Hindus have sung Hindi aarti songs for centuries with the practice still gaining strength among modern practitioners of the ancient religion. These songs are usually performed as an accompaniment to the ritual known as aarti, which is a religious ritual of worship for a particular deity.
Basically, the ritual involves offering lamps with wicks soaked in either camphor or ghee – a form of purified butter – to one or several deities. The aarti songs are performed as these lamps are being offered ostensibly in praise of the gods.
It must be emphasized that many of the modern Hindi aarti songs are derivatives of originals handed down from ancient times. This is because a common aarti song can be revised depending on the deity being worshiped during the morning and evening religious worship rituals. Most of the aarti songs in worship of a particular deity have retained their ancient original forms with little revisions made in the modern period.
The most popular of these songs are the Om Jai Jagdish Hare, which is dedicated to all deities and, thus, its reputation as the Universal Aarti. Variations are made depending on the deity being worshiped during the aarti ritual with the most common examples being the Om jai Shiv omkara (Shiva), the Om jai Lakshmi Mata (Lakshmi) and Om jai Adya Shakti (Ma Shakti).
Hindi aarti songs are essential components of the puja, which in itself is a significant ritual among Hindus. The Puja marks the beginning and the ending of many religious customs, which explains the intense preparations made to ensure its success.
It is, after all, widely regarded as the best way to invoke a deity’s blessings upon mankind. The songs are then considered as akin to prayer directed toward the deity so that blessings will come upon the faithful.
The practice is said to have originated from the Vedic fire rituals. Worshipers used flowers, water and handkerchiefs, lamps, peacock fans and yak-tail fans to represent the elements of earth for solidity, water for liquidity, fire for heat, air for movement, and ether for space, respectively. Nowadays, these symbolisms are still present in the puja ritual.
Ultimately, Hindi aarti songs are meant to express the worshipers’ humility and gratitude to the deities for the blessings in their lives.