Aarti

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Aarti is said to have descended from the Vedic concept of fire rituals, or homa. In the traditional aarti ceremony, the flower represents the earth (solidity), the water and accompanying handkerchief correspond with the water ement (liquidity), the ghee or oil lamp represents the fire component (heat), the peacock fan conveys the precious quality of air (movement), and the yak-tail fan represents the subtle form of ether (space). The incense represents a purified state of mind, and one's "intelligence" is offered through the adherence to rules of timing and order of offerings. Thus, one's entire existence and all facets of material creation are symbolically offered to the Lord via the aarti ceremony.[6] The word may also refer to the traditional Hindu devotional song that is sung during the ritual.
Practice
Aarti can be simple to extravagant, but always includes flame or light. It is sometimes performed one to five times daily, and usually at the end of a puja (in southern India) or bhajan session (in northern India). It is performed during lmost all Hindu ceremonies and occasions. It involves the circulating of an 'Aarti plate' or 'Aarti lamp' around a person or deity and is generally accompanied by the congregation singing songs in praise of that deva or person - any versions exist. In most versions the plate, lamp, or flame represents the power of the deity. The priest circulates the plate or lamp to all those present. They cup their down-turned hands over the flame and then raise their palms to heir forehead – the blessing has now been passed to the devotee.
The aarti plate is generally made of metal, usually silver, bronze or copper. On it must repose a lamp made of kneaded flour, mud or metal, filled with oil or ghee. One or more cotton wicks (always an odd number) are put into the oil and then lighted, or camphor is burnt instead. The plate may also contain flowers, incense and akshata (rice). In some temples, a plate is not used and the priest holds the ghee lamp in his hand when offering it to the Deities.
The purpose of performing aarti is the waving of lighted wicks before the deities in a spirit of humility and gratitude, wherein faithful followers become immersed in god's divine form. It symbolises the five elements:
1. Space (Akash)
2. Wind (Vayu)
3. Fire (Agni)
4. Water (Jal)
5. Earth (Prithvi)
Community Aarti is performed in the mandir; however, devotees also perform it in their homes.

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