Rituals play an important part in Hinduism. Rituals offered give a glimpse of the divine order as well as a sense of belonging to something bigger than us. When we establish a ritual practice, we produce beauty, order, harmony, reverence, patience, and appreciation, which enrich everything that we do. Ceremonial observance adds layers - depth, dimension, drama, and distinction to our lives, making the ordinary seem special, and the special, extraordinary. Rituals and ceremonies inspire even the most mundane parts of life with significance and celebration. So for instance, eating a meal becomes much more than the mere intake of calories and nutrients. It becomes a sacred act that places you in the moment and fills you with gratitude.
. Ash (Vibhuti): signifying the destruction and purification of the lower nature. When anything is thrown into a fire, the impurities are incinerated. Throw a dead body, cow dung, sandalwood or any kind of filth into the fire and it is transformed into its universal essence of ash. The physical reality is reduced "from ash to ash". The mind is turned from the physical material consciousness to the spiritual consciousness through the fire of wisdom and meditation. The ash represents the purification or the transformation of the material into the spiritual when placed in the fire of wisdom.
. Sandalwood paste (Chandana): a precious substance, traditionally valued for its cooling properties and sweet scent, sandalwood paste is applied to the Ajna Chakra, or Third Eye. It is said to open the eye of intuition, so that Knowledge may enter. The knowledge that is awakened through the practice of yoga lies dormant in all; sandalwood paste helps to awaken the memory.
. Kumkum: the red powder is symbolic of the Divine Mother, the Shakti (power) of God in the universe. Nothing is possible without the grace of the Mother. If we have energy to do anything, it is her grace. Knowledge, discrimination, humility, courage, memory, and all virtues are all grace of the Mother. The kumkum represents the Mother's grace symbolically and energetically.
A form of ritual worship, puja uses a visual or concrete image of God. He is treated as an honoured guest, welcomed, bathed, dressed in fine garments and jewels, garlanded, decorated, offered incense and food, and praised with hymns and mantras. The devotee attempts to externalize his inward iove for the Supreme. Puja is one of the modes of bhakti yoga, the devotional approach to mystical union.