Can you please explain the importance of attending mangala-arati?
Spiritually potent time. The period of roughly 1.5-2 hours before sunrise is considered to be of great spiritual significance due to the major prevalence of the mode of goodness during this period and is therefore called brahma-muhurta. Any spiritual activity performed during this time yields more results than when performed at other times.
Right frame of mind. Mangala-arati is the Supreme Lord’s first darshan of the day. Starting our daily activities in such an auspicious manner has no other comparison. The impressions on the heart formed by the beautiful darshan last during the rest of the day and thus help the devotee remember Lord Krishna easily and offer his/ her activities performed during the rest of the day to the Supreme Lord. During mangala-arati, we express sincere prayers of gratitude to the spiritual master by singing Sri Gurvashtakam, thus setting the right mood for the rest of the day.
Lasting benefits for the mind. Our minds are fresh in the morning after taking sufficient rest at night and then bathing and so when we attend mangala-arati, the slate of the mind is clean. When we write krishna-nama and krishna-rupa on this clean slate it stays much longer during the rest of the day. Usually in ISKCON temples, the entire ambience during mangala-arati is faint light and the only bright sight is in the altar where the beautiful forms of the Supreme Lord grant us Their most beautiful and merciful darshan, again creating strong impressions in the heart. The soft and soothing kirtana that is accompanied by vibrant music traps our minds aiding us to absorb ourselves in the holy names for the rest of the day. Thus, attending mangala-arati is definitely an uplifting experience.