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Vibhuti & Sindur

Vibhuti and Sindur, (or holy ash and kumkum) is found in just about every Hindu household around the world. Men apply what is called a tilak and women apply what is called a bindi. The use of the coloured powder and ash is essential to Hindus and the Indian culture as a whole. They even call the god Shiva as “Digambar”; meaning clad-in-sky or clad in ashes. It is not uncommon to see many priests and monks walking about India covered head-to-toe in ash.

Vibhuti( Holy ash) in a steel cup

Vibhuti is a very fine white ash substance made from burning a specific kind ofwood during Agamic rituals. Vibhuti plays an extremely special role for the followers of Shiva, unlike the other sects which use primarily kumkum or sandalwood paste. Devotees of Shiva will either have three horizontal lines drawn on their foreheads or they will be covered entirely in ash. The vibhuti is also used during rituals in temples for Shiva.

Sindur, or more commonly called Kumkum, is a red-vermillion shaded powder made from turmeric powder mixed with lime. The acid in the lime causes the orange turmeric powder to turn a rich red when mixed and dried. Sindur plays a much more important role in the lives of women in India as almost all of them will adorn a bindi. Having sindur along the partition of a woman’s hairline indicates that she is married; women who are single simply where a single red dot and the widowed wear no bindi at all.

In temples and many people’s home shrines, vibhuti and sindur are applied to the foreheads and feet of the murtis. Often devotees will touch the sindur covered feet of a murti and then use that sindur to apply a tilak or bindi. The ash & powder are also used in other rituals in which they are liberally applied to smaller statues and the devotees foreheads’. Often, guests at one’s home will have a tilak or bindi applied when they walk through the threshold as in indian culture it is customary to literally treat their guests as though they were a statue in a temple.

If you happen to be interested in purchasing vibhuti or kumkum, Amazon has an amazing selection. Click here to view. Warning, be cautious of any cosmetic products you may purchase, always check the ingredients.

3 Important Things to Know About Shiva Murtis

Om Namah Shivaya! Shiva is the most popular of all Hindu deities & is worshiped throughout the Indian subcontinent and greater southeast Asia. He is revered as the lord who is responsible for maintaining the cycle of existence; including its beginning and conclusion. Being the patron deity of yoga & meditation, he is considered to be ultimately formless, omnipresent, and the Atman(eternal soul) of the universe itself. In his less abstract depictions, he is depicted as Bholenath, an ascetic yogi who lives in the Himalayas. It is said that lord Shiva grants his followers Moksha(liberation from reincarnation), & eternal happiness and bliss. In this article, one can find some useful vastu & traditional tips and guidelines on Shiva murtis!

diagram of where to place the mandir in a home

  • Where to place Shiva’s murti in the home

According to Vastu Shastra(traditional vedic architecture) there are specific places that one should seat the murti in order to reinforce & strengthen the vibrations & energies they give off. It is most ideal to place lord Shiva &|or his Lingam in the northeastern most part of the mandir or whatever space chosen; as is tradition with most murtis. Another reason for this is that it is said lord Shiva & goddess Parvati reside on mount Kailash and that the symbolic placing of Shiva, Ganesh, & Parvati murtis in northeastern corners is done in homage to this myth.

  • To Shiva Lingam, or not to Shiva Lingam? That is the question.

To answer that question simply: yes. Definitely yes. It’s not exactly a shrine to Shiva without his most sacred symbol. The Lingam stone is an abstract representation of the deva and is considered as a literal manifestation of Shiva’s omnipresence & formlessness. There are many myths about the do’s & don’ts of placing lord Shiva in the mandir, and the biggest myth is that you should only keep a single image of Shiva as multiple murtis cause a disruption in the mandir’s vibrations. This is not exactly so. Though Lingas are generally kept somewhat secluded in the mandir, it is not uncommon to have a second murti of Shiva-ji meditating or in his Nataraja(cosmic dance) posture raised on a platform & placed immediately behind the Lingam or adjacent to it.

  • General upkeep

The general upkeep of Shiva murtis in the home mandir is incredibly important! Thankfully, Shiva isn’t a very difficult deva to appease. Simply make sure the mandir is always clean, offer puja at least once a week, and make sure to meditate in front of the murti daily; once just after waking & again just before bed. The only offerings that are necessary for Shiv puja are water, uncooked rice, flowers, incense, and vibhuti(holy ash). One should also always try to keep a small candle or diya(brass oil lamp) lit next to the Shiva murti|Shiv Lingam; however, this is not absolutely necessary as sometimes it can be a fire hazard. It’s mainly a traditional thing.

3 most important things to know about Ganapati Murtis

Ganesh, also known as Shri Ganapati, is one of if not the most popular of all Hindu deities. He’s worshiped and honoured regardless of hindu denomination. So much so, his reverence spreads to even Buddhist and Jains alike. Being the patron of arts & science, remover of obstacles, keeper of wisdom, and lord of beginnings, it’s hard to not like him!  Ganesha can be found in just about every Hindu shrine due to these attributes, so here are the most important things to keep in mind when placing your Ganapati murti!

  • Where to place the Murti in home

Most are not aware, but there are specific places one may place the Ganapati Murti in order to strengthen the vibrations of bliss and success. It is ideal to seat the Murti in the northeastern most part of the home. If any other murtis are present, it is most proper for Ganesh to be seated to the right hand side of these murtis if he is not to be the center of the mandir. According to the Vastu Shastra(traditional vedic architecture), this positioning aids with the flow of chakra in the temple. It is also extremely common to have a small picture or idol of Ganesh next to or above the entryway of the home &|or puja room as it is said this acts as a blessing for those coming and going.

  • Posture of the Murti

Ganesha murtis come in many postures, & each gives off an entirely different vibration for a completely different purpose. The most common type is the sitting or meditating position. This posture is called the lalitasana. Sometimes rather than having both legs folded, one leg will be on the ground while the other rests upon his vahana(his mouse). This denotes that he is concerned with earthly affairs & is here to aid his followers and remove obstacles while his meditating pose where both legs are folded creates an atmosphere of calm and determination. His dancing or standing  posture is for those seeking a creative, energetic, & artistic atmosphere. His sitting postures are best for the home while his standing postures are best for work environments.

  • Position of the Trunk

Ganesh murti trunk hanging in the center and curled to the left This is a key aspect of Ganesh murtis that is often overlooked but should never be! When purchasing a Ganapati murti, be very very choosy. The trunk is the most important aspect of this specific murti. There are three main styles: Vamamukhi, Dakshinmukhi murti, and Shushumna. Vamamukhi trunks hang to the left & are the easiest to please and are associated with calmness, success, & happiness. They are also sometimes called Vastu Ganesh because he is perfect for solving vastu related issues. Whereas, Dakshinmukhi murti trunks hang to the right. It is believed that the sun’s energy flows through this murti’s trunk & because of this, owning one is not recommended as they require special care as per vedic tradition. If one worships this murti properly, it is said to grant immediate results & moksha(liberation from reincarnation); however, if one doesn’t follow the proper tradition then it is said that all the good results gained from the worship are burned away by the sun’s energy. The final kind is called Shushumna. With trunks hanging down straight, these statues are rather rare and considered extremely auspicious. 

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