Panchopachar – Guest-Worship Offering In Manner Elemental

We’re in the process of producing a really straightforward guide for the broader IE sphere on how to perform a simple ‘Guest Worship’ rite in your home. The Guests in question, of course, being the Gods thusly invoked.

The model we’ll be using for this is a Hindu Panchopachar [Pancha – Five ; Upachar – ‘Attendance Upon’ / ‘Service’] Puja.

So-called because it features five ritual items offered – a sacrifice ‘in manner elemental’, we may say.

Running through in order, the metal vessel in the mid-left holds water – this isn’t part of the Five proper, but I included it because in the more elaborate and formalized sequence, it’s one of the first things offered : the Gods (Guests) having come a long way on Their journey to respond to the invitation, so requiring such.

The plate in the foreground center has Akshata upon it – ‘Unbroken’ rice that has been mixed with kumkum (a particular red powder). Ordinarily, sandalwood paste is used, but Akshata is an acceptable and common ritual substitution here. The Element that is offered here is Earth – Prithvi.

The plate to the left has a few flowers upon it from our garden. There are various considerations around what sorts of flowers are appropriate in terms of colour and type – different Gods or different occasions, means different flowers. These are Pushpa, and they are representative of the Akasha Element (Aether).

In the front right, we have Dhupa – Incense. Because it’s a Monday and tonight was for Lord Shiva with the offerings, I’ve chosen to use Camphor … along with the more usual Sandalwood. Camphor is understood to be good not only for purification, but is also particularly salient for Lord Shiva. Dhupa is, perhaps predictably, there for the Element of Air (Vayu).

In the back and to the right, we have three Diya lamps (unlit at the time of photography) loaded with Ghee (clarified butter) and with wicks in and ready to go. Diya, as I often observe, is from the same etymological root which gives us ‘Daylight’. (One is enough – but for reasons aforementioned, I am using Three for Shiva observances) The Deepa lamps are there, as one may presume, for the Offering of Fire (Agni) .

And then, on the back left in the white mug (usually it should be in a rather more ornate vessel – although there’s some disagreement about what kind of metal it should be made from), we have Panchamrut (Pancha – Five ; Amrit , ‘[Elixir of] Immortality]. Panchamrit being a combination of five ingredients – milk, honey, ghee, jaggery, and unsweetened yoghurt (curd); effectively a ritual stand-in for the rather more famed libation of the Vedic age). This is being offered as Naivedyam (‘sustenance’, ‘food’) – the Element of Water (Jala) [and interestingly, for the five-element offering in the Shiva Kavacham ‘Armour of Shiva’ rite, the term utilized for the element of water is, in fact, ‘Amrit’] .

ॐ नमः शिवाय

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