The intent of any worship ritual is Devotion. What better way to pacify the One who roars (rud-“, to weep/cry/roar/yell) than a soothing envelope of fragrant and aromatic substances while we urge of his calmness through Rudrābhiṣeka. The devotional purpose is to enrich the living presence in Deity (prāṇa:pratistha).
Bhūta shuddhi, takes the second aspect towards it, at the end of the day there are only 5 main elements if not for the other what else can comfort the other. So, one bhūta is used to soothe the other. Hence many items used as offerings (upācharas) represent some aspect of bhūta. A concept emerging from the Tantric assembly of texts. Also, an integral part of Yoga Darshana.
Though Brahmanas (Mostly) associating its homage with nature forces. Some fragments of Tantra concepts associates’ worship with rūpa/swarūpa using its Āgamas. Āgamas are an elaborate methodology and techniques that one can correlate with the intellectual terminology called Science (the study of the phenomenon). In that sense, science is involved in the Āgamas. Rather there is the natural elemental understanding of all metals, the grain of the stone, and natural/celestial symmetry involved in construction (Vastu Śāstra).
Now the science: stone or metal have the effects of weathering processes (high cold to high heats and constant flux and dryness within indoor can cause cracks). How do you think the deserts are formed? A crack can lead to total breakage of the integrity of the stone. Metal however has a different molecular composition. An excellent article attached at the end says: “The silpi who quarries the stone must be sensitive to the nature of the stone and get a feeling for how it will break in order to determine how to place his chisels”. And density and hollowness which can cause musical tones in stone. Densely grained stones like black granite can withstand strong acids. Just the gopuram can weigh 80 to 100 tons of stone. Though topical climate takes care of the outer part, yet once a year Gopuram also gets their share of cleansing and sealing. Therefore, juices are not usually poured but nowadays there is no such limitation. To preserve the integrity of Stone various types of comforts are provide to them in the forms of Elemental cleaning and sealing. The cleansing is to remove surface impurities, later sealers are used to fill the subtle cracks and provider a layer for defense. After all, we want our temples to last for the next 1000 years don’t, we. Today honey may be highly refined but the wax of it is rubbed against the lingam in many old temples I used to see when young. All other fats (oil, ghee …) are anointed to the stone for sealing. Venkatachalam uses a rare cat fur oil to preserve our dear Vemkatapathi. Sandstone Lingas only get abhiṣekam using Jasmin oil, I mean devotion should also use subtle science to preserve our consecrated elements and not go rouge and perform water/milk on sandstone or wooden Linga or metal Linga that might react to strong acids. As a part of Rajupāchara not limited to pancamrutam (Milk, Yogart, Ghee, Honey, Sugar/jaggery), many kalasha (metal pots) filled with gemstones/pearls are kept with water for a certain time and used as abhiṣekam. Some remote places with sugarcane farming also use raw sugarcane juice and jaggery juices. It’s all about treating the diety with the highest level of kingly comforts, similar to how the hosts of Yajñá (mainly kings) would receive such ceremonial bath (as lustration).
Following is a beautiful article by Hindu priest Rami Sivan: (source https://qr.ae/pN9T7o)
The Agamas contain detailed instructions on the performance of the “Lustration Ceremony” known as Abhishekam which varies in complexity from five items to 1000 pots of water (Sahasra Kalasha Abhisheka).
The enshrined icon is the living presence of the Deity who is treated as a King – and kings should be bathed with the most elaborate facility that the devotees can afford.
The following are some of the principle recommended items.
- Water in which Gems (a pearl) have been kept.
- Iron- water
- Sandal paste
- 5 cow products
- Sugar-cane juice
- Coconut water
- Lemon grass
Don’t worry – the quantities poured over the icons are not enough to cause critical market shortage nor will their distribution among the poor improve their nourishment or contribute to their health and well-being.
All the items are purchased from providers at market rates. During festivals, the vendors raise their prices in order to gouge profits. What consumers do with their legitimately purchased products shouldn’t be of any concern to others.
Following is a link to the Video on Youtube: