Lord Krishna said in the Bhagavad-gita, “Even a drop of water, a blade of grass or a fragrant flower offered to me with devotion and attitude of surrender will please me”. A pooja can be done without a number of naivedyams or things like sandal wood, camphor, incense sticks and saffron but it should not be completed without a few flowers. Even the simplest of poojas will include some flowers that are offered to the favourite deity with devotion.
Why do we offer flowers to Gods?
1. Flowers represent the greatest beauty of Nature.
2. You may reap benefits such as wealth, health, peace and prosperity by offering Flowers to the Gods.
3. Flowers make the environment positive and blissful.
4. The Word Pooja Itself has syllables representing flowers in it.
The syllable ‘Poo’ in Pooja denotes Pushpam which is another word for flowers. ‘Ja’ in the word Pooja stands for Japa. Japa is nothing but the repetition of the almighty’s name. ‘Ja’ can also be explained as being a representative for ‘Jalam’ or water.
5. Flowers bring life to our prayers thereby adding positivity to life.
How Should Flowers Be Offered To Gods?
Oftentimes, flowers are offered by devotees to Gods without mindfulness or devotion. That does not serve the purpose. To achieve the goal of pleasing our favourite Deity, there are a set of rituals that need to be followed.
• Wild flowers and flowers that have thorns in them should not be offered to the Deity.
• Each God or Goddess has a flower that they love the most. By offering appropriately their favourite flower, you can reap their fullest blessings.
• Care should be taken that the flower we are about to offer is having pleasant smelling.
• The flowers offered to God should be clean and free of any kind of blemish or negativities.
• We can make sure if possible that the flowers that are offered to the almighty have been cultivated on a clean and pure land. If we can , it is best to grow some flowers in our garden and offer a few to your deity daily during worship.
• We should offer the flowers using all our fingers. We should do the act of offering the flowers in a gentle and delicate manner.
• While offering the flowers to deities, we should keep our mind clean and bent on the almighty. This is because while we offer the flowers, we are technically also offering the Lord our Bhava or the emotion and thoughts in our mind. Negative thoughts may cause negative effects to be manifested in our life.
• We should never pick flowers from plants in the evening or darkness.
• When we pluck flowers, we should remember that they are being sacrificed to show our devotion to God. Therefore we should express our attitude of gratitude towards the plants.
• We should never pick flowers that have fallen on the ground, for our pooja. A fallen flower has already been offered to the mother earth. It can also be said that a fallen flower is dead and you cannot offer a dead thing to our Deity.
• We should never offer withered flowers.
• We should also not offer flowers that have not completely bloomed or still are buds. The only exception to this rule are the flowers of the lotus and champa.
• We should never use for our pooja, flowers that are stolen, taken without permission or are received after a lot of begging or scolding. We should buy flowers at our own cost or get preferably from our own garden if possible or ask for proper permission to pluck a few flowers from the garden of a friendly neighbour. We can always use flowers that are willingly and wholeheartedly given to us.
• The flowers should not be washed using water before the worship. We may sprinkle some water on the flowers if we want to retain its freshness.
• An exception to the above rule is the bilva leaves which are technically leaves. If we do not have any more fresh bilva leaves, we may wash the old ones in water and offer them to Lord Shivji again.
• Lotus flowers are considered fresh for five days and can be used in those days.
• The flower must not have any insects or worms in them.
• If we are using tulsi leaves, we will make sure that we do not use them on Sankranti, poornima, amavasi and dwadashi days and on Sundays.
What are the benefits of offering various (specific) flowers to deities? Let’s find out…
1. Lily – for more wealth
2. Indian Tulip (poovarasampu) – for better health
3. Gomphrena Globosa (vaadaamalli) – to overcome the fear of death
4. Jasmine – family peace
5. Hibiscus – for spiritual strength
6. Memecylon Tinctorium (kasampu) – for general good
7. Oleander – to repay debts
8. Herium Odorum (alari) – for a happy life
9. Tanner’s Cassia (aavaaram) – improves memory
10. Vine Rose – family unity
11. Rose – to fulfil wishes
12. Law’s Persian Violet (marikozhunthu) – to get the blessings of the family deity
13. Frangipani – for a change of location
14. Hibiscus – for better health
15. Crape Jasmine/Carnation of India – to be blessed with a child
16. White Clitoria Ternatea (white sangu pushpam) – apt for worshipping Siva with
17. Blue Clitoria Ternatea (blue sangu pushpam) –apt for worshipping Vishnu with
18. Hari Champa – family unity, attracting the divine
19. Lotus – for more wealth and intelligence
20. Couroupita Guianensis (nagalingam) – to be blessed with prosperity and health
21. Arabian Jasmine – for professional growth and creating new opportunities
22. Periwinkle – for progress
23. Ghanera (golden arali) – to have the blessings of a guru, for the longevity of husband, for clearing, for protection from the maleficent effects of planets
24. Night flowering jasmine – this belongs to heaven. This should be grown in the house as it attracts the blessings of the gods and sages.
Do not use old flowers, buds or dirty flowers for worship.
Flowers used for worship or garlands that had adorned the deity in a temple should not be thrown where people may step on them. They can be thrown into clean, flowing water. Or, dig a pit in a clean place and bury them.
Hanging a garland that had adorned a deity to the bonnet of a car is a big sin. This can only cause harm and do no good.
Best flowers/leaves for prayer:
1. Vishnu – Night Flowering Jasmine, Persian Violet, Basil
2. Sivan – Bilva, Red Ghanera
3. Muruga – Arabian Jasmine, Rose, Marigold
4. Ambal – White Flowers
Flowers/leaves not to be used:
1. Vinayaka – Basil
2. Siva – Ketaki
3. Devi – Druva Grass (arugampul)
4. Vishnu – Druva Grass
5. Bairavar – Carnation
6. Sun – Vilva