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New Delhi, October 9, 2017 : Devout Hindus have a god for every occasion and every day – over 33 million, according to popular beliefs. While people of other religions often interpret them as fictional characters, the multiple gods and goddesses of Hinduism are held with utmost devotion and sincerity by the believers.
Ours is a polytheistic religion – in other words, a myriad of gods and goddesses of Hinduism. Foremost among the several gods and goddesses of Hinduism are the Trimurti; Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, the holy triad that signify supreme divinity in Hinduism – the creator, sustainer and destroyer of the world. These divine forces are known to appear in different avatars, embodied by different gods and goddesses.
In Hinduism, Lord Brahma is the creator of the Universe and the first member of the holy trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh). However, he is not worshiped as Vishnu or Shiva with only one temple dedicated to him, the Pushkar temple of Rajasthan.
Here are some of the many gods and goddesses of Hinduism.
Vishnu is the second member of the holy Hindu triad, who sustains the entire world – Vishnu is believed to return to the earth during distressed times to restore the balance between good and evil.
Believed to have incarnated nine times, Vishnu symbolizes the principles of order, righteousness, and truth. His associate is Lakshmi, the goddess of family life and prosperity.
Vishnu is always depicted with a blue-colored human body with four hands, each of which carries four different objects – a conch, chakra, lotus flower and mace. The god is shown to ride the Garuda, an eagle.
So far, Vishnu has appeared on earth in various incarnations. These include fish, turtle, boar, Narsimha (half lion, half man), Vamana (dwarf sage with the ability to grow), Parsuram, Ram, Krishna and Buddha. Devotees believe he will re-incarnate in a last avatar, popularly known as ‘Kalki’, close to the end of this world.
Hindus who worship Vishnu are primarily known as Vaishnava and regard him as the greatest god.
One of the members of the holy Hindu trinity, Lord Shiva is as the god of destruction, so that the world may be recreated by Brahma. Thus, his destructive powers are perceived as regenerative: necessary to make renewal possible.
Known by different names like Mahadeva, Nataraja , Pashupati, Vishwanath and Bhole Nath, Shiva is known to have untamed enthusiasm, which drives him to extremes in conduct. It is his relationship with wife Parvati which established the balance. While other gods and goddesses are represented in glorious avatars, Shiva is dressed in plan animal skin and usually sits in a yogic aasana.
Shiva is often addressed as the Lord of Dance, with the rhythm of the dance believed to be symbolic of the balance in the universe, masterfully held by Shiva. His most significant dance form is the Tandav.
Hindus who worship Shiva as their primary god are known as Shaivites.
One of the most popular goddesses of Hindu mythology, Lakshmi gets hers name from the Sanskrit word ‘lakshya’, meaning ambition or purpose. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, prosperity and purity and is the associate of Vishnu.
Lakshmi is believed to reside in places of hard work, and sincerity, However, the goddess leaves whenever an individual is overcome with greed or malice or when these qualities are not evident anymore. Hindus believe Sita is an incarnation of Lakshmi. Hence, they worship the goddess of prosperity primarily during Diwali, which commemorated the Hindu epic Ramayana.
Lakshmi is widely represented as an enchanting woman with four arms, settled or standing on a lotus flower.
Devout Hindus worship Lakshmi at temples and inside homes alike, and believe worshipping her with utmost sincerity blesses an individual with success and fortune.
The pot bellied, elephant-headed god Ganesha, also known as Ganpati, Vinayak and Binayak, is the son of Shiva and Parvati. one of the most popular gods and goddesses of Hinduism, Ganesha is revered as the remover of all obstacles, which is why his presence is first acknowledged before beginning any new work.
The lord of success and wealth, Ganesha is also the patron of knowledge and learning; devotees believe he wrote down parts of the Hindu epic Mahabharata with his broken tusk.
Ganesha is typically depicted as a pot-bellied, elephant-headed red colored god, with four arms and a broken tusk. This head is believed to characterize the atma or the soul and the body represents the maya or mankind’s earthly existence. The rats, which can gnaw their way through every hardship, are believed to symbolize Ganesha’s ability to destroy all obstacles.
Lord Ganesha is shown riding mouse, which can gnaw their way through every hardship, are believed to symbolize Ganesha’s ability to destroy all obstacles.
Believed to be the most popular and the most powerful avatar of Vishnu, Krishna is revered as the Supreme Being or the Purana Purushottam out of a list of several hundred gods and goddesses of Hinduism, by several devout Hindus. One of the most loved and mischievous gods, Krishna means ‘black’ and can be believed to denote mysteriousness.
In Hinduism, Krishna takes several different roles- that of a hero, leader, protector, philosopher, teacher and a friend and is believed to have lived on earth between 3200 – 3100 BC. His birth is widely celebrated on the midnight of Ashtami during the month of Shravan, and is called Janmashthami.
Stories of Krishna’s birth, childhood and youth and widely read and circulated, with every mother wanting to have a child like him. His raas with Radha is also remembered widely.
Krishna is held with utmost reverence for his role as the charioteer of Arjuna, as explained in the Mahabharata. It was in the middle of this war that Krishna delivered his famous advice about ‘Nishkam Karma’ which propagated action without attachment, which formed the basis of the Bhagwat Gita.
Krishna is extremely fond of white butter and there are several stories about how he stole butter from gopis throughout his childhood. He is depicted as a dark and extremely handsome, usually depicted with a flute which he used for its seductive powers.
Maryada Purushottam Ram is the ideal avatar of Vishnu. An epitome of chivalry, virtues and ethical demeanor, Ram is the seventh incarnation of Vishnu who is believed to have taken birth to eradicate all evils from the world.
Unlike all other gods and goddesses of Hinduism, Ram is believed to be a historical character, instead of an imaginary figure. The Hindu epic Ramayana is a retelling and celebration of Ram’s life – a tale of his fourteen years in exile with his wife and brother.
Ram’s birthday is celebrated as Ramnavmi, wherein devotees invoke him with religious chants to attain his blessings shield. The festival of lights, Diwali, which is one of the major festivals in Hinduism, is also observed to celebrate the return of Ram, Laksham and Sita back to Ayodhya after an exile of fourteen years.
Ram bears a dark complexion to show his resemblance to Vishnu and his other avatar Krishna, and is almost always depicted with a bow and arrow in his hands and a quiver on his back. Ram also wears a tilak on his forehead. Accompanying the statues of Ram are idols of his wife Sita, brother Lakshman and the celebrated monkey-god Hanuman, who together combine the Ram Darbar.
Daughter of Shiva and Durga, and the consort of Brahma, Saraswati is revered as the goddess of wisdom, learning, speech and music. She is the goddess of knowledge and arts. Devotees often worship the deity before commencing any educational work- books and stationary items are often revered as Saraswati is believed to reside in them.
Saraswati Vandana, religious chants dedicated to the goddess of music often begin and end all Vedic lessons. The goddess also plays songs of wisdom, affection and life on the veena, a string instrument.
Saraswati is visually represented in pure white attire and rides a peacock, with a lotus in one hand and sacred scriptures in the other. She also has four hands that signify the four aspects of learning- mind, intellect, alertness, and ego.
Out of all the 33 million gods and goddesses of Hinduism, devout Hindus believe only Saraswati can grant them moksha- the ultimate emancipation of the soul.
During the festive season, kitchens are filled with people trying to find a space for them to work, while they contribute to the eventual feast. In India, festivals are one of the most important things that bind families and friends together over food. Diwali is of those festivals that apart from being known for the colors and lights, is known and remembered by the elaborate dishes that each family doles out.
In Karnataka, parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra, and South India in general, making obbattu/ holige/ puran poli is a festive ritual. Known as Holige, more popularly in Kannada, this dish is eaten as a dessert because of its sweetness but can be eaten as a meal in itself because of its nutritious value.
Holige is traditionally a flatbread filled with jaggery, coconut, chickpeas, or channa dal. Sometimes, it has vegetables and fruits. It is popularly made to celebrate Ugadi, the Kannada new year but is also eaten during Diwali. Making Holige involves multiple steps and be incredibly fun to do when done together as a family.
The ingredients laid out to begin cooking holige Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Making Holige is very similar to making parathas. A sweet filling consists of smashed dal or chickpeas seasoned with spices like cardamom, which is rolled out. a maida-based dough which will make the outer covering is rolled into a thin circle. After cooking the dal with jaggery, it is placed in the centre of the dough and cooked until it resembles a paratha. The marbling on the dough with a characteristic yellow background is the typical Holige. Ghee is smeared at every stage and at every turn of the Holige on the pan to ensure that it holds its shape.
Holige is made only one at a time and eaten immediately off the stove as it tends to exude a lot of moisture. This comes from the melted jaggery and ghee. Holige makes for an extremely delicious dessert and is perhaps one of the most awaited festive specialties. Depending on the state it is made in, it is served with varying accompaniments.
Keywords: Holige, Diwali festival, Dessert, Obbattu, Karnataka, the festive season, Kannada new year
Kerala Kalamandalam that teaches the globally recognized art form of Kerala -- Kathakali, has for the first time in its history of 90 years, admitted girl students.
In class VII of Kalamadalam, out of 10 students admitted, 9 are girl students for its Kathakali course. Kathakali is a highly masculine art form with even the female characters being portrayed by men. The attempt is being welcomed across the world.
However several women had started practicing Kathakali in 1970 and 1990 and K.K. Gopalakrishnan, renowned art critic of Kerala in his research book, 'Kathakali Dance - Theatre', said that some women from foreign countries had trained for some short-term courses in Kerala on Kathakali.
Most of these performing women artists were either trained privately by Kathakali masters but this is the first time that Kalamandalam is taking in girl students for its long-term programme.
T.K. Narayanan, Vice-Chancellor, Kerala Kalamandalam told media persons that giving admission to girl students in Kalamadalam was a demand for several quarters since long and that this academic year the governing body has decided to give admission to girl students in a full-time programme at Kalamandalam.
Training at Kalamandalam from school days would expose the students to the teaching and guidance of experts and a diverse pool of teachers of the institute who have huge exposure and deep knowledge of the subject. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Kerala culture, Kathakali, Dance Culture, kathakali Tradition, Kerala Kalamandalam
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said the Delhi government would arrange free-of-cost travel for senior citizens from Delhi to Ayodhya.
"I want every Indian should be fortunate enough to have a 'darshan' (visit) of Ram Lalla. I am a small man but Lord Ram has given me enough and I will use my position to help people to come for darshan here," Kejriwal added after offering prayers at the Ram Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya on Tuesday.
Speaking to the media, he said, "I pray to Lord Ram to help India move ahead in the world and bring prosperity for 130 crore people."
Kejriwal, who visited the Hanuman Garhi temple, said he was fortunate enough to be in Ayodhya and seek blessings from Lord Ram for the welfare of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and the rest of the country.
The Delhi Chief Minister had arrived at the temple town on Monday and attended the 'Sarayu aarti' where he interacted with saints and seers. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Ayodhya, Ayodhya Ram Mandir, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Ram Mandir for senior citizens, Ram Janmabhoomi temple.