With the aim of pleasing our deity with all that we have and all that we can, we might offer a few things which are unconsecrated and might end up spreading inauspiciousness around. Therefore, one must always know what are the things that are sacred and what are not, before performing a puja.
Among all the items that we use for a puja, it is not at all necessary that the same items can be used for offering to every deity or in another puja. While these things have been blessed by some Gods, they have been cursed as well by the other Gods. Hence, it must be checked what to offer to which God. Here is a list of various items that can not be used, as well as those which can be used in a puja. Take a look.
1. Incense sticks should never be used. We always see the mention of Dhoop and never of incense sticks for a puja. Incense sticks are made using the bamboo plant. The bamboo plant has been described as inauspicious for a puja in our Shastras. That is why, it was never used during Hawans and Yagnas during the Vedic period.
2. Chanting the mantras with a foul-smelling mouth is considered inauspicious too. The hair also must be washed. Offering puja with unclean hair and foul-smelling mouth makes the offering unsuccessful.
3. One must never wear torn and unclean clothes for a puja. Wearing torn clothes brings poverty and the Gods would be disappointed, as per the belief. Therefore, one should wear neat and washed clothes during the puja. Wearing new clothes is considered highly auspicious.
4. Never use Tulsi leaves as an offering to Lord Ganesha. It should not be used in the worship of Lord Bhairav as well. Lord Ganesha had cursed Goddess Tulsi that she would never be invited to his pujas.
5. Never pluck Tulsi leaves without taking a bath. This not only disappoints Goddess Tulsi but even Gods do not accept those leaves. Tulsi plant should not be watered on a Sunday.
6. A Ketaki flower should never be offered to Lord Shiva. However, Lord Vishnu can be offered this flower during the month of Kartika.
7. Plucking leaves of some plants on a Sunday is prohibited in the Shastras, Tulsi and Durva fall in that category. Doing so disappoints the deities.
8. Kunda flower can be offered to Lord Shiva only during the Magh month. Doing so in other months has been described as inauspicious.
9. Avahan and Visarjan is never done for Lord Shaligram. One must also not offer akshat to this deity. He can be worshiped using rice mixed with vermilion.
10. Never offer melted ghee or liquid sandalwood to any deity.
11. Never light one lamp using the other. It attracts poverty and bad health.
12. Never keep the diya or the lamp facing the South direction.
13. While giving bath to the idol of a deity, one must never rub the idol with the thumb. It is believed that doing this annoys the deity.
14. One must not perform Lakshmi Puja during the Krishna Paksh, Shravan Nakshatra and also on the Rittika tithi.
15. If a respected person comes before you while you are offering a puja, you must not ignore the person. He has to be respected and greeted. Ignoring him is considered inauspicious.
So, this was the list of mistakes to be avoided while performing a puja. However, here is another list mentioning the things that can highly be beneficial if used in a puja. Take a look.
1. Shastras say that panchamrit is as sacred as the amrit itself. It therefore is considered highly auspicious for the Puja. It is dear to Gods and hence pleases them.
2. Red colour is highly auspicious for Lakshmi Puja. Therefore, the wick in the lamp should be of red in colour. The lamp should be kept on the right-hand side after lighting it.
3. The sound of a conch is known to remove negative energy from the environment and generate positive vibrations. This is why, it is used in all the temples. It also pleases Goddess Lakshmi.
4. A woolen mat should be preferred for sitting on, while performing the puja.
5. Goddess Lakshmi is offered the Lotus flower. It is considered highly auspicious.
6. Pan leaves and Gulkand are also very dear to the Gods.
7. While worshiping Lord Vishnu, one should offer yellow clothes to the deity and should preferably wear yellow-coloured clothes.
8. Lord Ganesha, Lord Surya, Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga should be remembered and greeted during every puja. They are known as the Panch Dev and it is mandatory to worship them, according to the Hindu scriptures.