Following is a detailed description of the procedure for home worship of Gaura-Nitai Deities. This process may also be followed in offering worship to other Deity forms, or to the Pancha Tattva picture.
Waking the Deities:-
1. After bathing, dressing, applying tilaka, and performing acamana, offer obeisances to the Spiritual Master.
2. While ringing a bell, call out jaya sri-sri-gaura-nitai! and turn on the altar lights.
3. Ringing a bell, touch the lotus feet of the Spiritual Master (picture or murti) and ask him to rise from bed; then touch the lotus feet of Gaura-Nitai and ask Them to rise from bed. (If the Deities are not put physically in beds, visualize that They have rested in bed and are now rising from it.)
4. Offer, or meditate on offering, water for Their Lordships to sip (acamana). If possible, offer them sweets.
Bhoga Offering :-
1. On a plate reserved for the Lord’s use, nicely arrange the bhoga preparations. Perform acamana and offer obeisances to the Spiritual Master (Srila Prabhupada or your initiating guru). Set the offering plate in front of the Deities, either directly on the altar or on a table before the altar. Arrange for the Lord to eat in private, perhaps by putting up a curtain before the altar.
2. With your with hand purify the bhoga by sprinkling it lightly with water from a pancha-patra while chanting the maha-mantra.
3. Sitting on an asana before the altar and ringing a bell, recite three times the pranama prayers to the Spiritual Master, begging permission to assist him in his service to the Lord:
nama om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale
srimate Bhaktivedanta Swami iti namine
I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krishna on this earth, having taken shelter at His lotus feet.
namas te sarasvate deve gaura-vani-pracharine
Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Sarasvati Gosvami. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Chaitanya deva and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.
Chant the following prayer to Lord Caitanya three times, requesting His mercy:
namo maha-vadanyaya krsna-prema-pradaya te
krsnaya krsna-caitanya-namne gaura-tvise namah
Chant the following prayer three times, offering respect to Lord Krsna:
namo brahmanya-devaya-go-brahmana-hitaya ca
jagad-dhitaya krsnaya govindaya namo namah
4. Leave the room for ten minutes, allowing the Lord and his associates (including the Spiritual Master and the previous Acaryas) to eat. During this time, if initiated, chant the Gayatri mantras for the Spiritual Master and for Lord Caitanya (the third and fifth guru-given mantras); then chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra and other Vaisnava songs.
Re-enter the room, clapping your hands three times. Remove the plate, praying that you have served the Lord and His associates to Their full satisfaction.
While it is not expected that home worship be strictly punctual, as in the temple, it is best to keep as regular a schedule as possible. Whatever food one prepares for oneself and others must be offered to the Deities, so the number of offerings may vary; however, one should have a set number of offerings in the day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for example) to which the family cooking schedule is oriented.
Daily Service :-
You should worship the Deities with arati and kirtana at least once a day, and preferably twice, in the morning and evening. If possible, also offer dhupa-arati after the midday bhoga offering.
Morning Worship (Bathing and Dressing)
One of the simplest ways to worship the Lord is to offer each item mentally while presenting a spoonful of water from a panca-patra and then discard the water into a throw-out pot. You may do this without mantras, simply by requesting the Lord to accept each item. Perform this worship in the morning.
If you cannot physically bathe the Deities every day, you should do so regularly, at least once every two weeks (perhaps on Ekadasi), especially if they are metal Deities who need to be polished. At that time it is best to worship Them using actual paraphernalia, to dress Them and to offer Them flowers, etc.
The basic procedures for Gaura-Nitai worship is as follows:-
- Gather all the required paraphernalia and arrange it neatly and conveniently for performing the worship. Make sure you have everything you need so you won’t have to interrupt the worship to get missing items.
- Sit on an asana and perform acamana; then lightly sprinkle yourself, the area, and the paraphernalia with water from the panca-patra, chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra.
- Offer worship to the Spiritual Master as follows: ringing a bell with your left hand, offering flowers dipped in sandalwood paste at his lotus feet. Beg for his blessings to perform the worship of Gaura-Nitai. Then chant the Gayatri mantras silently.
- Offer worship to Gaura-Nitai as follows:
o Invite Their Lordships to the bathing receptacle with a gesture of the hands, remove Their clothing, clean Them with a damp cloth, and cover Them with gamchas. If the Deities are metal, polish Them at this time, using a cloth to apply almond paste or powdered gopi-candana mixed with a little lemon juice. Avoid the eyes and painted areas. Clean off the gopi-candana or paste with a soft, damp cloth.
o Ringing a bell in your left hand, pour water over Their Lordships from a conch held in your right hand. Fill the conch at least three times. Chant the Brahma-samhita prayers while bathing Them:
laksavrtesu surabhir abhipalayantam
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, the first progenitor who is tending the cows, yielding all desire, in abodes built with spiritual gems, surrounded by millions of purpose trees, always served with great reverence and affection by hundreds of thousands of laksmis or gopis.
venum kvanantam aravinda-dalayataksam-
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is adept in playing on His flute, with blooming eyes like lotus petals with head decked with peacock’s feather, with the figure of beauty tinged with the hue of blue clouds, and His unique loveliness charming millions of Cupids.
o Dry the Deities with towels, dress Them, and offer ornaments and garlands.
o Ringing a bell, offer flowers and Tulasi leaves (if available) with candana to Their Lordships lotus feet; then offer incense and a ghee or camphor lamp.
o Ringing a bell and chanting the prayers for offering bhoga, offer some fruit and/or sweets and drinking water.
o Offer obeisances and beg forgiveness for any offenses you may have committed in the worship.
o Finally, clear away the paraphernalia used in the worship. At this time you may offer a simple darsana-arati with incense, flowers, and camara (or simply with camara) while singing or playing a recording of the Govindam song.
Services in the Course of the Day :-
You may offer breakfast, lunch, and the evening meal in the same manner as described above. After lunch (followed by a dhupa-arati if possible), the Deities should be put to rest, at least by meditation, and They should be closed from view in the afternoon. As in all cases, if Deities are in a public living space, make sure they are curtained when not being attended, and offered proper respect when the curtain is open.
Putting the Deities to Rest at Night :-
1. Offer obeisances to the Spiritual Master and perform acamana.
2. change the Deities’ dress to nightclothes, or at least remove Their ornaments and garlands.
3. Arrange the Deities’ beds and invite Their Lordships to take rest. Lay Them down in Their beds and visualize that you are massaging Their legs.
4. Finally, offer obeisances and turn off the lights.