Half Saree And Dhoti Ceremony:
This a ritual practiced by many societies in south India. Coming of age generally signifies a boy or a girl is mature enough to understand his responsibility towards family and society.
Dhoti Ceremony is an Indian Hindu ceremony performed when a boy wears a dhoti for the first time. … Dhoti ceremony symbolizes the transition of a young boy’s life into adulthood.
Half saree ceremony in India, Coming of age ceremony is celebrated when a girl reaches 9 or 11.She wears a half saree presented by maternal grandparents in the first part of the ceremony and then a full saree in the last part of the ceremony. This marks her transition into womanhood.
Besides lending color to the hands, mehndi is a very powerful medicinal herb. Weddings are stressful, and often, the stress causes headaches and fevers. As the wedding day approaches, the excitement mixed with nervous anticipation can take its toll on the bride and groom. Application of mehndi can prevent too much stress because it cools the body and keeps the nerves from becoming tense. This is the reason why mehndi is applied on the hands and feet, which house nerve endings in the body.
Mehndi is a very powerful medicinal herb, and its application on hands and feet can prevent stress during weddings. It cools the body and keeps the nerves from becoming tense.
Look at some amazing mehendi pictures HERE.
Bindi / Tikka On Forehead:
The spot between the eyebrows on a forehead is considered a major nerve point in the human body. A tilak is believed to prevent the loss of energy, and retain this to control various levels of concentration. Moreover, the act of applying this ensures that the points on the mid-brow region and Adnya-chakra are pressed, facilitating blood supply to the facial muscles.
Sindoor is prepared by mixing turmeric, lime and the metal mercury. Due to its intrinsic properties, mercury controls blood pressure and activates sexual drive. Thus, sindoor should be applied right upto the pituitary gland where all our feelings are centered.
On the forehead, between the two eyebrows, is a spot that is considered as a major nerve point in human body since ancient times. The Tilak is believed to prevent the loss of “energy”, the red ‘kumkum’ between the eyebrows is said to retain energy in the human body and control the various levels of concentration. While applying kumkum the points on the mid-brow region and Adnya-chakra are automatically pressed. This also facilitates the blood supply to the face muscles.
The tilak or pottu invokes a feeling of sanctity in the wearer and others. It is recognized as a religious mark. Its form and color vary according to ones caste, religious sect or the form of the Lord worshipped.
In earlier times, the four castes (based on varna or colour) Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra applied marks differently. The brahmin applied a white chandan mark signifying purity, as his profession was of a priestly or academic nature. The kshatriya applied a red kumkum mark signifying valour as he belonged to warrior races. The vaishya wore a yellow kesar or turmeric mark signifying prosperity as he was a businessman or trader devoted to creation of wealth. The sudra applied a black bhasma, kasturi or charcoal mark signifying service as he supported the work of the other three divisions.
Also Vishnu worshippers apply a chandan tilak of the shape of “U”, Shiva worshippers a tripundra (of the shape of “º “) of bhasma, Devi worshippers a red dot of kumkum and so on).
The tilak cover the spot between the eyebrows, which is the seat of memory and thinking. It is known as the Aajna Chakra in the language of Yoga. The tilak is applied with the prayer “May I remember the Lord. May this pious feeling pervade all my activities. May I be righteous in my deeds.” Even when we temporarily forget this prayerful attitude the mark on another reminds us of our resolve. The tilak is thus a blessing of the Lord and a protection against wrong tendencies and forces.
The entire body emanates energy in the form of electromagnetic waves the forehead and the subtle spot between the eyebrows especially so. That is why worry generates heat and causes a headache. The tilak and pottu cools the forehead, protects us and prevents energy loss. Sometimes the entire forehead is covered with chandan or bhasma. Using plastic reusable “stick bindis” is not very beneficial, even though it serves the purpose of decoration.
It is interesting to note that that the application of sindoor by married women carries a physiological significance. This is so because Sindoor is prepared by mixing turmeric-lime and the metal mercury. Due to its intrinsic properties, mercury, besides controlling blood pressure also activates sexual drive. This also explains why Sindoor is prohibited for the widows. For best results, Sindoor should be applied right upto the pituitary gland where all our feelings are centered. Mercury is also known for removing stress and strain.
Read more HERE.
Throwing Coins Into A River:
Historically, most currency was made of copper, a vital metal for the human body. Throwing coins in a river was a way to intake sufficient copper as part of water as rivers were the only source of drinking water.
The general reasoning given for this act is that it brings Good Luck. However, scientifically speaking, in the ancient times, most of the currency used was made of copper unlike the stainless steel coins of today. Copper is a vital metal very useful to the human body. Throwing coins in the river was one way our fore-fathers ensured we intake sufficient copper as part of the water as rivers were the only source of drinking water. Making it a custom ensured that all of us follow the practice.
Start With Spice & End With Sweet:
Our ancestors have stressed on the fact that our meals should be started off with something spicy and sweet dishes should be taken towards the end. The significance of this eating practice is that while spicy things activate the digestive juices and acids and ensure that the digestion process goes on smoothly and efficiently, sweets or carbohydrates pulls down the digestive process. Hence, sweets were always recommended to be taken as a last item.
Sitting On The Floor & Eating:
This tradition is not just about sitting on floor and eating, it is regarding sitting in the “Sukhasan” position and then eating. Sukhasan is the position we normally use for Yoga asanas. When you sit on the floor, you usually sit cross legged – In sukhasana or a half padmasana (half lotus), which are poses that instantly bring a sense of calm and help in digestion, it is believed to automatically trigger the signals to your brain to prepare the stomach for digestion.
Not Sleep With Your Head Towards North:
The human body has its own magnetic field, while the Earth is a giant magnet. When you sleep with your head pointing north, your body’s magnetic field becomes asymmetrical to the Earth’s, causing problems related to blood pressure since your heart needs to work harder in order to overcome this.
Myth is that it invites ghost or death but science says that it is because human body has its own magnetic field (Also known as hearts magnetic field, because the flow of blood) and Earth is a giant magnet. When we sleep with head towards north, our body’s magnetic field become completely asymmetrical to the Earth’s Magnetic field. That cause problems related to blood pressure and our heart needs to work harder in order to overcome this asymmetry of Magnetic fields. Apart from this another reason is that Our body have significant amount of iron in our blood. When we sleep in this position, iron from the whole body starts to congregate in brain. This can cause headache, Alzheimer’s Disease, Cognitive Decline, Parkinson disease and brain degeneration.
Worship Peepal Tree:
‘Peepal’ tree is almost useless for an ordinary person, except for its shadow. ‘Peepal’ does not a have a delicious fruit, its wood is not strong enough for any purpose then why should a common villager or person worship it or even care for it? Our ancestors knew that ‘Peepal’ is one of the very few trees (or probably the only tree) which produces oxygen even at night. So in order to save this tree because of its unique property they related it to God/religion.
Not Touch People, Books With Feet:
To Indians, knowledge is sacred and divine. So it must be given respect at all times. Nowadays we separate subjects as sacred and secular. But in ancient India every subject academic or spiritual was considered divine and taught by the guru in the gurukula.
The custom of not stepping on educational tools is a frequent reminder of the high position accorded to knowledge in Indian culture. From an early age, this wisdom fosters in us a deep reverence for books and education. This is also the reason why we worship books, vehicles and instruments once a year on Saraswathi Pooja or Ayudha Pooja day, dedicated to the Goddess of Learning. In fact, each day before starting our studies, we pray:
Varade kaama roopini
Sidhirbhavatu me sadaa
O Goddess Saraswati, the giver of
Boons and fulfiller of wishes,
I prostrate to You before
starting my studies.
May you always fulfill me?
To touch another with the feet is considered an act of misdemeanor. Why is this so?
Man is regarded as the most beautiful, living breathing temple of the Lord! Therefore touching another with the feet is akin to disrespecting the divinity within him or her. This calls for an immediate apology, which is offered with reverence and humility.
Offering Food To God First:
Indians make an offering of food to the Lord and later partake of it as prasaada a holy gift from the Lord. In our daily ritualistic worship (pooja) too we offer naivedyam (food) to the Lord.
The Lord is omnipotent and omniscient. Man is a part, while the Lord is the totality. All that we do is by His strength and knowledge alone. Hence what we receive in life as a result of our actions is really His alone. We acknowledge this through the act of offering food to Him. This is exemplified by the Hindi words “tera tujko arpan” I offer what is Yours to You. Thereafter it is akin to His gift to us, graced by His divine touch.
Knowing this, our entire attitude to food and the act of eating changes. The food offered will naturally be pure and the best. We share what we get with others before consuming it. We do not demand, complain or criticise the quality of the food we get. We eat it with cheerful acceptance (prasaada buddhi).
Before we partake of our daily meals we first sprinkle water around the plate as an act of purification. Five morsels of food are placed on the side of the plate acknowledging the debt owed by us to the Divine forces (devta runa) for their benign grace and protection, our ancestors (pitru runa) for giving us their lineage and a family culture, the sages (rishi runa) as our religion and culture have been “realised”, aintained and handed down to us by them, our fellow beings (manushya runa) who constitute society without the support of which we could not live as we do and other living beings (bhuta runa) for serving us selflessly.
Thereafter the Lord, the life force, who is also within us as the five life-giving physiological functions, is offered the food. This is done with the chant
After offering the food thus, it is eaten as prasaada blessed food.
Choti On The Male Head:
Sushruta described the master sensitive spot on the head as Adhipati Marma. This was considered a centre of wisdom. The knotted plait helps boost this centre and conserve its subtle energy.
Sushrut rishi, the foremost surgeon of Ayurveda, describes the master sensitive spot on the head as Adhipati Marma, where there is a nexus of all nerves. The shikha protects this spot. Below, in the brain, occurs the Brahmarandhra, where the sushumnã (nerve) arrives from the lower part of the body. In Yog, Brahmarandhra is the highest, seventh chakra, with the thousand-petalled lotus. It is the centre of wisdom. The knotted shikhã helps boost this centre and conserve its subtle energy known as ojas.
We cannot draw a circle without a center point. The Lord is the center, source and essence of our lives. Recognizing Him as the focal point in our lives, we go about doing our daily chores. This is the significance of pradakshina.
Also every point on the circumference of a circle is equidistant from the center. This means that wherever or whoever we may be, we are equally close to the Lord. His grace flows towards us without partiality.
Why is pradakshina done only in a clockwise manner?
The reason is not, as a person said, to avoid a traffic jam! As we do pradakshina, the Lord is always on our right. In India the right side symbolizes auspiciousness. So as we circumambulate the sanctum sanctorum we remind ourselves to lead an auspicious life of righteousness, with the Lord who is the indispensable source of help and strength, as our guide the “right hand”.
Indian scriptures enjoin matrudevo bhava, pitrudevo bhava, acharyadevo bhava. May you consider your parents and teachers as you would the Lord. With this in mind we also do pradakshina around our parents and divine personages.
After the completion of traditional worship (pooja), we customarily do pradakshina around ourselves. In this way we recognize and remember the supreme divinity within us, which alone is idolized in the form of the Lord that we worship outside.
INDIA, September 26, 2016 (by Amrita Verma, The Asian Age): Hindu priests in Allahabad and Varanasi demanded a ban on performing the pind daan, a post-death ritual believed to ensure salvation for departed souls, over the Internet. The pind daan is performed mainly during the Pitra Paksh, a 16-day lunar period during which Hindus pay ritual homage to their ancestors.
Pandit Kishore Upadhyaya, a priest from Varanasi, said that the growing trend of offering online pind daan was “unethical” and should be banned. “The ritual requires the person to be physically present and make offerings to the departed souls. It is an elaborate ritual and cannot be performed in absentia,” he said.
According to him, a large number of websites now offer “online tarpan” for a price. These websites are doing big business, but the people are being duped, he said. “We understand that working people are short on time and cannot travel to religious places like Gaya, Allahabad, Varanasi or Haridwar to perform the ritual, but they can opt for the ritual in their own cities. In fact, some religious organisations even arrange for collective pind daan for those who cannot afford to travel,” he said.
Another Varanasi priest, Pandit Shiv Misra, said that the idea of online pind daan was “ridiculous,” and should be stopped. “This is almost like asking someone else to eat or sleep for you. How can anyone else pray for me? The websites that are offering the ‘services’ take money and then claim to have performed the rituals for your ancestors,” he said.
The priests have decided to take up the matter in the annual Magh Mela that is held in Allahabad in January and ask the Dharam Sansad to convince the government to ban the virtual pind daan services. “We have come to know that a website that offers virtual ‘pind daan’ in Varanasi, is receiving 200-250 requests every day which means a large number of people are being fleeced,” said Pandit Shiv Misra.
What Is Prayer?
Prayer is not begging. Prayer is an invocation. Through cheerful prayer we learn to rise above our lower impulses and invoke the noble and divine impulses that are essentially in all of us. Always, at all times, in all conditions, in all places, with all our hearts, in perfect devotion, let the Lord be worshipped quietly, sincerely, and with a composed mind by those who have given up all worries and anxieties.
With all your heart, go in full surrender unto Him. Invoke Him, but remember there are four conditions to be scrupulously practiced in seeking Lord..1) at all times 2) in all conditions 3) in calmness & serenity 4) as the sole source of your seeking.
Prayer or invocation should be from all the levels of our personalities. At the physical, mental and intellectual levels, we must be able to put forth all the best in us at all times in the service of all around us, as an offering unto Him. Let our actions sing His glory. Let our feelings waft the fragrance of His eternal divine will. Let our thoughts gurgle out, expressing His dynamism and divine will. Let our lives be in devotional songs, sung in praise of Him who is ever in our hearts.Such a total God-centered life itself is a true hymn in praise of the Lord.
Now close your eyes, relax your muscles, smile in joyous abandon in your mind, listen and in true Prayer contemplate these words –
asangOham asangOham asangOham punah punah
sacchidanandaroopOham ahamevaahamavyayah II
Unattached am I with my body., Unattached am I with my mind. Unattached am I with my intellect again and again. I am the nature of Pure Consciousness, the Awareness Divine.
Cats Crossing Your Path:
In ancient times, during night people used to travel through forests in bullock carts with a light of kerosene lantern. The carriage animals get past big cats like leopards, hyenas and jackals foxes. These animals have glowing eyes and scare the cows, horses or the bulls that pull the carts. That is why the travelling party halts nearby and help the animals refresh themselves before they pull the carts for the long journey ahead without any stress.
Travelers shared their hard experiences and told other travelers not to proceed travel while the cats crossing the roads and in the course of time changing, the cat crossings got live and the people forget forest cats and took the domestic cats instead.
Hair Cut On Tuesday:
In past days a large portion of the Indians were farmers. After a week of hard work, Monday was their resting day. Characteristically majority of them cleaned their homes and cut their hair on that day. So the Barber wouldn’t have much deal with Tuesdays and would close his shop. This practice is continued till date but the reason behind it is completely forgotten and lot misconceptions revolve around this.
Hanging Lemon And 7 Green Chilies In Shops And Business Places:
Superstitious belief goes like this: Alakshmi, god of misfortune brings bad luck to the shop owners or business. In order not to allow her entering the shops they hang these 7 chilies and lemon. Alakshmi likes sour, pungent and hot things. Therefore at the door, Alakshmi will only come up to the door and eat her favorite food and satisfy her hunger and leave without entering the shop. It is believed that after consuming lemon and green chillies, Alakshmi loses her urge to enter the house or shop. She will turn around without casting her vicious eye.
Scientific Reason: The cotton thread which is used to pierce the chillies and lemon absorbs the acid from the fruit whilst it is fresh. This smell keeps the pests and insects away from the shops. This is a simple pesticide which came into practice from ancient times, which is mislead now superstitiously as explained above.
Breaking Mirror Brings 7 Years Bad Luck:
During old times, mirrors were not cheap and they were low quality and easily defected. In order to avoid negligence, it was told that breaking a mirror brings seven years of bad luck. That was simple scare tactic. Romans were the one who tagged to the broken mirror a sign of seven years bad luck. The length of the prescribed misfortune came from the ancient Roman belief that it took seven years for life to renew itself.
If the person looking into the mirror were not of good health, their image would break the mirror and the run of bad luck would continue for the period of seven years, at the end of which their life would be renewed, their body would be physically rejuvenated, and the curse would be ended.
Cutting Nails And Shaving After Sunset:
In the olden days there was no electricity and shaving or cutting nails would result in cuts after sunset because of darkness. Hence our ancestors advised not to cut nails or shave after sunset. In Later days it was believed that the night spirits will be awaken and come in the search of flesh. People have been warned to get attacked by these evil spirits in the darkness of night if people cut nails or shave hair after sunset which continues as a superstition.
Menstruating Women Are Considered Impure And Unclean:
In India, menstruating women are considered impure and unclean. This, of course, gives rise to many superstitious beliefs. Women who are menstruating are not allowed to enter the kitchen. They are also supposed to stay away from temples, mosques and all religious spots in the house itself. A woman on her period is not allowed to perform regular household duties like cooking food.
Some might argue that the reason behind this superstition is scientific, and that a woman menstruating loses a lot of blood and thus becomes weak and must refrain from strenuous activities. Others claim that there is nothing scientific in this belief and it is just another superstition created to subordinate the position of women in society
Lizard Falling On Human Is Bad Luck:
Every movement of the wall lizard holds some significance according to Gowli Shastra in India. The colour, spots, stripes, chirping or twittering of the lizard and where it falls on a person’s body are said to indicate future happenings. However the fact is that, lizards that are poisonous in nature release poisonous chemicals from their body in order to protect them from their enemies. If such lizard comes in contact of a person’s body or falls in a food item like milk etc. then is bound to make it contaminated. One should wash that particular spot and area to avoid infectious disease.
Friday The 13th And The Number 13 Is Unlucky:
The number 13 is considered an unlucky number in some countries. The superstitious sufferers try to avoid bad luck by keeping away from anything numbered or labelled thirteen. As a result, companies and manufacturers use another way of numbering or labelling to avoid the number, with hotels and tall buildings being conspicuous examples (thirteenth floor). It is also considered unlucky to have thirteen guests at a table. Friday the 13th has been considered the unluckiest day of the month.
One major reason is that, at Jesus Christ’s last supper, there were thirteen people around the table, counting Christ and the twelve apostles. Some believe this unlucky because one of those thirteen, Judas Iscariot, was the betrayer of Jesus Christ. Another major reason for Friday the 13, On Friday 13 October 1307, King Philip IV of France ordered the arrest of the Knights Templar, and most of the knights were tortured and killed.
Twitching Of The Eye Is Inauspicious:
Twitching of the left eye is considered to be either a bad or a good omen, depending upon which culture we are referring to. These superstitions take into account the gender and the part of the eye in which the twitching is observed as well. Eye twitching or the sudden involuntary movement or spasms in the eyelids is a common condition.
Although there is an established explanation for these constant or intermittent involuntary muscle twitches, including various medical reasons behind them. Apparently, these twitches are nature’s way of warning a person about some impending problem or indicative of some good news on the way.
Adding One Rupee To A Gift Sum Is Auspicious:
It is common in India to give money for weddings and auspicious occasions. It is considered auspicious to add a rupee to the sum total.
There are various reasons, for some, it is a blessing, a token of love and luck. For some it is the beginning of a new cycle. For some it makes the sum an odd number and indivisible which is a good omen for the married couple. If the rupee is not added the sum total will be separable or it will end in zero which indicates the end, so adding the rupee will make the number odd hence assuring continuity.
Walking Under A Ladder Is Bad Luck:
There are a couple of theories about this superstitious belief. Many Christians are believers in the Trinity—that God is made up of three parts, the Holy Father, the Holy Son, and the Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit). A ladder leaning up against a building was seen as a triangle of these three. To walk through this triangle was seen as breaking the Trinity and hence considered as bad luck.
Another origin of the superstition was a bit less specific, and had to do with the similarities between a ladder leaning against a wall and a gallows. However the fact is that, it is simply unsafe to walk under the ladder and you may get hurt or might hurt someone around by knocking the ladder down.
Crows Are Referred As Our Ancestors:
Crow is the vahana of shani who represents the karmas of past. We are indebted to our ancestors who have given us birth. So offering food to crow is regards as pacifying the hunger of ancestors where ever and whichever form they are reborn. It is believed that crows are being related to our ancestors since the ‘treta yuga’.
As per this popular legend, once Jayant the Son of God Indra, disguised in the form of crow and hurt Sita. In turn God Rama took hay and used it as an arrow and parted one of the eyes of Jayant. After realizing his mistake, Jayant asked for God Rama’s forgiveness. Then Rama forgave him and blessed him with a boon that when food is offered to the crows that will reach the ancestors.
Do Not Sweep The House After Sunset:
This is another common myth in India. If you sweep your house after sunset Lakshmi will walk out of the house and hence inviting poverty.
But the real reason behind this is back in the days when there was no electricity, light of lamp was not enough to spot any small gold ornaments while sweeping and hence chances of sweeping them away with the dust is high. Hence it was not advised to sweep after dark.
Why We Pierce Ear:
Piercing the ears has a great importance in Indian ethos. Indian physicians and philosophers believe that piercing the ears helps in the development of intellect, power of thinking and decision making faculties. Talkativeness fritters away life energy. Ear piercing helps in speech-restraint. It helps to reduce impertinent behavior and the ear-channels become free from disorders. This idea appeals to the Western world as well, and so they are getting their ears pierced to wear fancy earrings as a mark of fashion.
Wearing toe rings is not just the significance of married women but there is science behind it. Normally toe rings are worn on the second toe. A particular nerve from the second toe connects the uterus and passes to heart. Wearing toe ring on this finger strengthens the uterus. It will keep it healthy by regulating the blood flow to it and menstrual cycle will be regularized. As Silver is a good conductor, it also absorbs polar energies from the earth and passes it to the body.
Indian women normally wear toe rings on the second toe. A particular nerve from this connects the uterus and passes to heart. Thus, a toe ring on this toe strengthens the uterus, keeping it healthy by regulating the blood flow to it. Moreover, a woman’s menstrual cycle is said to be regularized.
When you touch the feet of the elderly, their hearts emit positive thoughts and energy, which they transmit through their hands and toes. In essence, the completed circuit enables flow of energy and increases cosmic energy, switching on a quick connect between two minds and hearts. Your fingers and palms become the ‘receptor’ of energy and the feet of the other person become the ‘giver’ of energy.
Usually, the person of whose feet you are touching is either old or pious. When they accept your respect which came from your reduced ego (and is called your shraddha) their hearts emit positive thoughts and energy (which is called their karuna) which reaches you through their hands and toes. In essence, the completed circuit enables flow of energy and increases cosmic energy, switching on a quick connect between two minds and hearts. To an extent, the same is achieved through handshakes and hugs. The nerves that start from our brain spread across all your body. These nerves or wires end in the fingertips of your hand and feet. When you join the fingertips of your hand to those of their opposite feet, a circuit is immediately formed and the energies of two bodies are connected. Your fingers and palms become the ‘receptor’ of energy and the feet of other person become the ‘giver’ of energy.
Prostrate Before Parents And Elders:
Indians prostrate before their parents, elders, teachers and noble souls by touching their feet. The elder in turn blesses us by placing his or her hand on or over our heads. Prostration is done daily, when we meet elders and particularly on important occasions like the beginning of a new task, birthdays, festivals etc. In certain traditional circles, prostration is accompanied by abhivaadana, which serves to introduce one-self, announce ones family and social stature.
Man stands on his feet. Touching the feet in prostration is a sign of respect for the age, maturity, nobility and divinity that our elders personify. It symbolizes our recognition of their selfless love for us and the sacrifices they have done for our welfare. It is a way of humbly acknowledging the greatness of another. This tradition reflects the strong family ties, which has been one of Indias enduring strengths.
The good wishes (Sankalpa) and blessings (aashirvaada) of elders are highly valued in India. We prostrate to seek them. Good thoughts create positive vibrations. Good wishes springing from a heart full of love, divinity and nobility have a tremendous strength. When we prostrate with humility and respect, we invoke the good wishes and blessings of elders which flow in the form of positive energy to envelop us. This is why the posture assumed whether it is in the standing or prone position, enables the entire body to receive the energy thus received.
The different forms of showing respect are :
Pratuthana rising to welcome a person.
Namaskaara paying homage in the form of namaste (discussed separately in this book).
Upasangrahan touching the feet of elders or teachers.
Shaashtaanga prostrating fully with the feet, knees, stomach, chest, forehead and arms touching the ground in front of the elder.
Pratyabivaadana returning a greeting.
Rules are prescribed in our scriptures as to who should prostrate to whom. Wealth, family name, age, moral strength and spiritual knowledge in ascending order of importance qualified men to receive respect. This is why a king though the ruler of the land, would prostrate before a spiritual master. Epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata have many stories highlighting this aspect.
Worshiping Trees And Plants:
The Lord, the life in us, pervades all living beings, be they plants or animals. Hence, they are all regarded as sacred. Human life on earth depends on plants and trees. They give us the vital factors that make life possible on earth: food, oxygen, clothing, shelter, medicines etc.
Hence, in India, we are taught to regard trees and plants as sacred. Indians scriptures tell us to plant ten trees if, for any reason, we have to cut one. We are advised to use parts of trees and plants only as much as is needed for food, fuel, shelter etc. we are also urged to apologies to a plant or tree before cutting it to avoid incurring a specific sin named soona
Certain trees and plants like tulasi, peepal etc., which have tremendous beneficial qualities, are worshipped till today. It is believed that divine beings manifest as trees and plants, and many people worship them to fulfill their desires or to please the Lord.
First of all what is a kalasha? A brass, mud or copper pot is filled with water. Mango leaves are placed in the mouth of the pot and a coconut is placed over it. A red or white thread is tied around its neck or sometimes all around it in a intricate diamond-shaped pattern. The pot may be decorated wit designs. Such a pot is known as a kalasha.
When the pot is filled with water or rice, it is known as purnakumbha representing the inert body which when filled with the divine life force gains the power to do all the wonderful things that makes life what it is.
A kalasha is placed with due rituals on all-important occasions like the traditional house warming (grihapravesa), wedding, daily worship etc. It is placed near the entrance as a sign of welcome. It is also used in a traditional manner while receiving holy personages. Why do we worship the kalasha? Before the creation came into being, Lord Vishnu was reclining on His snake-bed in the milky ocean. From His navel emerged a lotus from which appeared Lord Brahma, the creator, who thereafter created this world.
The water in the kalasha symbolizes the primordial water from which the entire creation emerged. It is the giver of life to all and has the potential of creating innumerable names and forms, the inert objects and the sentient beings and all that is auspicious in the world from the energy behind the universe. The leaves and coconut represent creation.
The thread represents the love that “binds” all in creation. The kalasha is therefore considered auspicious and worshipped. The waters from all the holy rivers, the knowledge of all the Vedas and the blessings of all the deities are invoked in the kalasha and its water is thereafter used for all the rituals, including the abhisheka.
The consecration (kumbhaabhisheka) of a temple is done in a grand manner with elaborate rituals including the pouring of one or more kalashas of holy water on the top of the temple. When the asuras and devas churned the milky ocean, the Lord appeared bearing the pot of nectar, which blessed one with everlasting life.
Thus the kalasha also symbolizes immortality. Men of wisdom are full and complete as they identify with the infinite Truth (poornatvam). They brim with joy and love and respect all that is auspicious. We greet them with a purnakumbha (“full pot”) acknowledging their greatness and as a sign of respectful and reverential welcome, with a “full heart”.
Hindus have a tradition of paying their respects to the Sun God early in the morning through the Surya Namaskar. Waking up to follow this routine ensures we are prone to a morning lifestyle.
Hindus have a tradition of paying regards to Sun God early in the morning by their water offering ritual. It was mainly because looking at Sun rays through water or directly at that time of the day is good for eyes and also by waking up to follow this routine, we become prone to a morning lifestyle and mornings are proven to be the most effective part of the day.
Ring The Temple Bell:
People who are visiting the temple should and will Ring the bell before entering the inner sanctum (Garbhagudi or Garbha Gruha or womb-chamber) where the main idol is placed. According to Agama Sastra, the bell is used to give sound for keeping evil forces away and the ring of the bell is pleasant to God. However, the scientific reason behind bells is that their ring clears our mind and helps us stay sharp and keep our full concentration on devotional purpose. These bells are made in such a way that when they produce a sound it creates a unity in the Left and Right parts of our brains. The moment we ring the bell, it produces a sharp and enduring sound which lasts for minimum of 7 seconds in echo mode. The duration of echo is good enough to activate all the seven healing centres in our body. This results in emptying our brain from all negative thoughts.
People ring the temple bell on entering as the sound of it is said to clear our mind and help us stay sharp, keeping our full concentration on devotion. Moreover, these bells are made in such a way that the sound they produce creates unity in the left and right parts of our brains. The duration of the bell echo is ideal to activate all the seven healing centres in our body, clearing us of negativity.
Is it to wake up the Lord? But the Lord never sleeps. Is it to let the Lord know we have come? He does not need to be told, as He is all knowing. Is it a form of seeking permission to enter His precinct? It is a homecoming and therefore entry needs no permission. The Lord welcomes us at all times. Then why do we ring the bell?
The ringing of the bell produces what is regarded as an auspicious sound. It produces the sound Om, the universal name of the Lord. There should be auspiciousness within and without, to gain the vision of the Lord who is all-auspiciousness.
Even while doing the ritualistic aarati, we ring the bell. It is sometimes accompanied by the auspicious sounds of the conch and other musical instruments. An added significance of ringing the bell, conch and other instruments is that they help drowned any inauspicious or irrelevant noises and comments that might disturb or distract the worshippers in their devotional ardour, concentration and inner peace.
As we start the daily ritualistic worship (pooja) we ring the bell, chanting:
Kurve ghantaaravam tatra
I ring this bell indicating
the invocation of divinity,
So that virtuous and noble forces
enter (my home and heart);
and the demonic and evil forces
from within and without, depart.
Hindu religion has bestowed ‘Tulsi’, with the status of mother. Also known as ‘Sacred or Holy Basil’, Tulsi, has been recognized as a religious and spiritual devout in many parts of the world. The vedic sages knew the benefits of Tulsi and that is why they personified it as a Goddess and gave a clear message to the entire community that it needs to be taken care of by the people, literate or illiterate. We try to protect it because it is like Sanjeevani for the mankind. Tulsi has great medicinal properties.
It is a remarkable antibiotic. Taking Tulsi everyday in tea or otherwise increases immunity and help the drinker prevent diseases, stabilize his or her health condition, balance his or her body system and most important of all, prolong his or her life. Keeping Tulsi plant at home prevents insects and mosquitoes from entering the house. It is said that snakes do not dare to go near a Tulsi plant. Maybe that is why ancient people would grow lots of Tulsi near their houses.
In Sanskrit, tulanaa naasti athaiva tulasi – that which is incomparable (in its qualities) is the tulasi.
For Indians it is one of the most sacred plants. In fact it is known to be the only thing used in worship, which, once used, can be washed and reused in pooja – as it is regarded so self-purifying.
As one story goes, Tulasi was the devoted wife of Shankhachuda, a celestial being. She believed that Lord Krishna tricked her into sinning. So she cursed Him to become a stone (shaaligraama). Seeing her devotion and adhered to righteousness, the Lord blessed her saying that she would become the worshipped plant, tulasi that would adorn His head.
Also that all offerings would be incomplete without the tulasi leaf – hence the worship of tulasi.
She also symbolizes Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu. Those who wish to be righteous and have a happy family life worship the tulasi. Tulasi is married to the Lord with all pomp and show as in any wedding.
This is because according to another legend, the Lord blessed her to be His consort. Satyabhama once weighed Lord Krishna against all her legendary wealth. The scales did not balance till a single tulasi leaf was placed along with the wealth on the scale by Rukmini with devotion.
Thus the tulasi played the vital role of demonstrating to the world that even a small object offered with devotion means more to the Lord than all the wealth in the world. The tulasi leaf has great medicinal value and is used to cure various ailments, including the common cold.
Tulasi taam namaamyaham
I bow down to the tulasi, At whose base are all the holy places, At whose top reside all the deities and In whose middle are all the Vedas.
When the conch is blown, the primordial sound of Om emanates. Om is an auspicious sound that was chanted by the Lord before creating the world. It represents the world and the Truth behind it.
As the story goes, the demon Shankhaasura defeated devas, the Vedas and went to the bottom of the ocean. The devas appealed to Lord Vishnu for help. He incarnated as Matsya Avataara – the “fish incarnation” and killed Shankhaasura. The Lord blew the conch-shaped bone of his ear and head. The Om sound emanated, from which emerged the Vedas.
All knowledge enshrined in the Vedas is an elaboration of Om. The conch therefore is known as shankha after Shankaasua. The conch blown by the Lord is called Paanchajanya. He carries it at all times in one of His four hands.
It represents dharma or righteousness that is one of the four goals (purushaarthas) of life. The sound of the conch is thus also the victory call of good over evil.
Another well-known purpose of blowing the conch and the instruments, known traditionally to produce auspicious sounds is to drown or mask negative comments or noises that may disturb or upset the atmosphere or the minds of worshippers.
Ancient India lived in her villages. Each village was presided over by a primary temple and several small ones. During the aarati performed after all-important poojas and on sacred occasions, the conch used to be blown. Since villages were generally small, the sound of the conch would be heard all over the village. People who could not make it to the temple were reminded to stop whatever they were doing, at least for a few seconds, and mentally bow to the Lord. The conch sound served to briefly elevate people’s minds to a prayerful attitude even in the middle of their busy daily routine.
The conch is placed at the altar in temples and homes next to the Lord as a symbol of Naada Brahma (Truth), the Vedas, Om, dharma, victory and auspiciousness. It is often used to offer devotees thirtha (sanctified water) to raise their minds to the highest Truth. It is worshipped with the following verse.
Twam puraa saagarot pannaha
Devaischa poojitha sarvahi
Panchjanya namostu te
Salutations to Panchajanya
the conch born of the ocean
Held in the hand of Lord Vishnu
and worshipped by all devaas
In India one of the most common offerings in a temple is a coconut. It is also offered on occasions like weddings, festivals, the use of a new vehicle, bridge, house etc. It is offered in the sacrificial fire whilst performing homa. The coconut is broken and placed before the Lord. It is later distributed as prasaada.
The fibre covering of the dried coconut is removed except for a tuft on the top. The marks on the coconut make it look like the head of a human being. The coconut is broken, symbolising the breaking of the ego. The juice within, representing the inner tendencies (vaasanas) is offered along with the white kernel – the mind, to the Lord.
A mind thus purified by the touch of the Lord is used as prasaada ( a holy gift). In the traditional abhishekha ritual done in all temples and many homes, several materials are poured over the deity like milk, curd, honey, tender coconut water, sandal paste, holy ash etc. Each material has a specific significance of bestowing certain benefits on worshippers. Tender coconut water is used in abhisheka rituals since it is believed to bestow spiritual growth on the seeker.
The coconut also symbolises selfless service. Every part of the tree -the trunk, leaves, fruit, coir etc. Is used in innumerable ways like thatches, mats, tasty dishes, oil, soap etc. It takes in even salty water from the earth and converts it into sweet nutritive water that is especially beneficial to sick people. It is used in the preparation of many ayurvedic medicines and in other alternative medicinal systems.
The marks on the coconut are even thought to represent the three-eyed Lord Shiva and therefore it is considered to be a means to fulfill our desires.
Hinduism propagates idol worship more than any other religion. Researchers say that this was initiated for the purpose of increasing concentration during prayers. According to psychiatrists, a man will shape his thoughts as per what he sees. If you have 3 different objects in front of you, your thinking will change according to the object you are viewing. Similarly, in ancient India, idol worship was established so that when people view idols it is easy for them to concentrate to gain spiritual energy and meditate without mental diversion.
Hinduism propagates idol worship more than any other religion. This was initiated for the purpose of increasing concentration during prayers. According to psychiatrists, a man will shape his thoughts as per what he sees.
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About Sanatana Dharma
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