Exploring this Job

You can learn more about this career by talking to archakas about their jobs. Visit https://www.deshvidesh.com/religious/list-of-hindu-temples-in-usa/ for a list of Hindu temples in the United States. Visit a temple and observe an archaka performing puja. The Hindu American Foundation offers a wealth of information about the career of archaka and other temple jobs at its Web site, http://www.hafsite.org. Finally, check out the following resources to learn more about Hinduism: 

  • ReligionFacts-Hinduism: http://www.religionfacts.com/hinduism
  • BBC Religions-Hinduism: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism
  • Hinduism Today: https://www.hinduismtoday.com

The Job

According to the Hindu American Foundation, Hinduism is “not divided by denomination, but by other categories, including deity traditions, sampradaya, parampara, and darsana. Most Hindus belong to one of four major deity traditions—Shaiva, Shakta, Vaishnava, and Smarta.” (Hinduism, which is the third-largest religion in the world, is complex and fascinating. A more-detailed examination of its deity traditions, major schools of thought, and holy scriptures can be found at the HFA’s Web site, https://www.hafsite.org.)

Job responsibilities vary for archakas by deity traditions, size of the congregation, and other criteria, but typical duties include:

  • conducting daily prayers (pujas), rituals, festivals, and special deity ceremonies (e.g., Durga Puja, Shiva Abhishekham, or Govardhan Puja) in the temple and Hindu family residences
  • performing samskaras (rites of passage in a human being’s life described in ancient Sanskrit texts) such as Jathakarma (birth of a child), Namakaranam (new child naming ceremony), Annaprashanam (the first time a baby eats solid food), Aksharaabhyasam (preparing children for education), Vivaham (wedding), Bhoomi Poojan (new building construction or tilling the land for the first time), Gruhapravesham (new house), Upaakarma (thread-changing ceremony for student-scholars), Nishchayathartham (wedding engagement), Varalakshmi Vratham (prosperity and happiness for one’s family), Brahmotsavam (requesting protection and happiness), Antima Sanskar (funeral), and various homam/havan (purification) rituals.
  • leading Stotra recitation (a melodically sung hymn)
  • playing musical instruments such as the harmonium and tabla 
  • providing intellectual, spiritual, and religious leadership to the community at large
  • developing and executing spiritual and religious programs for diverse Hindu audiences, including seniors and children
  • performing religious rituals of various major festivals/practices covered under the broad umbrella of the Hindu faith, explaining the significance of these rituals in modern terms, and making them relevant to the modern way of life in United States (particularly for youth and children)
  • ensuring that the temple is maintained with sacredness and cleanliness
  • preparing special food offerings (prasadam) for Hindu worship services
  • helping to raise money for the temple through various fundraising activities