By Swami Harshananda
Homa literally means ‘pouring oblation’.
Vedic sacrifices, which were very simple in the beginning, gradually grew into a labyrinth of rites and rituals. Eventually, simpler fire-rituals conducted in the domestic fire evolved. Homa was initiated in such way.
Literally, homa (or havana) means the act of pouring an oblation (usually of ghee or clarified butter) into a duly consecrated fire. It is an essential feature of domestic rites. It is often considered as an integral part of special pujā or worship of a deity.
The major steps involved in the performance of a homa are:
- Preparing the sthaṇḍila
- Purification of the ājya
- Warming the ladle
- Putting the faggots and lighting the fire
- Pouring of the oblations with mantras appropriate to the deity
- Ceremonially putting out the fire, generally with curds
- Preparing the rakṣā
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore