(Post by Eliz Kochniarczyk, Kathryn Mathews, Yaritza Vidaurre)

Kathryn Mathews, Yaritza Vidaurre, and I (Elizabeth Kochniarczyk) visited the Hindu Temple and Community Center of Michiana in South Bend, Indiana. We visited twice: once for the celebration of Holi, or the Hindu celebration of colors, and once for a Friday prayer service. For our audio recordings, which are posted below, we have compared the prayer called “Aarti”, which one member of the Temple called, “the cornerstone of prayer.” Aarti is performed everyday, twice a day. Yet it is performed differently at special celebrations than at everyday prayer services.

The first audio clip* is from the Aarti during the celebration of Holi. You can hear many sounds, including bells and a large chorus of chanters, various percussion instrumentalists, and a synthesizer. The priest, or Pundit in Hindi, carried a handbell, which he rang in front of each deity. This was done in order to “awaken” each deity and draw their attention to the prayer.

The  second audio clip* is from a weekly Friday prayer service. There is a different prayer service each day of the week. This clip involves one lead chanter, along with the attendees chanting. Other attendees stood up and rang three large bells that hung from the ceiling, while the Pundit rang a hand bell in front of each deity. The hand bell that is rung by the Pundit is far more noticeable in this recording than in the first recording.

During both Aarti prayers, the Pundit also brings a platter of lit candles in front of each deity while the hand bell is rung in front of them. The Pundit moves the platter in a circle in front of the deities as well, which also helps with “awakening” and drawing the attention of the deities.


*Approval for these audio recordings and photographs was granted by the community representative found on the general consent form, or consent form one.


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