Pooja (alt. puja) is a Sanskrit term meaning worship or worship service. Poojas are performed in homes, Hindu temples, and at Yale, in our beautiful Hindu Prayer Room. During a pooja, one or more gods and goddesses are invoked and then praised with hymns and mantras, a recitation of their many names and venerated with offerings. The offerings include a cleansing bath and fresh clothes, kumkum for the forehead and a meal. In this manner Hindus treat the visiting deity with the loving attention they pay a cherished friend or relative who is visiting their home. Among Hindus, hospitality is considered a sacred – and delightful – duty of a householder. In fact it is almost impossible to visit a Hindu home without being offered delicious food and drinks.
At Yale our festival poojas are a time of communal worship and feasting on catered Indian fare. They are planned according to the festival calendar. Tensions release with the very first OMs and a feeling of peace and well-being pervades the room. For those inclined towards personal reflection the prayer room is available for individual worship.