Puja Schedule Vaishnodevi Temple
The 'Aarti' of the Goddess is performed twice a day first time in the morning before the sunrise and second time in the evening after the sunset. During the ''Aarti'' only the Pujaris, Pandits and security staff besides senior most functionaries of the Board at Bhawan are allowed inside the sanctum- sanctorum.
The procedure of 'Aarti' is a very sacred and lengthy one. The Pujaris perform 'Aarti' before the deity first inside the sanctum- sanctorum and than outside the cave. Before the commencement of 'Aarti', the Pujaris perform 'Aatma pujan' i,e self-purification. Then the Goddess is bathed in water, milk, ghee (Clarified butter), honey and sugar, which is called Panchamrita Puja.
Thereafter the goddess is dressed-up in a saree, chola and chunari and adorned with ornaments. The whole process takes place along with the enchantment of various shlokas and Mantras. Thereafter Tilak (sacred mark)is placed on the forehead of the deity and Naivedya (prasad) is offered to her.
The Pujaris perform pujas for various Gods and Goddesses, as it is a believed that during the Aarti time, all the Gods and Goddesses reside in the sanctum Sanctorum. The Jyoti (divine lamp) is lighted and then the 'Aarti' of the goddess is performed. After the whole procedure, the thaal which contains the lamp and various other items used in the 'Aarti', is brought outside the mouth of the holy cave, where 'Aarti' of the goddess is performed in the presence of yatris.
The yatris who remain seated outside the holy cave during the time when the Aarti is performed inside the Sanctum Sanctorum, keep listening to the Pravachans of head Pandit. After the Aarti outside the holy cave gets over, the pujari distributes Prasadam and the charanamrit (the holy water) to the devotees. The whole Aarati process takes nearly two hours during which, new entries of devotees are suspended. All the required maintenance work inside the cave is carried out during this time only.