Five duties of the day in the life of a Hindu
In addition to the normal activities associated with one’s profession (varna dharma) and stage in life (shrama dharma), the daily routine of a devout Hindu is to perform panchamah yagnas (five daily duties) and pancha nitya karmas (five constant duties). These are practices that have been set down in the holy texts that will help guide a person through the landscape of everyday life and ensure peace, material and spiritual prosperity.
1. Worship God (Deva Yagna) in the form of a family deity (Ishta Devata), kept in the puja area at home. The devata should be the object of all prayers and meditations. This daily practice helps one to invite divine presence to be manifested at all times in one’s consciousness, through all daily activities. Family members should worship together every day and this practice unites the entire family with energy generated by chants, shlokas, and the study of scriptures. Tradition says that “a family that prays together stays together.”
2. Study Vedas and other scriptures (Brahma Yagna). This practice refreshes one’s mind with sacred knowledge and also helps to preserve and enrich such knowledge.
3. Contemplating teachings of the sages, saints, holy men and women, and one’s forefathers (Pitru Yagna) will preserve, enrich and continue cultural heritage and family values.
4. Provide food for those who are in need (Bhuta Yagna). This practice is intended to create the spirit of sharing with others.
5. Serve all guests, irrespective of their status with love, respect and reverence (Nara Yagna). This practice is the basis for the traditional hospitality of Hindu households.