Practically every day of my life I walk to the nearest temple, regardless of distance, for the 4:30 a.m. arati, whether it’s down the hall from my bed or a few blocks away—as in Mayapura. The exception would be on long walks where there may not be a room or building for honouring arati.
What is an arati?
It is a presentation of paraphernalia offered to the Supreme—things such as incense, a small dhiya (flame), water, flowers, etc.—all to symbolize appreciation to the Creator. One very special part of the presentation is the offering of sound, a sacred sound—mantras.
Always done at an early hour, before sunrise, the arati sets a tone for the day. Like any other day it is a space in time which is meant for ‘giving’. The arati’s begin with the blowing of a conch, even before the mantras begin. In many ways, this signifies the start of the day.
During the time of arati a small bell is consistently ringing by the shake of the priest or priestess’ left wrist. Each article of paraphernalia is presented to the presiding deity of Krishna in the shrine. With the right hand there is the wave or motion of the article being presented to the deity—usually in the form of a circle. For instance, the article can be held and, with a circular sweep of the hand, directed in circles of three to the face, two to the chest, four to the feet, and seven swirled around the entire deity’s form. The arati is completed with a final blow of the conch. This morning Nandini Radha opened the curtains, blew the conch and proceeded with the arati ceremony.
May the Source be with you!