Homa rituals remain an important part of many Hindu ceremonies, and variations of homa continue to be practiced in current-day Buddhism, particularly in parts of Tibet and Japan. It is also found in modern Jainism.
A homa is known by alternative names, such as yajna in Hinduism which sometimes means larger public fire rituals, or jajnavidhana or goma in Buddhism. In modern times, a homa tends to be a private ritual around a symbolic fire, such as those observed at a wedding.
The homa ritual grammar is common to many sanskara (riteofpassage) ceremonies in various Hindu traditions. The Vedic fire ritual, at the core of various homa ritual variations in Hinduism, is a “bilaterally symmetrical” structure of a rite. It often combines fire and water, burnt offerings and soma, fire as masculine, earth and water as feminine, the fire vertical and reaching upwards, while the altar, offerings and liquids being horizontal.
The homa ritual’s altar (fire pit) is itself a symmetry, most often a square, a design principle that is also at the heart of temples and mandapas in Indian religions. The sequence of homaritual events similarly, from beginning to end, are structured around the principles of symmetry.
The oblations and offerings typically consist of clarified butter (ghee), milk, curd, sugar, saffron, grains, coconut, perfumed water, incense, seeds, petals and herbs