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We often cherish the time when we offer worship to God. As a result, our temples and churches have become ornatley and beautifully decorated, varying according to geography, culture and history. The different ways of worship that we use to propitiate and approach God are also replete with exquisitely crafted items of worship, rich imagery and involve elaborate devotional forms, embodying thousands of years of tradition.

In one of His Divine Discourses, Swami explained the great value of worshipping God thus:

 “There is only one God and He is Omnipresent. True, but to concentrate on the Omnipresent, some fixed point or preliminary form is needed. And to conceive of the Divine as present everywhere at all times, the mind of man is to be clarified and purified by means of certain psychological processes called sadhanas (spiritual efforts). This is the reason why not only among the followers of Hinduism but also among Christians and Buddhists, regular rituals are prescribed for the worship of idols of God. Cynics question the validity of this type of adoration and say that will only confirm faith in a superstition. ‘Can God be a stone or a piece of paper?’ they ask. This attitude is not correct. By adhering to the traditionally laid down ritual worship, many aspirants have attained the vision of the Omnipresent and stayed in that Incommunicable Bliss.”

In the present multi-quiz we hope to not only instil in you the signifiance of these rituals but also kindle a little awareness of the ‘unity in diversity’ that can be seen all over the world, as we lift our spirits up to the unseen Omnipresent God, or visualise Him in one of His myriad Divine Forms.

1. Swami says: “The entire English literature is made up of permutations and combinations of the 26 letters of the alphabet. Puja (ritual worship), japa (recitation of holy Names), archana (offering of flowers with God's Names) and aaradhana (Divine service) are the letters of the spiritual alphabet. The collection of the various items necessary for worship (lamps, camphor, flowers, plates, cups, a bell and the book) needs hours-long concentration on the Divine. The puja itself may take another hour or two of concentrated and purificatory attention, and the performer rises up after the recitation and meditation, a stronger and steadier pilgrim on the path.”

According to Swami, what is the very first step in the spiritual pilgrimage?


2. Inside a Jain temple, worship is called a puja, which is done with eight-fold offerings of water, sandal wood, flower, incense, candle, rice, sweet and fruit. Each offering has a specific significance. By doing this puja, Jains strive to follow five great Vows: Non-violence, Truthfulness, Non-stealing, Chastity, and Non- possession. Ultimately following these vows, coupled with right faith and knowledge leads to liberation.

According to Jains, what do these 8 offerings help us to destroy?


3. For many Christians, worship is at the heart of their relationship with God, both as individuals and a community. In worship, Christians focus on God by hearing a message based on the Bible, or through prayer, and the Sacraments.

Services often begin with a combination of prayer, responsive readings and music which simply celebrate being in God's presence. The sermon is preached to help people understand God's Word and to follow it in their daily lives.

What is the platform from where the preaching is done called?


4. All Buddhist temples contain an image or a statue of Buddha. Worshippers sit on the floor barefoot facing an image of Buddha and chant. They listen to monks chanting from religious texts, perhaps accompanied by instruments, and take part in prayers.

It's common to use prayer beads to mark the number of repetitions of a mantra. Mantras may also be displayed on a prayer wheel and repeated by spinning the wheel.

What does the Prayer Wheel also represent?


5. A Hindu temple can be a separate structure or a part of a building. A feature of most temples is the presence of murthis (statues) of the Hindu deity to whom the temple is dedicated. They are usually dedicated to one primary deity, called the presiding deity, and other subordinate deities associated with the main deity. The 'murthi' is typically placed on a 'mandap' or pedestal, surrounded by beautiful offerings such as colorful cloths, flowers, incense sticks and instruments such as a conch or large bells.

How does a Hindu generally begin the individual worship?


6. A mosque is a place of worship for the followers of Islam. Muslims often refer to the Mosque by its Arabic name, masjid, meaning ‘place of prostration’.

The primary purpose of the mosque is to serve as a place where Muslims can come together for prayer and some other activities of their life (i.e, a centre for information, education, and dispute settlement). The Imam leads the prayer.

For a Muslim, which day is considered more important than others for offering prayers?


7. A Bahá'í House of Worship, is the designation of a place of worship, or temple, of the Bahá'í Faith. The Bahá'í faith has no clergy or sacraments, and virtually no rituals and the temple is exclusively reserved for worship. Sermons are prohibited and only scriptural readings may be read along with interpretations of them and prayers. Bahá'ís are encouraged to come together in communal worship, but there are no congregational prayers. One person recites prayers on behalf of everyone present.

All Houses of Worship are open to people of every religion. Each temple has its own distinctive design, and yet conforms to a set of architectural requirements that give a unifying theme. All Bahá'í Houses of Worship must have ______ sides and a central dome.


8. A Zoroastrian Fire Temple is a place of worship for Zoroastrians. Zarathushtra preferred fire instead of idols as a symbol of divinity, and thus made fire the symbol of his religion - a symbol of sublimity, grandeur and purity. In Zoroastrianism what does the symbol of fire represent?


9. A Gurudwara meaning "the doorway to the Guru", is the Sikh place of worship and is sometimes popularly referred to as a "Sikh temple". People of all religious backgrounds, or of no religious faith, are welcomed into a Sikh Gurudwara.

All those who enter the hall must remove their shoes and cover their heads before entering. On entering the hall, devotees walk slowly and respectfully to the main throne on which the Guru Granth Sahib rests. Devotees then stand before the Holy Scriptures, often say a silent prayer, offer a donation (if they can), and then bow humbly.

According to the Sikh belief, what Grace can one achieve by bowing down to the Guru?


10. A Synagogue, is a Jewish house of prayer. Synagogues usually have a large hall for prayer (the main sanctuary), smaller rooms for study and sometimes a social hall and offices. Some have a separate room for Torah study, called the Beit midrash — "House of Study".

Every synagogue contains an Ark, which is a cupboard. The Ark is named after the wooden chest which held the stone tablets of the Covenant that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. An Eternal Light (called Ner Tamid) hangs above the Ark. This light is always burning, as a symbol of God's presence.

What is kept in this Ark?


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-Heart2Heart Team

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Vol 6 Issue 10 - OCTOBER 2008
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