This book treats two representative Hindu rituals of contemporary India, Puja (offering service) and Samskara (initiation rituals at important occasions of life). Samskara rites are performed at significant junctures of an individual`s life, from birth to death, by the individual`s family. Puja rites, rather than being performed in relation to the life cycle of an individual in a family, are more deeply related to the annual rituals of the cult to which an individual or the person`s family belongs. Persons may go to a temple and request priests to perform puja rites, or they may perform them themselves at home. For people living in India, Puja and Samskara are not at all uncommon. Puja rites are performed everywhere-at temples, in private homes, on street corners-and although in recent times families observing all the traditional Samskara rites have declined in number, almost all Hindu families still perform the major Samskaras. it is difficult, however, for those living outside India to know how these rites are performed. Hence, this book presents a large number of photographs that enable readers to gain an accurate grasp of them and indicates the place of ritual in the total structure of religion.
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