What Is the purpose of aachman at the beginning of a ceremony?
At the beginning of every religious ceremony it is customary for the priest and the person conducting the ceremony to take water in the right palm thrice and drink it. This water is termed aachman.
Religious texts direct that aachman be taken thrice because:
By taking the aachman thrice all the three Vedas, Rigveda, Yajuroeda and Samaveda, become content and grant whatever one desires.
In the Manusmriti, 2/60, it is said:
In the beginning aachman must be taken thrice.
Aachman helps clear the throat and voice, helping one can chant the mantras with clarity. During all prayers, begin by taking the aachman thrice. If the prayers are lengthy, aachman can be taken again thrice in between to soothe a parched throat.
It is also believed that by taking the aachman one is absolved of physical, mental and oral sins and is able to achieve intangible results that, though not visible, are beneficial all the same.
Why are offerings made to the Navgrah at the beginning of all religious ceremonies?
Amongst Hindus it is customary that before doing anything auspicious or religious, after first making an offering to Sri Ganesh, offerings are made to the Navgrah, or the nine planets - Surya, Chandrama, Mangal, Budh, Brihaspati, Shukra, Shani, Rahu and Ketu.
It is believed that these nine planets control everything in this world, and also the lives of every individual. The extent of the influence varies with the place and time of one's birth. Astrology is the science that studies and forecasts the effects of these planets on the lives of people. When something new is done, it is natural for everyone to desire success and for this, the blessings of all nine planets are sought through offerings and prayers. Even if the effect of any of the planets is malefic, through prayers this effect is considerably controlled.
It is believed that the planets reflect some rays on earth, influencing the lives of people. Every little change in the position of these planets and stars affects individuals, by affecting different parts of the body and the flow of blood. The body derives energy from Surya. Therefore, every little change affects energy levels. The circulating blood transmits the changes to every part of the body immediately. Brilliant and illuminating, Surya is the storehouse of spiritual energy. Devotees of Surya are greatly blessed. Chandrama is known as the master of medicines. Since it controls the mind, it is also known as the king of the mind. Mangal is