Pūjā is a ritual performed by Hindus to host, honour and spiritually celebrate one or more religious deities, or an event. Sometimes spelled phonetically as Pooja, it may honour or celebrate the presence of special guest(s), or their memories after they pass away. The word Pūjā (Devanagari: पूजा) comes from Sanskrit, and means reverence, honour, homage, adoration, and worship. Puja rituals are also held by Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs.
In Hinduism, puja is done on a variety of occasions, frequency and settings. It may include daily puja done in the home, to occasional temple ceremonies and annual festivals, to few lifetime events such as birth of a baby or a wedding, or to begin a new venture. The two main areas where puja is performed are in the home and at temples to mark certain stages of life, events or some festivals such as Durga Puja and Lakshmi Puja. Puja may be a routine daily affair for some Hindus, periodic ritual for some, and infrequent for other Hindus. In some temples, various poojas may be performed daily at various times of the day; in other temples, it may be occasional.
Puja varies according to the school of Hinduism. Within a given school, puja may vary by region, occasion, deity honored, and religious recommendations. In formal Nigama ceremonies, a fire may be lit in honour of deity Agni, without an idol or image. In contrast, in Agama ceremonies, an idol or image of deity is present. In either ceremonies, a diya or incense stick may be lit while a prayer is chanted or hymn is sung. Puja is typically performed by a Hindu worshipper alone, sometimes in presence of a priest who is well verse with procedure and hymns. Food, fruits and sweets may be included as offerings to the deity, which after the prayers becomes prasad - blessed food shared by all present at the puja.
Both Nigama and Agama puja are practiced in Hinduism in India. In Hinduism of Bali Indonesia, Agama puja is most prevalent both inside homes and in temples; the puja is locally called Sembahyang.