Five reasons for Deity worship
Srimad Bhagavatam 11.03.52-53 - Five reasons for Deity worship (download mp3)
by Vrishabhanu Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
tam tam murtim sva-mantratah
sangam sampujya vidhivat
stavaih stutva named dharim
One should worship the Deity along with each of the limbs of His transcendental body, His weapons such as the Sudarsana cakra, His other bodily features and His personal associates. One should worship each of these transcendental aspects of the Lord by its own mantra and with offerings of water to wash the feet, scented water, water to wash the mouth, water for bathing, fine clothing and ornaments, fragrant oils, valuable necklaces, unbroken barleycorns, flower garlands, incense and lamps. Having thus completed the worship in all its aspects in accordance with the prescribed regulations, one should then honor the Deity of Lord Hari with prayers and offer obeisances to Him by bowing down.
Srila Sridhara Svami has mentioned that aksata, or unbroken barleycorns (mentioned in verse 53), are to be used in decorating the Deity with tilaka, and not in the actual puja. Naksatair arcayed visnum na ketakya mahesvaram: “Lord Visnu should not be worshiped with unbroken barleycorns, and Lord Siva should not be worshiped with ketaki flowers.”