Continuing from the previous post on symbols 🙂
Apart from various items used as symbols, certain symbolic acts are also performed as part of the prayers.
Even though present day India, and the world for that matter, treats women abominably, the ancients had different ideas. According to Hindu tenets, the woman of the house, especially the married woman, has a certain elevated status. She is considered to be the ‘Grihalakshmi’ : ‘Griha’ meaning home and ‘Lakshmi’ meaning the goddess of wealth (Vishnu’s wife). The idea is a happy woman brings health, wealth and good blessings to her family. Basically on her lies the onus of all things good. A new house is usually inaugurated with her entering by spilling rice at the door step, again going back to the idea that rice signifies prosperity and the act symbolizes the prayer ‘may prosperity lie at her feet’.
These mini footsteps are symbolic again to indicate that the first steps in the house are those of the goddess of wealth
Next was inaugurating the kitchen of the new house. The kitchen is considered the center of an Indian household and if there is enough food to feed the family and guests, then the household is doing well. So as a prayer to bring in the wealth of food, a pot of milk is boiled over a flame. Traditionally the flame is supposed to be generated from firewood and dried cow dung but that aint happening in today’s age. Milk is also a symbol of prosperity. Fire being another auspicious symbol which is worshiped as a God. More on that later.
Ironic how the idea of ‘good’ revolves around wealth
I find symbols fascinating.. Mainly because they tell you so much about the culture and history of the people..
This plate includes the common ingredients needed for a usual worship ritual of Hindus..and all of them are somehow tied to the social, economic and cultural lives in this part of the world..
I could probably write a 1000 word essay just on turmeric. Its the most commonly used spice, an antiseptic, its a beautifying agent, its grows easily…. Its yellow color provides it importance in traditional rituals since saffron/yellow/orange are all holy colors for Hindus, Buddhists and Jains.
The red mercuric sulphide powder or Vermillion is the ‘bindi’ or the red dot you would see on the foreheads of Indian women mostly and even men. It’s supposed to be a protecting energy to the women and their husbands.
Rice is the pulse of south east asian agricultural economies. Without rice we would be a very different people. Hence its offered to the Gods. A symbol of prosperity and wealth, rice has been used in ancient Greek culture as well as offering to appease the deities.
And flowers of course are a symbol of purity in almost all cultures.
And this was just one plate. We had a ‘pooja’ or a worship ritual done for the new house to bring the home or ‘vaastu’ peace and harmony. Not being a devoutly religious person I was still intrigued by the countless little symbols used throughout the ceremony. I’ll post about them as and when I get a chance because with modernization we are losing all these stories of our heritage.
These are links that tie us to our history and ancestors and if I were given the option of time travel I know I’d choose traveling to the past rather than the future..