Ringing the Temple Bells at Murdeshwar

Bell Ringers

Bell Ringers

Indians are loud and boisterous. This trait is woven into their psyche; I don’t think they even realize this as everyone is like that. I suspect that it stems from having such an enormous population; with so many speaking loudly at once, they have to raise their voices just to be heard. When a Hindu visits a temple they ring a bell, a large and beautifully crafted and sonorous bell. It awakens the gods, announces the worshiper’s presence to the gods and asks that he be acknowledged and noticed. The sound lasts for a minimum of seven seconds so that it echoes your seven healing centers or the seven chakras in your body. The sound of the bell has the potential to achieve a unity between both the left and right sides of the brain.

Temple Bells

Temple Bells

Within a large temple complex like Murdeshwar, there are numerous shrines that honor various deities, each with its own temple bell. A devotee rings the bell before he offers his prayers and worship begins, inviting the deity to accept his prayers, helping to ward off evil forces.

Ringing the Bell

Ringing the Bell

During my brief visit to Murdeshwar, there were many Ayyappan men on pilgrimage. This sect makes a pilgrimage to Sabarimala, Kerala at specific times during the year. There are many rules regarding what they wear: black or blue lungis, a specific set of beads called a mala with their god, Ayyappa hanging from it and many other requirements about what they eat, how they behave and how they prepare for the pilgrimage. Women between ten and fifty years of age are not allowed on these pilgrimages. This is currently under scrutiny by the High Court but I have little hope that this will change.

As a group, these men are quite foreboding but individually they are just your typical middle class man who probably has a job in technology.

Pilgrims Pray

Pilgrims Pray

The Line Up

The Line Up

Gazing Upward

Gazing Upward

Golden Glow

Golden Glow

Everyone was praying and taking photos with their cellphones, all at the same time. It was a very unusual mix of devotion, holiday makers relaxing, children making mischief and one foreigner trying to capture it all. This is one of those places that I know I will return to soon.

 

 

 

 

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About ninagrandiose

I am based in NYC but travel regularly to India and Mexico. Both of these countries feel like home. In India I scour the country in search of fabulous textiles to incorporate into my clothing designs. I sit back and let the ambiance and wonder of India seep into my consciousness so I can be inspired to write about what India is for me. I bring a limited number of people to India on exclusive and intimate tours of my favorite hangouts. In Mexico I take in the natural beauty that surrounds me and dance the night away. I constantly give thanks for all this and am pleased to share it all with you.
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12 Responses to Ringing the Temple Bells at Murdeshwar

  1. Dr.V.Sridhar says:

    Superb narration.what all the description you mentioned is true for most of the Indians.,noisy etc.
    Telling the readers about purpose of the temple bells,the purpose of the devotee ringing the bell,the details about Ayyappa sect and some devotees busy with cellphones. …..my God ….it’s so well narrated,though I am born Hindu Indian and part of the culture…….it was indeed refreshing for me to go through your wonderful article.Thank you. The photos are fantastic

  2. There is something special about all the sounds around Hindu temples, isn’t there! You photos tell the story so that we can almost hear the “noise”. Great post, Nina.

    • ninagrandiose says:

      Yes, indeed. Indians are so loud that they worry that the gods won’t hear them and so they ring their bells. Thanks, Otto.

  3. sewnupgifts says:

    Thanks so much for explaining, we heard and saw these bells but didn’t truely understand their real purpose. Another very interesting post, thank you Nina.

    • ninagrandiose says:

      I am always glad to shed some additional light on the subject of India and the temple bells. Thanks for the comment and support.

  4. Dalo 2013 says:

    Fantastic shots, you put us in the middle of this great scene…

    • ninagrandiose says:

      Unfortunately, your comment got into the spam list or I would have responded sooner. I am pleased and grateful for the comment….and blown away by your photos. Thank you.

  5. Jackie says:

    always something to learn. fascinating read. Question! Why cant women between 10 and 50 attend? Is it something to do with ” child bearing” age.? I guess if you are a female and 55 you can attend. What is the thinking behind this please

  6. ninagrandiose says:

    The answer is extremely complicated and not necessarily agreed upon by all Hindus. When Hindu women menstruate, they are not allowed to perform any religious rituals, cook or do just about anything. A true pilgrimage to Sabarimala requires a 41 day preparation that involves many religious rituals that a menstruating woman isn’t allowed to perform. Hindus also view women during this time as weak and tired and wouldn’t have the strength to complete the rigorous on foot journey to the temple that is part of the requirement of the pilgrimage. Lord Ayappan took vows of celibacy. Women between 10 and 50 could distract him. There are many more explanations but they largely stem from these ideas. Modern women are challenging these restrictions before the High Court right now. I doubt that things will change in our life time. Did that give you some insight?

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