From this link we get the below explanation about arati.

it is not very clear what is what, where can we get a more detailed description on what is what in the aratik?

these are the elements I can think of:

  1. conshell sound - ?
  2. incense - ?
  3. ghee lamp - fire
  4. water in a conshell
  5. water handkerchief - ?
  6. flower
  7. peacock feathers fan - ?
  8. yak tail whisk -?
  9. obeisances -?
  10. the singing
  11. the dancing

What is offered? Figuratively, aarti signifies the offering of creation (represented by the various items offered during the aarti) to the creator (represented by the Deity, the iconic representation of the Divine). The Bhagavad-gita (7.4-5) analyzes the material world to be made of eight elements: earth (representing all solids), water (representing all liquids), fire (representing all radiations and energies), air (representing all gases), ether (the substratum for the existence of space and the transmission of sound), mind (the subtle faculty for emotions), intelligence (the subtle faculty for rational thinking) and false ego (the invisible bond that causes the soul to misidentify with the body). During the aarti, the various items offered to the Deity represent these elements: the flower and the cloth represent earth, the water represents the element water, the ghee lamp represents fire, the yak-tail fan represents air, the sound of the conch and the bell represents ether, the emotional involvement in the songs sung and the mantras chanted represent the mind, the intellectual focus on the purpose of the aarti represents the intelligence, the obeisances represent the ego and the pujari represents the assembled worshipers.

How is it offered? All the items are offered by waving them in a circle around the Deity, to remind us to keep the Lord at the center of all our activities during the cyclic motions of time from the minutes to the decades.

When is it offered? Etymologically, the word aarti means “before night.” This refers to the fact that the first of the aartis in traditional temples is performed before the night ends, that is, at early dawn. As the darkness of forgetfulness of God tends to envelope us repeatedly, the aarti is performed repeatedly to end the night of forgetfulness.

Why is it offered? Everything that we have belongs to the Lord and aarti is the method prescribed in the Vedic texts like the Pancharatras to humbly and gratefully acknowledge his divine proprietorship. When we prayerfully perform or reverentially observe the aarti, our head becomes illumined with God’s glory and our heart enlivened with God’s beauty. The items offered become transmuted into carriers of divine mercy or Prasad and thus we can receive divine energy from the lamp with cupped hands passed over its flames and touched to the forehead, from the sacred water by having it sprinkled on our bowed heads, from the sanctified flowers by reverentially smelling their fragrance. So next time we attend an aarti, let’s tune in to the divine vibrations.

  • There are different things offered in aarti and that procedure is different according to different sects in Vaishnavism we use Pancharatra agama procedure for Arti and Aradhana.
    – Yogi
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 18:40

1 Answer 1


It seems you are asking about the things or upacharas that are offered to a deity in worship. Then it is not necessary that they are all offered together during arati. They are all offered one by one, in a definite order.

The number of upacharas can vary from 5 (as in panchopachara puja) to 10 (as in dasopachara puja) to the most common 16 ( as in shodashopachara puja) to 18 (as in asthadasopachara puja ) to even 64 (as in chatuh shasti upachara puja).

Pancha Upacharas:

Atho PanchopachArAhA : Gandham Pushpam TathA Dupam Dipam Naivedyameva Cha | Akhandam PhalamAsAdya Kaivalyam Labhate


Gandha (Scented things like sandalwood paste etc) , Pushpa (flowers), Dhupa (incense), Dipa ( lighted lamps) and Naivedya ( or food offerings); These five things are known as Panchopachara in Deva Puja. One attains kaivalya ( or liberation) by offering whole fruits to Gods.

Dasa Upacharas:

Atha DasopachArAh: PAdyamarhyam TathAchamam MadhuparkAchamanam TathA | Gandhadayo NaivwdyAntA UpachArA Dasa KramAth ||


PAdya (water for washing feet), Argya (water for washing hands), Achamaniya (water for sipping), Madhuparka (sweet offerings made with honey,sugar etc), Achamaniya, Gandha, Pushpa, Dhupa, Dipa and Naivedya : These tenfold things are known as Dasa Upacharas.

Shodasha Upacharas:

Atha ShodasopacharAh: Padyamarghyam TathAchamam SnAnam Vasana Bhusane | GandhapushpadhupadipanaivedyAchaman Tatah || TAmbulamarchanA Stotram Tarpanamcha NamshkriyA | Prajojayeccha PujAyamupachArAmsthu Shodasha ||


Padya, Arghya, AchAmaniya, SnAniya (water for head bath), Vasana (clothings), Bhusana (ornaments), Gandha, Pushpa, Dhupa, Dipa, Naivedya, Achamaniya, TAmbula (betel leaves and nuts), Stotram (hymns), Tarpana ( act of offering water from Deva Tirtha in hands) and Namaskara (prostrations). A devotee should offer these 16 upacharas to God during puja.

Ashta Dasa UpachAras:

Atha AshtadasopachAraha: Asanam SwAgatam, PadyamarghyamAchamaniyayakam | SnAnam Vastropavitancha BhushanAni Cha Sarvvasah || Gandham, Pushpam TathA Dhupam Dipamannacha Tarpanam | MAlynulepanananchaiva NamaskAravisarjane || AshtadasopachAraintu Mantri PujAm SamAchAreth ||


Asana (seat), SwAgata Prasna ( don't know how to translate this to english ), Padya, Arghya, Achamaniya, SnAniya, Vastra, Yajnopavita (sacred thread), Bhusana, Gandha, Pushpa, Dhupa, Dipa, Naivedya, Tarpana, Malya (garland), Anulepan (body mask) and namskar . The sadhaka should perform puja to Ishta Devata with these 18 upacharas.

All verses are from a Hindu Agamic scripture called the Siddhi Yamala.

Now to understand the deeper meanings of offering these things we need to see how are these things offered while we are doing a mental worship ( a manasa puja where external objects are not required).

For doing that, i am quoting from the procedure of mental worship of Sri Devi ( Divine Mother or Sri Adi Parashakti) as detailed by Lord Sadashiva in the Mahanirvana Tantram:

From MahAnirvAna Tantram's Chapter 5:

Pujayeth Paraya BhaktyA MAnasairuppachArakaihi || HritpadmamAsanam DadAth SahsrArchyutAmrityeihi| PAdyam Charanayoddardhyath Manastvarghyam Nivedayeth || TenAmritenAchamanam SnAniyamapi Kalpayeth | AkAshtattvam Vasanam Gandhantu Gandhatattvakam || Chittam Prakalpayeth Pushpam Dhupam PrAnAn Prakalpayerh | Tejastattvantu DipArthe Naivedyacha SudhAmbudhim || AnAhatadhvanim GhantAm VAyutattvancha ChAmaram | NrityamindriyakarmAni ChAnchalyam Manas statha ||


Description of manasa puja : The devotee should imagine and offer his own lotus like heart as seat (asana) to Devi. He should offer the nectar (amrita) that flows from the Sahasrara lotus (at the top of the head) as padya (water to wash feet). The mind should be offered as the arghya. And the aforementioned amrita should be offered as the water for bath and that for sipping. The devotee should imagine the ether element in him as the vasan or clothings and should imagine the earth element within him as the gandha offering. The Chitta ( mind) should be imagined as flowers. The 5 pranas ( prana, apana, vyana, udana and samana) are to be imagined as the incense. Our fire element should be offered as lighted lamps. The unstruck sound in the anahata chakra is to be offered as ghanta or ringing of bells. The sudhambudhi inside us is offered as food to Devi. The wind element inside is to be offered as the chamara or fan. All acts that the indriyas (or the senses) perform and all fickle-mindedness (or disturbances) of mind are to be offered as dancing.

Verses 142- 146.

From the above passage you will get the real significance of specific offerings or the upacharas used in deity worship.

As regards the pushpa or the flower part, it has special significance. There are a total 15 kinds of flowers that are offered to Devi ( or any deity) all of which have deeper symbolism. Among these 15, i am mentioning about the pancha pushpas or the 5 flowers which are very dear to Devi.

Ahimsa Paramam Pushpam Pushpamindriyanigrahah | Daya Kshama GyAnapushpam Panchapushpam Tatah Param || (Verse 149)


Non violence is the best flower offering. Control of the senses, compassion, forgiveness and knowledge are the other 4 making the total panchapushpas.


Normally, while doing panchaopachara puja (while mantra japa or otherwise) we also chant mantras like

lam prithviatmikayai gandham samarpayami, ham akashatmikayai pushpaihi pujayami, yam vayabathmikai dhupam aghrapayamai, ram agniatmikayai dipam darsayami, vam amritatmikayai amritam mahanaivedyam nivedayami etc

So, the correspondence that these mantras suggest is the following:

Earth element ---------> Gandham.

Ether element ----------> Pushpa.

Air element ------------> Dhupa.

Fire element ------------> Dipa.

Water element -----------> Naivedya.


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