Aarti (आरती) also spelled arati, arathi, aarthi (from the Sanskrit word aratrika with the same meaning) is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, a form of Puja. In Sanskrit “Aa” means “towards”, and “rati” means “the highest love for God”. By performing an aarti, one is expressing one’s devotion to God.
Aarti refers to the traditional Hindu devotional song. Aarti is performed and sung to develop the highest love for God. In Sanskrit. Aarti are the verses or poems sung in the praise of God with light from wicks soaked in ghee or camphor. In the Vedas there is a ritual of Havan or homa from here the concept of Aarti is derived.
Aarti is said to have descended from the Vedic concept of fire rituals, or homa. In the traditional aarti ceremony, the flower represents the earth (solidity), the water and accompanying handkerchief correspond with the water element (liquidity), the lamp or candle represents the fire component (heat), the peacock fan conveys the precious quality of air (movement), and the yak-tail fan represents the subtle form of ether (space). When aarti is performed, the performer faces deity of God (or divine element, e.g. Ganges river) and concentrates on the form of God by looking into the eyes of the deity (it is said that eyes are the windows to the soul) to get immersed. Aarti is waved in circular fashion, in clockwise manner around the deity. After every circle (or second or third circle), when Aarti has reached the bottom (6-8 o’ clock position), the performer waves it backwards while remaining in the bottom (4-6 o’ clock position) and then continues waving it in clockwise fashion. The incense represents a purified state of mind, and one’s “intelligence” is offered through the adherence to rules of timing and order of offerings. Thus, one’s entire existence and all facets of material creation are symbolically offered to the Lord via the aarti ceremony.
In Pooja/Aarti, Hindus pour or sacrifice things into the flame. Whether it be just the burning coals or cow dung or pouring of Ghee in the Flame. This Act Has a VERY DEEP MEANING in it. It is INTENTIONALLY offered to the fire.
Hinduism has a long tradition of aarti songs, simply referred to as ‘Aarti’, sung as an accompaniment to the ritual of aarti. It primarily eulogizes to the deity the ritual is being offered to, and several sects have their own version of the common aarti songs that are often sung on chorus at various temples, during evening and morning aartis. The Arati plate is generally made of metal, usually silver, bronze or copper. On it must repose a lamp made of kneaded flour, mud or metal, filled with oil or ghee. A cotton wick is put into the oil and then lighted, or camphor is burnt instead. The plate also contains flowers, incense and akshata.
Everything used to do aarti must be in its most natural form since the objective of the ritual is to reach a purer state. The purpose of performing aarti is the waving of lighted wicks before the deities in a spirit of humility and gratitude, wherein faithful followers become immersed in God’s divine form. It symbolises the five elements: 1) ether (akash), 2) wind (vayu), 3) fire (agni), 4) water (jal), and 5) earth (pruthvi).
Reference : Aarti Collection