What is Arati?
Arati (pronounced “arti”) is the waving of lights. The word comes from the Sanskrit aratrika, meaning “light that removes the darkness.” After meditating, we give our love and gratitude to God and the teacher by singing a devotional song while one of the group waves a ghee lamp before their forms. At the end of the song, the person with the lamp will bring it to each of us so that we can pass our hands over the flame and draw the purifying energy from the flame over our eyes, the tops of our heads, and our hearts.
The five flames in the arati lamp represent several things including the five elements the body is made of— earth, air, fire, water, ether. So when offering arati, the flames can, in part, represent our physical incarnation and the light as a purifying of our negative qualities. It is a little fire ceremony of purification. Sometimes camphor is used. The lighting of the camphor signifies the individual ego melting like the camphor, and the individual soul (jivatman) becoming one with the Divine.
As we sing and offer with our faith, love and devotion, the offering of arati goes beyond the physical. It goes all the way up the lineage to the ultimate source. And as we draw the flames with our hands toward our upturned faces, we receive blessings from the entire lineage— from Lord Rama and Hanumanji, through to Dhyanyogiji and Shri Anandi Ma.
After arati, we each have an opportunity to receive darshan, that is, to come up individually to Anandi Ma to receive her blessing.