16 steps in Hindu Puja are collectively known as Shodashopachara Puja or Shodashopachar. These 16 rituals may vary from tradition to tradition, region to region, community to community. The rituals are common for all Pujas but the mantras or slokas may differ from a puja to another (like for Ganesha Puja, Shiva Puja, Krishna Puja, Sri Rama Puja, Sri Durga Puja, etc.). The puja which is performed with Shodashopachar is only considered as full-fledged puja.
Here are the 16 steps in Hindu Puja or Shodashopachar in common:
- Aasanam (offering Chair or seat)
- Arghyam (Arghya) (offering oblation)
- Achamanam (Achaman – purifying ourselves)
- Snanam (snan – offering bath to the deity)
- Vasthram (offering clothes)
- Yagnopaveetham (offering sacred thread)
- Shri Gandham (spilling sandalwood paste or chandan)
- Alankaram (decoration)
- Pushpam (offering flowers)
- Dhupam (offering agarbatti or incense sticks)
- Deepam (lighting lamp)
- Naivedyam (offering food)
- Thambulam (offering betel leaf and betel nut)
- Neerajanam (Aarti or Harathi)
Additionally, Dhyanam, Prana Pratishta, Madhu parkam, Mukha dhaarana, Sarvopacharan Mantra Pushpam, Namaskaram, Atma Pradakshina, Samarpana, Kshamarpana, Theertha Prasada, etc. are also known as important steps in Hindu Puja apart from the above Shodashopachar Puja steps.
It is to note that Shodashopachara Puja in Purusha Sooktha vidhana, Shaiva Aradhana, and Puranoktha vidhana may vary slightly in terms of Mantras or slokas.