In Hinduism, ‘Yajna’ or 'Yagna' is a ritual of offerings, accompanied by chanting of ‘Vedic Mantra’ along with worship, prayer, praise, offering & oblation, sacrifice, etc., derived from the practice in Vedic times. ‘Yajna’ is an ancient ritual of offering and sublimating the ‘havana samagri ' (herbal preparations) in the fire.
The sublime meaning of the word ‘Yajna’ is derived from the Sanskrit verb ‘yaj ’, which has a three-fold meaning - worship of deities (Devpuja), unity (Sangathikaran) and charity (Daan). An essential element is the ritual fire i.e. the divine ‘Agni ' into which oblations poured. It is believed that whatever offered into the fire, reach to the God.
In ‘Yajna’, there are many functions associated with the priests. Those are mentioned below :
- Reciting invocations and litanies drawn from the ‘Rigveda’. The verses recited are of three kinds – introductory verses, verses pertaining to ‘Yadnya’ and eulogistic verses.
- Offering 3 kinds of oblations - those that blaze up, those that make great noise and those that sink.
- Supervising the entire performance, and correcting mistakes by means of supplementary verses invoking the ‘Vishvedevas’ (pantheon of celestials
- Among the ingredients offered as oblations in the ‘Yajna’ are large quantities of ghee, milk, grains, ‘samidha’, etc. The duration of a ‘Yajna’ varies. Some may take hours, days or even years. Some ‘Yajna’ are performed privately, while others include a large number of people.
‘Ganesh Yagna’, 'Gana Homam' ‘Datta Yagna’, 'Mahamrityunjay Yagna' ‘Vishnu Yagna’, ‘Maharudra Yagna’, ‘Navchandi Yagna’, ‘Shatchandi Yagna’, ‘Sudarshan Yagna’, 'Rakshoghna Homam' are some major types of 'yagnas'. These are performed for various reasons. For eg : for long life, for flourishing business, for getting more wealth, to overcome health problems, etc.