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The Satyanarayan Puja is a Hindu (Devanāgarī: हिन्दु) religious observance. It is a ritual performed by Hindus before/on any major occasion like marriage, house warming ceremony etc. It can also be performed on any day for any reason. The Satyanarayana Puja is unique in that it does not require a Brahmin to perform.It is believed the ceremony originated in Bengal as Satya Pir ritual performed by all communities (Hindu, Muslim and buddhists) and later in 1800s morphed into Satyanarayan puja.,,
The Satyanarayana Puja is usually done on the Purnima day of every month (the day of the full moon) or a Sankranti. It is also done on special occasions and during times of achievements as an offering of gratitude to the Lord. These occasions include marriage, graduation, new job, and the purchase of a new home to name a few. In addition, it is said that a devotional performance of this puja will bear children to couples trying to start a family.
The puja starts by a prayer to Lord Ganesha, to remove all obstacles that may occur as a result of incorrectly performing the puja. This is done by chanting all the names of Lord Ganesha and offering prasad (a food offering, usually consisting of one of Lord Ganesha's favorite foods - modak, a sugar and coconut mixture, or ladu) and the showering of flower petals.
Another part of the prayer involves a prayer to the Navagraha's - the nine important celestial beings in the universe. They consist of Surya (the Sun), Chandra (the moon), Angaaraka/Chevaai (Mars), Budha (Mercury), Guru aka Bruhaspati (Jupiter), Shukra (Venus), Sani (Saturn), Rahu (the head of the Demon snake), and Ketu (the tail of the Demon snake).
The rest of the puja consists of worship to Satyanarayana, an extremely benevolent form of Lord Vishnu. First "panchamritam" is used to clean the place where the deity is placed. After placing the deity in the correct position, Satyanaraya swami is worshipped. Names of Satyanarayana are chanted along with offering of a variety of prasad (including a mixture of milk, honey, ghee/butter, yogurt, sugar) and flower petals.
Another requirement of the puja is that the story of the puja be heard among all those observing and partaking in the pooja. The story involves the origin of the puja, the benefits of it, and the potential mishaps that may occur with the careless performance of the puja.
The prayer concludes with an Aarti, which consists of revolving a small fire-lit-lamp in the vicinity of an image of the Lord. After the puja is over, participants and observers of the pooja are required to ingest in the prasad that was offered and blessed by the Lord.
It is told that Satyanarayan Katha is in REVA volume of Skanda Purana. But this volume is devoted to pilgrimages on the valley of river REVA. In Satyanarayana there is no Reva river. In original Skanda Purana there is nothing like Satyanarayana. Recent Skanda Puranas added it with clear note of its new addition in Skanda.
Pooja (Prayer) Vidhi (performing method)
The Satyanarayan Puja is performed in reverence to the Narayan form of Lord Vishnu. The Lord in this form is considered an embodiment of truth. This puja is conducted to ensure abundance in ones life. Many people carry out this puja immediately after or along with an auspicious occasion like a marriage or moving into a new house or any other success in life. It is believed the ceremony originated in Bengal as Satya Pir and was later adapted into Satyanarayan puja.
Performing this puja in the evening is considered more appropriate. However one can do it in the morning as well. On the day of the puja, the devotee has to fast. After bathing the person can begin the puja.
Materials needed for the puja
- 'Sinni': A special type of food offering, which is prepared by mixing unboiled milk, flour, sugar, smashed bananas, and other flavours like cinnamon etc., or optional garnishing like groundnuts, cashews, cherries, crushed coconuts/fruits etc.
- Kumkum powder, turmeric powder, rangoli
- Incense sticks, camphor.
- Thirty betel leaves, thirty betel nuts, two coconuts.
- Five almonds,
- Flowers to offer
- One thousand tulsi leaves; banana tree as a canopy
- One square shaped wooden platform
- Two copper jars, two plates.
- One shawl
- A mixture of milk, curd, honey, sugar, ghee to make the panchamrita, Sandal paste.
- Akshat (rice grains) with kumkum powder.
- Attar, Indian perfume.
- Two flower garlands, conch shell, bell, a cloth, a ghee lamp and an oil lamp.
Shri Satyanarayan Katha
Shri Satyanarayan katha (narrative) comes from the Skandha purana, Reva kaanda. Suta Puraanikji narrated these stories, in Neimishaaranya to the Rishis who were performing a 1 ,000 year yajna for the benefit of mankind lead by Shounakji .
For those who observe the fast religiously and regularly, there are some great lessons to be learned from the 'katha' (narration)
This is shown by characters who ignored their promise to perform the puja after their wish had been fulfilled. They suffered as a result. Therefore one is to deduce that one must stick to the promise given to the Lord in exchange of the desire fulfilled by His Grace. One is not to ignore or/and forget the Lord's Grace. Prasad is symbolic of God's Grace which Kalavati ignored as she learned of her husband's safe return.
One can understand her eagerness in wanting to be re-united with her beloved, but one must understand that if one forgets to be thankful for gifts received from the Lord, one would have to go through another test until one remembers to remember.
When the rich merchant is asked what the boat contains, he untruthfully replies 'Only dry leaves' and the Mendicant says 'So be it' The above incident tells us that the spoken word has power. What you speak, manifests. Hence one must not speak an untruth. Especially an inauspicious untruth.
In the last story one learns that no one is higher or lower in status in the eyes of the Lord. Hence one must accord respect to whoever it may be, who is taking the name of God.
Satyanarayana Katha (story)
Beliefs and practices
Once Naradji went to the Lord to ask Him for a panacea for the miseries of the world. Sri Satyanarayan told Naradji that there is a fast which can be performed by anyone. The fast would result in the fulfillment of his desires and also liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
Sri Narayana told Naradji how a poor, old and ailing Brahmin as well as an impoverished woodcutter, had all their wishes fulfilled, became prosperous, and ultimately attained salvation by the correct and devotional performance of the Sri Satyanarayan fast and puja.
The second story consists of a childless merchant who asked a king the correct procedure of the Satyanarayan fast. After learning the same, the merchant and his wife decided to perform the fast if they get a child. Sometime later his wife Lilavati became pregnant and she delivered a girl who they called Kalavati. Lilavati reminded her husband about his promise to keep the fast, but the merchant postponed it saying that he would do so when the daughter is ready to be married. The merchant did not fulfill his promise when Lilavati, the daughter is wedded. The Lord decided to remind the merchant of his promise.
The merchant and his son-in-law went to a city called Ratnasara in connection with some business. There, a theft took place. As the thief was being chased by the concerned authority, the robber threw the booty where the two merchants were resting, and escaped. The merchant and the son-in-law were arrested. Meanwhile Lilavati and Kalavati also lost their belongings due to some thefts and were rendered beggars. While trying to get some food, Kalavati saw a Satyanarayan puja being performed and told her mother about it. Lilavati remembered that she had not performed the promised puja and hence she was facing all these difficulties. She decided to perform the fast and the Puja. The king was informed in a dream, that the merchants were innocent so he released them after compensating them with a lot of wealth.
The merchants decided to come home to their wives. The Lord decided to test them again and came in the guise of a mendicant and asked what kind of load they were carrying on their ship. The merchant mentioned that they had only dried leaves. The mendicant said: "So be it" When the merchant saw that there were only dried leaves aboard, he asked the pious man for forgiveness. The ever merciful Lord forgave them one more time.
As the ship approached the city, the merchant sent word to his wife and daughter about their arrival. Lilavati rushed to meet her husband while telling her daughter to complete the puja. Kalavati performed the puja, but in her haste to meet her husband she did not take the prasad. When she eagerly arrived to meet her husband, she could see neither the ship nor the inmates.
The merchant realised that all the obstacles that they were facing were because he had not kept his promise of performing the Satyanarayan puja. He decided to do it. As he was performing it, he got an insight that it was due to the neglect of Lilavati taking the prasad, that they were going through further difficulties.
Kalavati rushed back home and respectfully partook of the prasad. The family was then re-united and they lived a long, happy and prosperous life never forgetting to thank the Lord for all that they received. After their death they got the ultimate gift: 'Moksha' (Liberation from the cycle of life and death)
Suta continuing his narrative, tells the Rishis, the story of a king called Angadwaja. Once, as King Angadwaja was returning from a hunting expedition, he stopped to rest under a tree for a while. Nearby a small group of cowherd boys were playing the game of doing puja. They offered their humble parsad to the king, who out of pride left it untouched. Subsequently the king suffered great losses and realised that that was due to the contempt he had shown for those children's puja. The king returned to the spot where he had met the cowherds, and with great faith performed the puja with them. The king regained all that he had lost.
Suta now told the Rishis that the Satyanarayan fast was very effective during Kaliyuga and that whoever read or heard this story would be rid of all sorrows and difficulties.
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- Aa Like in ‘Far’
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- Oo Like in ‘Shoot’
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- Thousand Names of Vishnu and Satyanarayan Vrat (ISBN 1-877795-51-8) by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Devi Mandir.