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This page created on: 07/02/2020

Last modified: 07/02/2020


Used by Hindus, a murti is a physical representation of a deity, which that deity can inhabit, and through which the deity is worshipped.

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Murtis are believed to be places of residence for the gods, who are installed in the murti during a ceremony (known as the prana pratishtha (, and thereafter treated exactly the same as the deity would be treated, including feeding, bathing, and dressing them.

A murti becomes venerable for Hindus only after it is enlivened with the spiritual energy and essence of the Deity. Because it contains the living presence of the Deity, a murti is more than a physical representation or a meditational tool. And so devout Hindus can see beyond the stone or metal or paint, and endeavour to relate to and serve the divine spirit within.

It’s important to note that the practitioners don’t actually believe the murti is the deity, but that the deity resides within the murti – just as a hand is placed within a glove. Being supremely powerful, the same deity can reside within many murtis without being diminished, so there is no contradiction if another temple installs the same god or goddess (in fact, for most Hindus, all Hindu deities are considered to be emanations of one single god - although the identity of this one god can differ depending on who you ask).

The use of murtis is not universal to all Hindu traditions, but the vast majority use them as a way to focus their spiritual attention. The form and deity, however, can vary considerably – there are millions of deities in the Hindu cosmos, and different geographic regions can often have ties to a particular goddess or god.

Typical forms of worship with a murti include offerings of food, flowers, or incense. Devotees may also make an offering of light and song known as aarti, in which a flame or lamp is passed over and around the murti, along with prostrations and bowing.

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Photo by Mohnish Landge on Unsplash

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