Over centuries, the day-to-day practice of Hindu religion has developed into symbolic rituals.
Ritualistic prayers (Puja and Archana), begin with the praise of the deities and end with a ceremonial conclusion (Aarti).
Devotees are then offered holy water (Charanamrit) and blessed sweets (Prasad).
Elaborate rituals form a significant part of many festivals.
The purpose of idols in the temple and its serene atmosphere is to aid in one’s spiritual development by creating an environment congenial to turning thoughts away from worldly matters and focusing the mind on God. With the mind thus shifted away from the cares of the world, one is better prepared to approach the altar to worship.
Hinduism preaches that God is formless and shapeless. The idols in a Hindu temple are symbolic. They help a person in many different ways in the process of spiritual awakening. When one is worshipping an idol, he or she is not really worshipping the physical form of the idol, but the spiritual quality of the divine symbolized by the idol. Rituals and ceremonies are intended to serve as channels for one’s devotion to God and to foster spiritualism. The ultimate aim of spiritualism is self-realization or union with God.