Meaning Of Jain Puja

There are basically two types of prayers:

Dravya Puja (with symbolic offerings of material objects)
Bhav Puja (with deep feeling and meditation)

The material offerings made during the prayer are merely symbolic and are for the benefit of the offerer. The action and ritual of offering keeps the mind in meditative state. The symbolism of prayer is so strong it assists the devotee to concentrate on the virtues of Arihantas and Tirthankars. Above all, prayer is not performed with a desire for any material goal. Jains are clear that the Jinas reside in Moksha and are completely detached from the world. Jains have built temples where idols of Tirthankars are revered. Rituals include offering of symbolic objects and praising Tirthankars in song. There are some traditions within Jainism which have no prayer at all, and are focused on meditation through scripture reading and philosophical discussions.

Preparation for Prayer:
Body Cleansing: A bath should be taken before the prayer. A clean body prepares and assists the mind to be in spiritual mode. This is also symbolic of washing one's dirt or karmas. In order to assist in the meditative process place saffron paste or sandal paste on ring finger and anoint the forehead. This may be applied to earlobes, neck and other acupressure parts of the body.
Clothes: Simple, clean washed clothes are worn. White clothing is preferred. Traditionally, men wear non-stitched cloths (dhotis and khes).

Types of Pujas:
Jain Puja symbolizes various aspects of our religion. One should reflect on such aspect while performing the puja rituals. There are different types of puja being performed for various religious and social ceremonies. The following eight types Ashta Prakari Puja (Eight Symbolic Offering Prayer) of materials is generally used for Puja.

1. Jala Puja: (Water)
Water symbolizes the ocean. Every living being continuously travels through Life Ocean of birth, life, death, and misery. This puja reminds that one should live the life with honesty, truthfulness, love and compassion towards all living beings. This way one will be able to cross the Life Ocean and attain Moksha or liberation. The path of liberation is Samyak Darshan, Samyak Jnan and Samyak Charitra in Jain religion.

2. Chandan Puja: (Sandal wood)
Chandan symbolizes Knowledge (Jnan). During this puja one should reflect on Right Knowledge. Right knowledge means proper understanding of reality which includes Soul, Karma, and their relationship. Jainism believes that the Path of Knowledge is the main path to attain liberation. Bhakti or Devotion helps in the early stages of one's effort for liberation.

3. Pushpa Puja: (Flower)
Flower symbolizes conduct. Our conduct should be like a flower, which provides fragrance and beauty to all living beings without discrimination. We should live our life like flowers with full of love and compassion towards all living beings.

4. Dhup Puja: (Incense)
Dhup symbolizes ascetic life. While burning itself, Dhup provides fragrance to others. Similarly true monks and nuns spend their entire life selflessly for the benefit of all living beings. This puja reminds that one should thrive for a ascetic life which ultimately leads to liberation.

5. Deepak Puja: (Candle)
The flame of Deepak represents a Pure Consciousness or a Soul without any bondage or a Liberated Soul. In Jainism such a Soul is called Siddha or God. The ultimate goal of every living being is to become liberated from karma. By doing this puja one should thrive to follow Five great Vows: Non violence, Truthfulness, Non stealing, Chastity and Non possession. Ultimately these proper conducts coupled with right faith and knowledge will lead to liberation.

6. Akshat Puja: (Rice)
The household rice is the kind of grain seeds, which are non-fertile. One cannot grow rice plants by seeding the household rice. Symbolically it means that rice is the last birth. By doing this puja one should thrive to put all the efforts in the life in such a way that this life becomes one's last life and after the end of this life one will be liberated and will not be reborn again.

7. Naivedya Puja: (Sweet)
Naivedya symbolizes a tasty food. By doing this puja, one should thrive to reduce or eliminate the attachment to tasty food. Healthy food is essential for survival, however one should not live for to eat a tasty food. Ultimate aim in one's life is to attain a life where no food is essential for our existence and that is the life of a liberated Soul, who lives in Moksha forever in ultimate bliss.

8. Fal Puja: (Fruit)
Fruit symbolizes Moksha or Liberation. If we live our life without any attachment to worldly affair, continue to perform our duty without any expectation and reward, be witnessed to all the incidents that occurred surrounding to and within us, truly follow ascetic life, and have a love and compassion to all living beings, we will attain the fruit of Moksha or liberation. This is the last Puja symbolizing the ultimate achievement of our life.

Dev Shastra Guru Puja (Prayer for Arihants/Siddhas, Scriptures, and Teachers):
Invocation begins with Namokar Mantra and Chattari Mangalam. In this prayer the devotee bows to Siddhas, scriptures and monks who are on the path of Right View, Knowledge and Conduct. This prayer is done by taking three full cloves and holding one clove at a time between two ring fingers while keeping the clove head pointed forward while offering and reciting.

First Clove: The devotees think of the Arihants/Siddhas/Tirthankaras, Scriptures and Teachers, so that they come into their thoughts.

Second Clove: The devotees take the next step of retaining the above three in their thoughts.

Third Clove: The devotees take the last step of physically requesting them to be near them so as to guide them through on the right path.

The offerings here are similar to the Ashta Prakari Puja with flowers replaced with yellow rice, tasty food with white coconut, and fruit with almond in its shell.
Barah Bhavana (12 reflections of mind) is sung as a song. After that prayer of peace for all living beings recited followed by Namokar Mantra.

At the conclusion, Visarjan (closing) prayer is recited, which means knowingly or unknowingly if any mistakes are committed during the prayer please forgive.