Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Abhishekam Mean?

Abhishekam is a Sanskrit word meaning “sprinkling” or “wetting,” and refers to the Hindu ritual of pouring water or other sacred substances on a statue of a deity while also chanting mantras. It is akin to puja, another Sanskrit word that means “worship.” The principle behind abhishekam is total surrender to and love of the deity. It is believed that by bathing the statue, or murti, the devotees cleanse and purify their own minds.

Abhishekam is also practiced in some forms of yoga, particularly Bhakti yoga.


Yogapedia Explains Abhishekam

The purifying liquids used in abhishekam can include milk, yogurt, ghee, honey, sugar, oil and fruit juices, among others. The first five of these represent the five elements of water, earth, fire, air and ether. Panchamrit, a mixture of all five, may also be poured over the murti. After the bathing, the murti is dressed, fed and praised with hymns.

By offering the substances representing five elements, the devotees ask the deity to purify those elements within themselves as well as the corresponding five senses: vision (water), taste (earth), hearing (fire), smell (ether) and touch (air).

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