16 Step Puja Worship in Hinduism

puja worship

A Hindu brahmin priest performing puja on a bronze Nataraja in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India

There are numerous forms of worship among Hindus, of which Puja is one of the more popular. The most widely accepted and followed system of Puja is the Shodasa – Upachara Puja, or 16 – Service worship.

The main purpose of this type of Puja is two-fold. Primarily it is to uplift the five senses of the worshiper, and by doing so elevate him to a higher level of consciousness that will promote good thoughts and actions. Secondarily it draws upon the Indian traditions of honoring a guest, wherein each upachara is a service to the deity who takes presence in the sculpture for the duration of the Puja.

  1. DhyaanaMeditating on the deity that is being invoked.
  2. AavaahanaInviting the deity into the altar.
  3. AasanaGiving the deity a seat.
  4. Paadya Washing the deity’s feet with clean water.
  5. ArghyaOffering the deity water to rinse hands and mouth.
  6. AachamanaOffering the deity water to drink.
  7. SnaanaBathing the deity with various auspicious items.
  8. VasthraDressing the deity with clean clothes.
  9. YagnopaveethaOffering the deity a clean sacred thread.
  10. GandhaSpreading fresh sandalwood paste on the deity.
  11. Pushpa Offering fresh flowers while chanting the deity’s names.
  12. DhoopaSpreading incense smoke throughout the altar.
  13. DeepaWaving a lamp to illuminate the freshly decorated deity.
  14. NaivedyaOffering the deity food.
  15. Taambula ­– Offering the deity a refreshing mix of betel nut and leaves.
  16. Pradakshina & NamaskaraCircumambulating the altar and bidding farewell to the deity.

Among these sixteen services, five hold more importance than the rest. Together these five services are referred to as the pancha – upacharas, and include gandha, pushpa, dhoopa, deepa, and naivedya. Collectively, these five services engage the five senses.

  • Gandha – Touch
  • Sandalwood paste cools the skin and is a natural insect repellant.
  • Pushpa – Hearing
  • The recitation of the deity’s names that accompanies each flower engages the ears.
  • Dhoopa – Smell
  • Incense envelops the entire temple with a refreshing fragrance for the nose.
  • Deepa – Sight
  • The lamp illuminates the deity and brings out the beauty of the icon to the eyes.
  • Naivedya – Taste
  • Food that has been offered to the deity is eaten and entices the taste buds.
ganesh, puja ceremony

Bronze Ganesh in opening eye ceremony at the Cleveland Museum of Art

32 Forms of Lord Ganesha

Bronze set of the 32 forms of Ganesh

View our bronze set of the 32 forms of Ganesh

Lord Ganesha is invoked as Vighneswara in the launch of an event or business by majority of the Hindus as he is believed to be the obstacle remover. Lord Ganesha is also considered as the God of auspicious beginnings and bestower of fortune in abundance. He is the son of Lord Shiva and Hindu Goddess Parvati. The Ganesha Purana describes the 32 forms of Lord Ganesha and among them, Mahaganapathi is widely worshiped. The first 16 forms of Ganesha are known by the name “Shodasa Ganapati” and the later ones are known as “Ekavimsathi”. Here, let us have a look at all the 32 forms of Lord Ganesha.

Bala Ganapathi

Bala Ganapathi

1. Bala Ganapathi: It depicts the child like form of Ganesha and represents earth. The idol of Bala Ganapathi is elephant faced and has four hands holding the fruits of the Earth – Mango, Jackfruit, Banana and Sugarcane in his four hands. His trunk garners His favorite sweet; the modaka. He is believed to save the devotees from sin.

Bhakti Ganapati

Bhakti Ganapati


2. Bhakti Ganapati:
  It is the devotee form of Lord Ganesha. He is portrayed to have four arms holding coconut, Mango, Banana and sweet made of Jaggery (Cup of Payasam).

Dhundhi Ganapati

Dhundhi Ganapati

3. Dhundhi Ganapati: He is known as the sought after Ganapati as he helps his devotees to attain moksha through spiritual studies. He has four hands bearing the japa beads mala, broken tusk, a pot of precious gems and ax.

Durga Ganapati

Durga Ganapati

4. Durga Ganapati: He is the invincible Ganapati paying attribute to Mother Durga and is depicted with 8 arms holding a bow and arrow, goad and noose, prayer beads, a rose apple and his broken tusk.

Dvija Ganapati

Dvija Ganapati

5. Dvija Ganapati: The word “Dvija” means born twice. It reminds us the story of Lord Shiva beheading Ganesha and resurrecting Him with an elephant’s head. As per Upanayana, Dvija Ganapati is considered equivalent to Lord Brahma. He is represented with four heads and four hands holding palm-leaf inscription, a staff, meditation beads, water pot, noose and goad.

Dvimukha Ganapati

Dvimukha Ganapati

6. Dvimukha Ganapati: It is a unique form of Ganapati with two heads, sees in all directions and in His 4 arms the goad, noose, a pot of gems and his tusk. A jeweled crown graces his head.

Ekadanta Ganapati

Ekadanta Ganapati

7. Ekadanta Ganapati: As the name suggest “single tusked” Ganapati. This form is special as He is having a large belly than in any other form which signifies that all the manifestation of the universe is within him. His hands hold broken tusk, Ladu, japa beads mala, and an axe to cut the bond of ignorance.

Ekakshara Ganapati

Ekakshara Ganapati

8. Ekakshara Ganapati: In this form Ganapati identified with Single Syllable, third eye and crescent moon. The single syllable comes from the seed letter “Gam”, which is a pronominal sound of “OM”. He sits on yogic lotus posture on his vehicle Mooshika. With one hand he grants boons and the others hold pomegranate, elephant goad and noose.

Haridra Ganapati

Haridra Ganapati

9. Haridra Ganapati: The kumkuma coloured Ganapati and is seated on a posh royal throne with calm face. His tusk holds his favorite sweet modak, his hands wield the noose and goad.

Heramba Ganapati

Heramba Ganapati

10. Heramba Ganapati: He is the Mother’s beloved son and a rare form in which the Lord appears with five heads and ten hands. He is also known as magnificent Protector of the weak. The Abhya Mudra depicted in his right hand bestows blessing and the main left hand grants wishes. On the other hands holds a noose, japa beads mala (Rudrashaka), a battle axe, a battle hammer, his broken tusk as a weapon, garland, a fruit and his favorite sweet Modaka.

Kshipra Ganapati

Kshipra Ganapati

11. Kshipra Ganapati: He is also known as Ganapati who is easy to appease and gives quick reward to the devotees. He is depicted to have a broken tusk and four hands holding a noose, goad and a sprig of the kalpavriksha (wish-fulfilling) tree. In His uplifted trunk He holds a tiny pot of precious jewels which is considered as a symbol of the prosperity he can bestow upon followers.

Kshipra Prasada Ganapati

Kshipra Prasada Ganapati

12. Kshipra Prasada Ganapati: As the name suggest Ganapati the quick rewarder. He sits on a Kusha grass throne and his big belly symbolizes the universe. His hands hold broken tusk, the twig of Kalpavriksha, noose, an elephant goad, pomegranate and a white lotus.

 

Lakshmi Ganapati

Lakshmi Ganapati

13. Lakshmi Ganapati: Commonly known as Ganapati the fortunate. He is depicted to have the Goddess Siddhi (Achievement) and Goddess Budhi (Wisdom) on both thighs. He has 8 hands, gesturing varada mudra, Abhya Mudra and other hands holds green Parrot, a Pomegranate, a sword, a noose, elephant goad, sprig of Kalpavriksha (Wish fulfilling tree) and water vessel. Both his consorts hold white lotus flowers.

 

Maha Ganapati

Maha Ganapati

14. Maha Ganapati: The great Ganapati is popularly worshipped and seated majestically with one of his shaktis on his knee. He is depicted with three eyes and a crescent moon on his head. He has 10 arms holding tusk, a pomegranate, a sugarcane bow, chakra, noose, a blue lily, a sprig of paddy, a lotus, a mace and ratnakumbha.

 

Nritya Ganapati

Nritya Ganapati

15. Nritya Ganapati: It is vibrant form of Ganapati the happy dancer. He has four arms and all the fingers have rings. His hands bear a tusk, goad, noose and modaka, His favorite sweet. It is believed that worshiping Nritya Ganapati will bring proficiency and success for the devotees in fine arts.

Rinamochana Ganapati

Rinamochana Ganapati

16. Rinamochana Ganapati: Ganapati the liberator from debts, grants moksha to His devotees. He has four arms and holds noose, a goad, his broken tusk and his favorite fruit – the rose apple.

Sankatahara Ganapati

Sankatahara Ganapati

17. Sankatahara Ganapati: He is the dispeller of sorrow . He is seated on a lotus and has four arms holding a bowl of pudding, a goad and a noose while gesturing the boon-granting varada mudra. He also has His consort with Him.

Shakti Ganapati

Shakti Ganapati

18. Shakti Ganapati: As the name suggest it is the powerful form of Lord Ganesha and is a Tantric worship form. He has 4 hands and embraces Shakti Devi seated on his left knee. His right hand is in Abhya Mudra bestows blessing to devotees and the rest hands hold garland, noose and goad.

Siddhi Ganapati

Siddhi Ganapati

19. Siddhi Ganapati: It is the accomplished form of Lord Ganesha, where He is in a relaxed form as he masters intellect. He bears in his four hands, a posy of flowers, a mango, a stalk of sugarcane plant with leaves and roots and the battle axe. His trunk curves around a sweet sesame ball.

Sinha Ganapati

Sinha Ganapati

20. Sinha Ganapati: He is known as the fearless Ganapati and has 8 arms. He is seated on a tiger and displays another lion, a twig from the kalpvriksh, the veena, a lotus flower, a floral bouquet and a pot of gems in his hands. This form symbolizes great courage and strength.

Srishti Ganapati

Srishti Ganapati

21. Srishti Ganapati: Ganapati in this form is the creator or as the Lord of happy manifestations. He has four hands bearing broken tusk, mango fruit, elephant goad, and noose. He is seated in his favorite Mooshika Vahana. It is believed that He will help his devotees to attain the power of discrimination.

 

Taruna Ganapati

Taruna Ganapati

22. Taruna Ganapati: It is the youthful form of Ganesha and is believed that he blesses his devotee with young and beautiful looks. He is depicted as bearing a goad and noose, green paddy, a sugarcane stalk, rose apple and wood apple in His eight hands, which symbolize fertility.

 

Trimukha Ganapati

Trimukha Ganapati

23. Trimukha Ganapati: The three faced Ganapati with 6 arms holding prayer beads, clasp a goad, noose and a pot of nectar. Posture depicts Abhaya mudra on His right hand and varada mudra on His left.

Tryakshara Ganapati

Tryakshara Ganapati

24. Tryakshara Ganapati: Also known as Lord of the three letters (A-U-M). Lord has 3 eyes and 4 hands. He has big floppy ears with fly whisks and hands carries the broken tusk, goad, noose and mango and His trunk often seen grasps modaka.

 

Ucchhishta Ganapati

Ucchhishta Ganapati

25. Ucchhishta Ganapati: It means “the lord of blessed offering and the lord of superiority”. The Lord is sitting posture with Shakti Devi on His left thigh. He has 6 hands and the tusk is not curled. His hands hold the veena, a blue lotus, pomegranate, meditation beads and a stalk of paddy.

 

Uddanda Ganapati

Uddanda Ganapati

26. Uddanda Ganapati: He is the enforcer of Dharma and has ten arms well equipped with weapons. His hands bear the blue lily, sugar cane stalk, lotus, mace, noose, paddy, a broken tusk and a garland. He has his consort Sakthi with him.

 

Urdhva Ganapati

Urdhva Ganapati

27. Urdhva Ganapati: It is the elevated Ganapati and is depicted in sitting posture with His consort and has six arms holding single holds sprig of paddy, a lotus, a blue lily, a sugar cane bow, arrow and a mace.

 

Varada Ganapati

Varada Ganapati

28. Varada Ganapati: Also known as the boon giver Ganapati with 3 eyes, crescent, crown and 4 arms. His hands hold the noose, goad and a pot of honey. He has Devi Shakthi on his side and encloses a pot of jewels in His trunk.

 

Vighna Ganapati

Vighna Ganapati

29. Vighna Ganapati: He is also known as the “Lord of Obstacles” as He is the one who removes all the obstacles from the life of His devotees. He has eight arms and His weaponry to fight impediments is the noose, goad, axe, discus and a sharp tusk and the rest of the arms hold flower-tipped arrow, sugarcane and a modak.

 

Vijaya Ganapati

Vijaya Ganapati

30. Vijaya Ganapati: Ganapati the victorious one. He is depicted with seated atop his divine vehicle, Mooshika, the mouse. His four arms bear a broken tusk, noose, goad and a ripe mango.

 

Vira Ganapati

Vira Ganapati

31. Vira Ganapati: It is the Valiant form of Lord Ganesha and has 16-arms. Lord Ganesh is depicted in the standing posture and strong with a authentic armory of weapons, which include goad, banner, bow and arrow, goblin, discus, sword, shield, large hammer, spear, sword, axe, trident, noose, mace and chakra.It is believed that Vira Ganapati vanquishes both ignorance and evil.

Yoga Ganapati

Yoga Ganapati

32. Yoga Ganapati: He is a yogic posture with his knees trapped and in complete meditation. His hands hold a stalk of sugar cane, a staff, prayer beads and a noose.

Lord Ganesha is one of the most worshiped deities by Hindus and they believe that he has taken 32 forms to save the devotees from the different issues that may arise in every stages of life. You can find Ganesha in almost all Hindu temples around the world and he is bestowing his devotees with blessings.