Why do Hindus Worship Bell?I have already written about Hindus’ worship of Cows (Go Puja), Elephants (Gaja Puja), Snakes (Naga Panchami), Scorpions, Sandals (Paduka Puja), Fossils (Salagrama Puja), Gem Stones(Spatika/crystal), Conches (Shanka Puja) and flowers (Pushpanchali). I have also written that the calling bell was invented by the Hindus in my post ‘’Hindus invented the Calling Bell’’. Now I give some details about Bell Puja! Yes, Hindus worship bells as well. You know the story of Manu Neethi Choza who followed Manu Dharma Shastra during his rule. When the palace bell was rung by the cow which lost its calf under the wheels of his son’s chariot he killed his own son in the same way under the wheels of the palace chariot (for details go to my earlier post).
Bell Worship is called Ghanta Puja (Ghanta is bell in Sanskrit). The sound that comes out of the sacred bell is called Jaya Dwani (Victorious Sound). This sound helps to drive away the demonic forces and brings in the auspicious and positive forces. This has a deeper and inner meaning as well. This will drive away the evil thoughts from us. The bell will ring from inside us giving us positive energy.
When the priest or the performer of puja puts some flowers on the bell and rings it loud he recites a Sanskrit mantra echoing this meaning –‘Agamanartham thu Devanam, Gamanartham thu Rakshasam’. This Ghanta Puja is done in the beginning of Goddess worship and other rituals.
Every Hindu temple has a bell big or small. As soon as the devotee enters he or she rings the bell. During the main Arti all the bells in the temple will be used. This big sound improves one’s concentration. It helps devotees to focus their attention on the finale i.e. the main Arti. Hindus consider bell sound as a good omen. If they hear bell sound while discussing something important, they take it as positive sign or a Big YES.
Hanging a bell in front of the palace so that people can represent their grievances easily, was a great Hindu invention. The Hindu Kings who ruled from Sukothai in Thailand also followed this custom. We read about such bells in the Stories of Vikramaditya and other literature. Nowadays people in distress send SOS messages ( Save Our Souls ) from air planes and ships. In those days they rang a bell.
Ancient Ships also carried such bells. They used to ring it for giving messages. I have written about the Tamil Bell recovered from a ship and kept in New Zealand Museum. London is the Head Quarters for the Ship insurance company Lloyds. They have installed a bell that was recovered from HMS Lutine ship lost in sea in 1799. After that time the Lutine Bell was used by Lloyds to signal the loss of a ship at sea. Every time a ship was lost it was rung. Nowadays it is used for ceremonial occasions. So the custom of ringing a bell during distress has spread to different parts of the world, probably from India. We have proof for this in Tamil and Sanskrit literature.
In Japan, bronze bells date back to 300 AD. They hang it at the entrance of Shinto shrines. In China people believed bells can fly. Christian churches used it to summon worshippers. Larger bells have been used in the monastery from sixth century. Bells were used in exorcism and in the rites of excommunication. Shakespeare knew this and used it in his King John (‘’bell .book and candle’’). Many cultures believed that the bell dispelled the demons.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind --(Lord Alfred Tennyson)