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KS3 Religious Studies
The Mandir
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is aobjectives
What do mandirs look like?
What is the purpose of the murtis?
What is puja?
What is the role of the priests?
How should we behave in a mandir?
What makes the mandir special to Hindus?
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What is a mandir?
Hindu temples are
called mandirs.
The word mandir comes from
We believe that the mandir is
the Sanskrit mandira,
the house of God. It is a very
meaning ‘house’.
sacred place.
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What do mandirs look like?
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What do mandirs look like?
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Hindu deities
There are hundreds of different gods and goddesses in
Hinduism, yet Hindus believe that essentially there is only
one god. This is because Hindus believe that God can take
many forms. Brahman, the Supreme Being, has three
aspects: Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, the protector; and
Shiva, the destroyer. In turn these three aspects have
different human or animal forms or avatars – Vishnu, for
example, has ten avatars, amongst them the legendary
heroes Rama and Krishna who stand for bravery and justice.
It is easier for humans to feel close to a deity representing
justice or kindliness than it is to understand the mystery and
enormity of Brahman. For this reason, most Hindus choose
one or two deities and form a special relationship with them.
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Which deity?
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Each mandir is dedicated to a particular deity. Hindus
believe that this deity is literally present in the mandir in the
form of a murti.
A murti is a statue or image of a deity which is blessed by
the priests in a special ceremony. Once this ceremony has
taken place, the deity is present in the murti. To Hindus, the
murti is the deity, and must be treated with all
due care and respect.
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Caring for the murtis
The mandir is the house of God, and the main job of the
mandir priests is to serve God by taking care of the murtis.
Every morning the priest wakes the murtis up, bathes them
and dresses them in clean clothes. He offers them meals
throughout the day, and closes the shrine to the public in
the afternoon so that the murtis can rest. In the evening he
dresses them in their nightclothes and gets them
ready for bed.
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Why murtis?
We believe that God is present in
everything. Logically, therefore, God is also
present in the murtis. They simply provide
us with a focus for our devotions. They
allow us to pray to God in a concrete form
rather than in the abstract. This makes God
seem closer to us. It makes God more
I like to think of the murti as being a bit like
a computer interface. Just as we use a
monitor, a mouse and a keyboard to interact
with the electronic brain of our computers,
so the murti is a way for human beings to
communicate with the mystery that is God.
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Why murtis?
Sometimes people ask us why we worship
dolls and idols. They don’t understand what
murti-worship is about. We don’t worship a
statue, we worship the deity within.
It’s also important to understand that
although we believe the murti is a deity, that
deity is far more than just the murti. In our
religion we have a saying: ‘He who sees
Shiva in the poor, in the weak and in the
diseased, really worships Shiva. If a
worshipper sees Shiva only in the image his
worship is preliminary.’
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