Why do we offer Aarti or Lamp to God?
Offering Aarti or offering Lap to God is a means of offering fire element. Fire is one of the primary elements of creation, along with water, earth, air, and ether. Fire is the Purest of all, it also purifies everything around it. Fire burns the negative energy and drives away the darkness to give light. Light is a symbol of knowledge and enlightenment. In the rig Veda, the first sukta starts with glorifying Agni. The sukta says that it is Agni that carries the offering to god, “Yajnyasya Devam-Rtvijam”. This is also the reason why yagnya is significant for the offering. The offering of aarti is like a smaller version of Yagya, where we use the fire as a medium to carry our offerings to the god. Symbolically it is the fire element in the stomach that digests the food to give nutrition and energy to the body. Also the soul in the human body is also like a flame of fire, The Narayan suktam says that within the heart is the great flaming fire pervading in all directions, referring to the soul. tasya madhye mahanagnirviśvārcirviśvatomukhaḥ. The offering of lap and aarti is often reflected as a reflection of the soul within.
Why do we ring the bell while doing Aarti?
The ringing of the bell while doing aarti is a way to drive the attention, of the devotees and also a way to drive away any other distracting sounds that may be present. The sound vibration of the bell also is believed to cleanse the place of any negative energy. The sound also makes the devotees think of the lord at all times.
Why do we blow conch before the beginning and after the Aarti?
The conch when blown emanates a primordial sound of Om, the Naad brahman, the sound of creation. As per a legend in Vishnu Purana, it is said that Vedas originated from the blowing of conch. There was a demon named Shankhaasura who defeated the devats and stole the Vedas, he drowned the Vedas in the ocean, Lord Vishnu incarnated as Matsya, the fish incarnation and killed the demon, lord also blew the conch-shaped bone of his ear and head to release the Vedas. The conch came to be known as shanka after the demon shankasura. Thus sounds of the conch represent the knowledge of the Vedas. The sound of the conch also marks the sound of victory and destroys all negativity around the place. It was also believed that during the ancient times the villages were small settlements and each village had a dedicated temple to it, the priest when blew the conch the sound notified the people to stop whatever they were doing and remember the lord .