The word ‘puja’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘puj,’ meaning to worship or to adore. Nitya Puja, or daily puja, is a prayer ritual performed every morning by Hindu devotees. A devotee can communicate with God during daily puja and convey one’s concerns and feelings directly to God. Puja helps an individual concentrate on the divine murti of God and His gunatit sadhu. It helps to calm the mind and quiet its many thoughts. Each morning, after having brushed and bathed but prior to eating or drinking, devotees put on freshly washed clothes and sit facing in a northern or eastern direction on a clean piece of cloth, or asana. The northern direction symbolizes the path for spiritual progress, and the sun rises in the eastern direction, symbolizing enlightenment. Devotees then lay out before them the murtis of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the guru parampara on another asana while reciting a Sanskrit verse inviting them to grace their puja. Thereafter, a male devotee places a tilak-chandlo made from chandan and kumkum on his forehead, while female devotees apply a kumkum chandlo. During puja, followers of Bhagwan Swaminarayan meditate on His divine form and their atma, acknowledging that their existence is separate from the body. They then engage in dhyan, yoga/pranayam, mansi, mala, dandavat, pradakshina, and prarthana. Devotees recite another shloka signaling the end of the puja and then read 5 shlokas from the Shikshapatri. After finishing puja, devotees say “Jai Swaminarayan” to those present and bow down, or perform panchang pranam, to their parents. Beginning each day in this manner spiritually prepares one’s mind for the stress associated with daily tasks.

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