If you have had questions like these, you are in the right frame of mind. Trying to understand something is the fundamental basis of our evolution.
Let us try to decode and see what are the major ingredients that can make a puja work or not work when lacking in the same
Puja is a part of bhakti yoga. In this form of yoga, you try to find the supreme through your emotion, not intelligence.
Thus it is said by the Vedas and rishis that for any puja to work, three things are essential from the doer’s side:
During the puja, one must be present in a state of love and affection towards the god they are praying to. That emotion within our hearts is of utmost importance, not just the puja samagri or how long you perform the puja or how much you spend on it etc.
The pujari in front of you doing the puja has learned Vedas and is performing the puja by placing himself in the front (purohit -> the word means one who puts himself in front).
In other words, he is performing the ritual because we don’t know how to do the same ourselves. Our attitude towards the pujari must be a sense of respect and surrender.
Even if they make mistakes, if we are in the sense of surrender and doing things as the pujari says, then the Vedas say that even if the procedure is wrong, the result would still work out.
We need to be aware of the puja and be in the moment. Even if we can’t understand every mantra, a general awareness about the steps in the puja and the logic is important. This keeps our minds focussed and present instead of running away.
Your ‘bhavana’ must be that, god , in the form of energy has actually come in front of you and you are performing the puja and offering to the divine himself/herself.
Keep your mind free of any other banter or wandering and keep bringing it back to the puja. Instruct it to listen to the mantras, have your own silent dialogue with god. Your genuine effort in this regard can do wonders.
It’s a bit like going to a gym:
Same with puja.
To summarize, let us perform pujas to the best of our abilities, with this attitude, with our surrender and love towards god. And if we do, puja works! Every time,and for anyone. The supreme cosmic energy does not differentiate!
We hope this article helped you understand the purpose of puja and how to do puja worship.