Whenever we enter a South Indian temple we usually observe a small dome-like structure that accompanies Dwajasthambam called Bali Peetam.
It can be normally seen in between the main Gopuram and Dwajasthambam of the temple. However, in some temples, it can also be seen outside the Gopuram.
The word Bali Peetam actually means Sacrificial pedestal in English.
It doesn’t mean physical sacrifices as the name implies but it actually refers to the sacrifice of Arishadvargas in us.
Arishadvargas are the six things that prevent us to attain Enlightenment and Moksha. They are Kama(Lust), Krodha(Anger), Lobha(Greed), Moha (attachment or love), Mada(Pride), and Matsarya(Envy).
Use of Bali Peetam in Temples
The main use of Bali Peetam is to offer the Naivedyam(Bali) to all the Avarana devatas of the temple.
After offering the Maha Naivedyam to the main deity inside the temple some of it is also offered on the flat surface of Bali Peetam to the Aavarana devatas. The priest of the temple performs the puja and offers the naivedyam to appease these deities.
The offering made is called Bali Bhukku and is only for those gods and not for humans.
Significance of Bali Peetam
Immense importance is given to the Bali Peetam in Agamic scriptures.
According to the Shaivagamas, there are seven kinds of lingas in the temple namely Shikharam, Gopuram, Dwaram, Moola lingam, Archaka lingam, Prakaram, and the Bali Peetam.
In which Bali Peetam is referred as Bhadra lingam.
The main idea behind placing a Bali Peetam is to surrender ones Arishadvargas.
So, whenever a person enters the temple, they need to surrender their Arishadvargas and move forward into the temple only as a devotee with a pure mind and also with a feeling that everyone is equal in the abode of god.
Bali Peetam looks like a small dome-like structure with a flat surface on its top for placing temple offerings.
Its structure represents an open lotus flower with petals carved around its base.
A temple may have one or more of them. However, the one placed towards the east is considered as primary.
It is normally made up of rock. But according to Shilpa Ratnam, it can also be constructed using wood or soil.
Do’s and Don’ts
Devotees must pray and leave their arishadvargas at the Bali Peetam before entering the main temple.
If possible, one should touch and prostrate in front of it with true devotion.
Pradakshina performed in the temple must also include Balipeetam, Dwajastambam, and the Vahanamandapam if they were present inside the temple.
The food kept on this sacrificial altar should not be consumed by the devotees as it was offered to the Avarana devatas.