According to the Hindu religion, a visit to a temple is incomplete without doing the Pradakshina, meaning circumambulation which consists of walking around in a circle as a form of worship in Hindu ceremonies in India. The devotees walk around the innermost chamber of the shrine which houses the deity, the garbhagriha. This is even done around the sacred fire, trees and plants like the Tulsi plant, the Pipal tree. The Parikrama or Prakshina is even done in pilgrimage centers. The literal mean of the word Pradakshina is ‘to the right.’ Hence, while doing the pradakshina, one needs to go to the left hand side so that the deity around the Sanctum Sanctorum is on the right side. Pradakshina is also regarded to be one of the customary aspects of visiting a temple.
Generally, pradakshina is done after the traditional puja has been offered to the deity and is performed in a meditative mood. If we break the word Pra-Da-Ksi-Na, the syllable Pra dispels sin, the syllable Da bestows what is desired, the syllable Ksi causes the destruction of Karman and the syllable Na is the giver or bestower of salvation.
The Pradakshina is always done in a clockwise direction, but do we know the reason behind it? This is because we always believe that God exists in the center of the universe. He is the center of our very existence. He is Omni-present. So, when we do pradakshina in a clockwise direction, we believe that all our actions and thoughts are centered on God, the universal power of the world. The center point remains fixed at all times no matter at what distance we perform the pradakshina. This reminds us of the eternal truth that God is the center if the gravity and the prime focus of our existence. Presuming that the Lord is always on our right side, we do the pradakshina in a clockwise direction. Just as the sun remains at the center of the solar system and all the planets rotate and revolve around it, similarly, God remains at the center around whom we go round in a clockwise direction with our thoughts and actions dwelling on him. This also reminds us that we should always lead a righteous path of truth and Dharma in life.
It is believes that every pradakshina taken around the deity washes off our sins. The first pradakshina destroys the sins committed by the mind; the second one destroys sins committed in speech while the third destroys sins perpetrated by the body. Accordingly, the number of pradakshinas is different for different deities like one for Ganesha, two for Surya (Sun), three for Shiva, four for Devi and Vishnu and so on. As per the Swayambhooaagama, a number of twenty-one pradakshinas in a day is considered to be the most beneficial. Moreover, pradakshina should always be done with folded hands and visualizing the deity at all times as this helps the devotee to ward off the ego from his mind while following the fundamental principles of Dharma.