Aarti comes from Sanskrit aratrika, “something that removes darkness.” In the Hindu religion, earth, air, water, fire, and space (represented by a flower, peacock fan, water, deeva, and yak tail fan) are offered to a deity in a plate which is circled around the image of the deity. Songs are sung and the “power” of the deity is transferred to the plate, then the blessing is passed to the worshippers when they place their hands over the deeva and then over their heads. I saw this when I went to a Hindu mandar in Toronto last year. Guru Nanak Dev Ji observed this ritual when he stopped at Jaggannath Puri with Mardana. In Sikhi we do not do idol worship in this manner, and Guru Ji instead composed the shabads below which are now sung in the Sikh aarti. Guru Ji emphasized that instead of idol worship and physical offerings, that the entire creation is an offering to God and is naturally occurring.
“Wherever my True Guru goes and sits, that place is beautiful, O Lord King.
The Guru’s Sikhs seek out that place; they take the dust and apply it to their faces.
The works of the Guru’s Sikhs, who meditate on the Lord’s Name, are approved.
Those who worship the True Guru, O Nanak- the Lord causes them to be worshipped in turn.
The Sky is Your platter,
The sun and moon are the 'Deepaks' the lamps (lights),
The Stars in the sky are the pearls,
The 'Dhoop' (Incense) is the fragrance,
That the wind propels,
The whole forest is Your flowers.
O! What a wonderful Aarti, this is!
You, are a destroyer of Fear,
The sound of Your Name, which is so subtle, that It goes unheard,
You have a thousand eyes, forms, feet, noses…And you have none…
I am charmed!
Your Light enlightens all!
It is by the Grace of the Guru that the real Light (Knowledge) Manifests.
What pleases the Almighty is this Aarti (Creation)
I yearn for Your Lotus feet,
Night and day,
Nanak is like the thirsty bird that asks,
For a drop of water,
From You O Lord!
That drop (Grace) will make Nanak find comfort,
In the uttering of Your Name.”
Sri Ravidas Ji, Sri Dhana Ji, Sant Kabeer Ji and Sant Sain Ji composed the rest of the aarti:
“O Lord, Your name is the Aarti, Your name is the Flower, the saffron, and the sandalwood That is offered to You. Your Name is the (Deeya) The Lamp, the oil and the cotton That is lighted in it. With the Light that Your Name gives out, The whole world is brightened. Your Name is the Thread and Your Name is also The Flowers that are strung into that thread. All that I offer to You is Yours. Your Name is the flywhisk, that you use, The (Chant of Your) True Name, We offer to You, All is false except Your Name!
The Aarti is adorned by the lighted lamp And the fragrance of the incense. All is Auspicious. Thou art the Supreme and Pure Light. Thou art the Lord of the Goddess of Wealth. My obeisance to Thee. And to the Lord Rama, Beautiful Govinda, Who is described as Replete Pure Bliss! Sain prays to Thee, Who obliterates all Fear.
Dear Lord! The Greatest of Yogis have not been able to comprehend You, Those who worship the Unmanifest, Fail to realize You. Even though they have persevered in their quest. Your Name resounds unheard (By the worldly) And only He can hear (On who Your Grace descends) Pray to Your satguru! Almighty Lord! Accept the Aarti, with the oil, Lit with the Chant of Your Name, By You, the Lord of the Universe! Kabirdas performs the Aarti of the 'Beyond Description' and the 'Without Form'
O Gopaala, (Accept) your Aarti! You grant the wishes of those who worship You! I ask for my basic sustenance (food, oil, lentils, good quality grains) Which makes me feel fulfilled. I also pray for a good wife, good clothes, good grain, a horse, a cow…”
Finally Guru Gobind Singh Ji writes:
“The Lord is pleased by the penance, prayers, rituals recitation of the Scriptures, Meditation, music, dance of the Celestial Beings, adorned with vermilion, various musical instruments, Ringing of bells and the showering of flowers, and the tune of the Aarti . The cosmic worlds rejoice and chant the Divine Name. I have come to Your door-step O Lord, having left the world behind, Protect me, I am in Your service. Because of the Lord's command, this order (Sikhism) Came into being. The Sikhs are urged to believe that the Granth is the Guru manifest, Whoever is pure in heart, will find the answers within the words of the Guru Granth Sahib. Its words are the Guru, and the Guru is in the Guru Granth's Utterings, And within the words is the nectar (Of knowledge) And the words urge disciples to believe in the Guru!”
Above translation of aarti from https://manpreet159.wordpress.com/sikhism/aarti-english-translation/