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The 16 Steps or Rituals in a Hindu Puja – Upacharas in Hinduism

There are numerous ways in which a Hindu worships God. For some Hindus lighting a lamp or simple mediation is the way to communicate with the Supreme Being. For some Hindus, it is chanting mantras and doing elaborate puja to a personal deity. Hindu scriptures define numerous steps that are part of a Hindu Puja. Normally, only sixteen Upacharas are followed and it is known as Shodashopachara Puja. Some Hindus limit it to five steps of worship and it is known as Panchopachara.

Here are the Sixteen Upacharas:
  1. Seating of the deity
  2. Welcoming of the deity
  3. Offering water to wash the feet
  4. Offering water to wash the hands
  5. Offering water to sip and rinse the mouth
  6. Providing a bath
  7. Offering fresh clothes and decorations
  8. Offering fresh sacred thread
  9. Offering aromatic substance like sandal paste etc
  10. Offering of flowers
  11. Burning incense
  12. Waving lights
  13. Offering food
  14. Offering betel leaves, betel nuts, camphor etc
  15. Prostrations before the deity and circumambulations
  16. Sending off
These are the general steps that are followed. There may be slight variations in some regions.

Panchopachar – Five Simple Steps and Items used in Hindu Puja