1. a ritual in honour of the gods, performed either at home or in the mandir (temple).
2. an act of worship.
3. a place where worship happens.
When friends come over to my home, they make their way around our small apartment and note how every shelf feels like an altar. An altar isn’t just a religious place, although it can be. In my home and practice, an altar is a conscious location where I honour a person, an idea, a family member, teacher, a friend; one who’s healing, one who’s gone, one I love, one for whom I must remind myself to cultivate love.
The creation of a puja has become a daily practice for me; it helps me remember, soften, ease my mind and connect to the bigger picture. On certain days, it’s a matter of re-arranging a photograph in a new frame and placing it with crystals or flowers. Often it’s a practice of selecting a tarot card, or reading a passage in one of my books. Often I’ll handwrite the message it brings, so it really stays with me. Then I’ll arrange the handwritten message with a stone or a mala, and sit with the idea it’s brought for my day. Each one is a remedy for my head, my heart, or my body.
But here’s the most important part. I make it easy for myself to engage in ritual every day. I’ve laid out pieces of wood, cloth, small slices of agate and little trays, I have bowls and shelves where I keep only the crystals, and a place where the malas hang waiting for my touch, and a pile of blank watercolor cards with my favourite pens easily accessible. I have a tray of the decks I’ve been collecting for many years (thanks to mysticmamma.com for starting my collection with the Voyager Tarot), and each morning it’s a privilege to start the day with this art of remembering.
Why practice this modern version of puja? Whether those altars last for days or weeks or only for a matter of hours, each one offers a potent reminder of my dharma when I forget. Which is often. In this simple ritual, I find the reminder that hands me back to the oneness.