If we look into the literal meaning of the work 'Pranaprathista', Prana means breath i.e life-giving force and Prathista means consecration which is a live process. When we combine the two words as one, it means we are inviting the deity to enter the material form in the statues and are known as Pratima, Vigraha, or Murti. Vedic rites and mantras are chanted as a ritual invoking God to enter the Statue during the installation in the temple. The Pratima pratishta ritual is a celebration of every devotee in both faith and spirit which has these eight parts as described below:
1. Karmakutir: This is the first part and is often done at the artisan's workshop. Once the Pratima, Vigraha, or Murti is sculpted or made, it is purified by the artisan or a brahmin pundit using darbha grass(A species of grass that is long, stalky, and considered to have purifying properties by Hindus). The artisan or a brahmin pundit touches the entire murti with darbha grass to abolish any evil influences from the murti. The artisan or a brahmin pundit then closes the eyes of the Pratima by daubing a thin layer of ghee and honey over the eyes, perform 200 ahutis or Thomas while chanting the mantras. Before leaving the workshop, a red sacred thread known as Mouli or Kalawa or nada-chhadi is tied to the right wrist of the Prathima or murti.
2. Jaladhivas: Once the Prathima is transported, it is taken to the yagna mandap where the second ritual is to be performed. The Pratima is then immersed in a vessel filled with water, a small amount of panchamrut and other puja substances. The immersing of the Pratima in water is to examine any type of damage to the Pratima as it is believed that the Prathima or murti should be one piece or totally whole without any type of damage. The vessel is then covered with a cloth and the ritual of Agni purification with its mantras are chanted. Once completed, the cloth is removed and the Prathima or murti is awakened by ringing the bells. Once it is complete, the Prathima or murti is completely wiped and taken out of the vessel.
3. Dhanyadhivas: After the Prathima or murti is wiped dry, it is laid in the supine posture on top of grains or pulses usually rice or wheat, and then again the Prathima or murti is completely covered with more grains or pulses as it is considered to further purify the Prathima or murti.
4. Ghrutadhivas: Ghrut means cow's ghee and as cow's ghee is considered to be pure, the Prathima or murti is submerged in it as a way of purification. As ghee can cause slipping and damage the Prathima or murti while handling, it is often altered by placing a piece of cotton wool soaked in ghee on the foot toe of the Prathima or murti. After this, the Prathima or murti is awakened by ringing the bells and then placed on a wooden stand.
5. Snapan or Abhishek: It is the ritual of bathing a Prathima or murti with a liquid and a form of purification using 108 different types of materials. The materials used are panchamrut, milk or water containing the essence of various fragrant flowers and leaves, etc that are poured over the horns of a cow, and sugar cane juice. Each dravya(Sanskrit word that means "substances" or "entities.") is placed in each pot i.e. 108 pots are placed in front of the Prathima or murti in three groups. The South group has eleven pots; the middle group has eighty-six pots while the North group has the remaining eleven pots. The Abhishek or bathing of the Prathima or murti is then performed with the contents of each pot reciting a special mantra as per the content in the pot. This is done as it gives immense power and purity to the Prathima or murti.
6. Netra-anavaran: Netra-anavaran ritual is removing the layer of ghee and honey with a gold needle by the artisan who sculpted the Prathima or murti by holding a mirror in front of the Prathima or murti's face. The mirror is used so that the first immensely powerful vision of the Prathima or murti should not fall on a human being. It is thus offered the murti is offered food that is kept ready before the Netra-anavaran ritual begins.
7. Shodshopchar Puja: After purification and food are given to the Prathima or murti, it is laid on a new mattress with food and a pot of water for one night so that the has a good sleep. While the Prathima or murti is put to sleep, all through the night, ten brahmin pundits continually perform 200 homas and offering ahuti's(offerings made to deities during a ritual fire ceremony) of ghee in all eight directions. One drop of ghee is poured into the pot of water placed in front of the Prathima or murti which is used to sprinkle on the sleeping Prathima or murti to awaken it while chanting uttishtha(Sanskrit word meaning arise/awake) mantras. After awakening the Prathima or murti, it is taken to the inner sanctum of the mandir where it will be placed permanently on the pedestal called pindika. The mason then fixes the murti with cement to the pedestal while the pandits chant the mangalashtak (mantras of auspiciousness). After the cement dries, the brahmin pundits will perform the actual prana pratishta.
8. Prana Pratishtha: The first step in the prana pratishtha is Nyasvidhi which means touching. In this, various deities are invoked in different parts of the murti by chanting Paramatma's bij mantra. The rite starts from the head to its feet of the murti using darbha grass and a golden needle(shalaka). In this, it is believed that breath(prana) enters the murti followed by the soul, and lastly the ten senses that are infused into the Prathima or murti. Once the ritual is complete, the Prathima or murti, the Paramatma resides in it and thus is no longer called Prathima or murti but as diety. Now at the end, a maha-puja is performed and clothes(Shangar) are offered after Abhishek to the diety. Once this is complete, the diety is open to all the devotees.
“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in." — Morrie Schwartz