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Arti plate

Arti (Hindi: आरती, romanizedĀrtī) or Arati (Sanskrit: आरति, romanizedĀrati)[1][2] is a Hindu ritual employed in worship, part of a puja, in which light from a flame (fuelled by camphor, ghee, or oil) is ritually waved to venerate deities.[3][4][5] Arti also refers to the songs sung in praise of the deity, when the light is being offered. Sikhs have Arti kirtan which involves only devotional singing; the Nihang order of Sikhs also use light for arti.[6]

Etymology and origin

Arti is derived from the Sanskrit word आरात्रिक (ārātrika) which means something that removes rātrī, “darkness”.[7][8] A Marathi language reference says it is also known as Mahānīrāñjanā (Sanskrit: महानीराञ्जना).[9] According to Steven Rosen, arti means "before night" or symbolic end of the night to the worshipper's "material sojourn - he or she is now situated in the light of God's devotion."[10]

Arti is also thought to have descended from Vedic fire rituals or yajna.[11]

Arti performed in Rishikesh


Arti ranges from simple acts of worship to extravagant rituals, but almost always includes a jyoti (flame or light). It is performed up to eight times daily, depending on the many Hindu traditions and temples.[10] It is performed during most Hindu liturgies and occasions, and often involves circling a diya (lamp) clockwise before an image of a deity, accompanied by hymns.[12][7] After waving the lamp before the deity, it is brought to the devotee, whose then cups their hands and turns these down quickly over the flame. The devotee then raises the palms to their forehead in self-purification and connection with the divine.[12]

The diya (lamp) used for arti is made of brass or other materials, with a cotton wick soaked in camphor, ghee, or oil.[12][7] The arti plate may contain other offerings like flowers, incense, and akshata (rice).[13] Some temples do not use a plate, as the priest instead directly handles the lamp when performing arti.

The purpose of arti is waving light in a spirit of humility and gratitude, wherein the faithful become immersed in a god's divine form. All paraphernalia used for arti symbolize the five elements:[10]

  1. Space (akasha) - yak-tail fan
  2. Wind (vayu) - peacock fan
  3. Fire (agni) - lamp or candle
  4. Water (jalam) - water and handkerchief
  5. Earth (prithvi) - flowers

Arti may also be performed at shrines within a business or home.[10]


Taking arti blessing during a Durga puja celebration.

Arti is a expression of many aspects including love, benevolence, gratitude, prayers, or desires depending on the object it is done for. For example, it can be a form of respect when performed to elders, prayers when performed to deities, or hope when performed for homes or vehicles. Emotions and prayers are often silent while doing arti, but this is determined by the person carrying out the ritual or the holiday involved. It's also believed that goodwill and luck can be taken through symbolic hand movements over the flame.[14]

When arti is performed, the performer faces the deity of god (or divine element, e.g. Ganges river) and concentrates on the form of god by looking into the eyes of the deity to get immersed. The flame of the arti illuminates the various parts of the deity so that the performer and onlookers may better see and concentrate on the form. Arti is waved in circular fashion, in clockwise manner around the deity. After every circle (or second or third circle), when arti has reached the bottom (6–8 o'clock position), the performer waves it backwards while remaining in the bottom (4–6 o'clock position) and then continues waving it in clockwise fashion. The idea here is that arti represents our daily activities, which revolves around god, a center of our life. Looking at god while performing arti reminds the performer (and the attendees of the arti) to keep god at the center of all activities and reinforces the understanding that routine worldly activities are secondary in importance. This understanding gives the believers strength to withstand the unexpected grief and keeps them humble and remindful of god during happy moments.

Apart from worldly activities arti also represents one's self - thus, arti signifies that one is peripheral to godhead or divinity. This would keep one's ego down and help one remain humble in spite of high social and economic rank. A third commonly held understanding of the ritual is that arti serves as a reminder to stay vigilant so that the forces of material pleasures and desires cannot overcome the individual. Just as the lighted wick provides light and chases away darkness, the vigilance of an individual can keep away the influence of the material world.[10]

Arti is not only limited to god. Arti can performed not only to all forms of life, but also inanimate objects which help in progress of the culture. This is exemplified by performer of the arti waving arti to all the devotees as the arti comes to the end – signifying that everyone has a part of god within that the performer respects and bows down to. It is also a common practice to perform arti to inanimate objects like vehicles, electronics etc. at least when a Hindu starts using it, just as a gesture of showing respect and praying that this object would help one excel in the work one would use it for. It is similar to the ritual of doing auspicious red mark(s) using kanku (kumkum) and rice.


Arti dance in Bangalore, 2009.

Hinduism has a long tradition of arti songs, simply referred to as arti, sung as an accompaniment to the ritual of arti. It primarily extols the virtues of the deity that the ritual is being offered to, and several sects have their own versions of the common arti songs that are often sung on chorus at various temples, during evening and morning artis. Sometimes they also contain snippets of information on the life of the deity.

The most commonly sung arti is that which is dedicated to all deities called Om Jai Jagdish Hare, known as "the universal arti". Other arti's are used for other deities as well such as Om Jai Shiv omkara, Om Jai Lakshmi mata, Om Jai Ambe gauri, Om Jai Adya Shakti, Om Jai Saraswati Mata, Om Jai Gange Mata, Om Jai Tulsi Mata and Om Jai Surya Bhagvaan. In Ganesha worship, the arti "Sukhakarta Dukhaharta" is popular in Maharashtra.

In Swaminarayan Mandirs, Jay Sadguru Swami is the arti that is sung. In most temples in India, arti is performed at least twice a day, after the ceremonial puja, which is the time when the largest number of devotees congregates.

In Pushtimarg Havelis, arti is performed by a sole mukhiyaji (priest) while "Haveli Sangit" (kirtan) is being sung. Devotees only watch the arti being done and do not get to take a major part in it. During bhajan or utsavs (festivals) celebrated at home, "Jai Jai Shree Yamuna" is sung while devotees perform arti. It is said that Sandhya arti is done to see if Lord Shrinathji had gotten hurt while playing outside because it is performed after sundown.

Gaudiya Vaishnavism

Group arti at the Dashashwamedh Ghat
Lighted incense ceremony
Arti steps

In Gaudiya Vaishnavism, arti refers to the whole puja ritual, of which offering the lamp is only one part. A shankha (conch) is blown to start the arti, then an odd number of incense sticks are offered to the deity. The lamp is offered next, and then circulated among the devotees. A conch is then filled with water, and offered; the water is then poured into a sprinkler and sprinkled over the devotees. A cloth and flowers are then offered, and the flowers are circulated to the devotees. The deity is then fanned with a camara whisk, and a peacock fan in hot countries.

Durga Puja

See also: Natyashastra

During the Bengali festival Durga puja ritual drummers – dhakis, carrying large leather-strung dhak's, show off their skills during ritual dance worships called arti or Dhunuchi dance.[15]


In Sikhism, Gagan mai thaal is a type of arti recited by first guru, Guru Nanak[16] in either 1506[17] or 1508[18][19] at Jagannath Temple, Puri, during his Udaasi (journey) to the east of the Indian subcontinent.[17][18] Amritsar Sikhs sing Arti kirtan, which comprise a few shabads from Guru Nanak, Ravidas and other Bhagats and Gurus. According to them, it is the arti of divine wisdom in the form of the Guru Granth Sahib – Sikhism’s eternal Guru and chief scripture. It is considered the equivalent of bowing on one’s knees before the Guru Granth Sahib. This arti does not employ ritual items, but is instead sung after the daily recitation of the Rehraas Sahib and Ardās at Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, and most Gurdwaras worldwide.

An exception is the Nihang order, whose members first recite Aarta (prayers derived from banis in the Dasam Granth and Sarbloh Granth – scriptures of secondary and tertiary importance in the faith), and as in Hindu practise, employ diya, flowers, conch shells, bells, incense during the ritual.[6] This form of Sikh arti is also recited at Patna Sahib and Hazur Sahib.

See also


  1. ^ Woodhead, Linda; Partridge, Christopher; Kawanami, Hiroko (2016-01-13). Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations. Routledge. p. 68. ISBN 978-1-317-43960-8.
  2. ^ Monier-Williams, Sir Monier (2004). Brahmanism and Hinduism: Or Religious Thought and Life in Asia. Cosmo. p. 94. ISBN 978-81-7755-873-9.
  3. ^ admin (2021-05-19). "Aarti । Why do we do Aarti?". Simple Hinduism. Retrieved 2023-11-09.
  4. ^ Michaels, Axel (2004). Hinduism: Past and Present. Princeton University Press. p. 232. ISBN 978-0-691-08952-2.
  5. ^ Flood, Gavin D. (1996-07-13). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press. p. 209. ISBN 978-0-521-43878-0.
  6. ^ a b "Aarti". 2023-08-25. Retrieved 2023-11-09.
  7. ^ a b c James Lochtefeld, An illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, ISBN 0-8239-2287-1, page 51
  8. ^ Monier Williams Sanskrit Dictionary; Quote: ArAtrika n. the light (or the vessel containing it) which is waved at night before an icon; N. of this ceremony.
  9. ^ "Page:Konkani Viswakosh Vol1.PDF/191 - Wikisource".
  10. ^ a b c d e Rosen, Steven (2006). Essential Hinduism. Praeger Publishers. p. 196. ISBN 0-275-99006-0
  11. ^ "– BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London". Retrieved 2023-11-09.
  12. ^ a b c Hawley, John Stratton (2006). The Life of Hinduism. University of California Press. pp. 39–40.
  13. ^ Akshata: (Sanskrit) "Unbroken." Unmilled, uncooked rice, often mixed with turmeric, offered as a sacred substance during puja, or in blessings for individuals at weddings and other ceremonies. This, the very best food, is the finest offering a devotee can give to God or a wife can give to her husband.
  14. ^ "'Rules and significance of Aarti". Indiatoday. Retrieved 2020-03-24.
  15. ^ Gupta, Shobhna (2002). Dances of India. New Delhi: Har-Anand Publications Pvt Ltd. p. 71. ISBN 9788124108666.
  16. ^ गुरु नानक देव और उनके द्वारा प्रवर्तित मार्ग
  17. ^ a b "Orissa Review FEBRUARY MARCH 2012..." E-Magazine - Government of Orissa. Orissa Review.
  18. ^ a b "Home". 13 November 2013.
  19. ^ "Untitled Document". Retrieved 2024-04-01.