It´s usual to see Hindus, especially women embellish their skin, hair or outfit with quite a lot of different symbols. But obviously it’s not just about the appearance, you can find Hindi symbols all over their culture: food, everyday life, occasional celebrations and more. Let´s immerse into this beautiful culture and learn what are the Indian sacred symbols to know before traveling to this magical country.
It’s one of the most common signs from women. This usually red dot, marked on the forehead and in between the eyebrows, in is made with Kumkum (powder used for social and religious markings) and it’s used to identify married women. Single girls also use it but it’s not made of Kumkum.
This word literally means “machine” or “tool”, but looks like a lot of geometric figures put all together. Sometimes you can find numbers written in them and depending on how the figures are aligned, the symbol can have positive effects on the life of its owner- you’ll find it painted in walls, papers or fabrics.
It is used in a lot of religious celebrations and symbolizes the eternal nature of the Brahman, and the four directions of the Swastika are symbols for the omnipresence of this God. The word itself is a combination of Su (good) and Asati (to exist), which means “may the good prevail”.
Source: A new life in India
4. Greeting someone with the hands together
It’s the usual way of saying hi or goodbye to another person in India, also accompanied by saying “Namaste”. By doing these two things, and slightly bowing the head, you’re offering respect to the soul and to the God that lives within the person you are greeting.
Source: Meditate on this
This beautiful flower represents Hindu culture and politeness. Some deities like Lord Ganesha, worshiped as a remover of obstacles in life, are usually represented with a lotus in their hand. You will also see Brahman (the "Creator God" and one of the three most worshiped deities in India) always sitting on a lotus flower.
6. Banyan Tree
This is the tree of longevity and the national tree for the country, so it’s pretty important inside this culture. Married women tend to tie a white thread around it, so their husbands will enjoy a longer life.
7. Multiple heads and arms
The multiple body parts in representations such as several typical dances, means the ability of being in many places at the same time (divine omnipresence), as well as influencing many things at the same time. The goal of this sign is to show different characteristics associated with the god that’s being represented.
Source: Planet Save
8. The cow
Known by almost everyone as the most sacred animal in India. It represents purity, good nature, prosperity and motherhood. So if you come across one when driving or walking through India, you can even cuddle but always let her do her thing. They are kind of the queen of the streets.
9. The saffron color
It represents all aspects of the Hindu culture. It’s the color of Agni (fire) which reflects the Supreme Being. In fact, its relevance comes from this color being the main symbol of ancient rites, related to some practices that took place in this historical religion.
Source: Nora & Valdas
10. Om (or Aum)
This sign is called prevana and it’s the most important one in the local culture. It is associated with the sound through which the universe was created. It represents walking, dreaming and deep sleep. This mantra (short prayer) is used at the beginning of quite a few prayers.
11. Henna tattoos
They have the biggest importance at a wedding and are usually made by the closest people of the bride. Feet and hands are decorated with dark colors henna in order to remain visible as long as possible. The mother-in-law is usually the first one to do it, starting a process that can last up to eight hours, guaranteeing the success of the marriage.
Personally, I can say that researching about the amazing culture of this wonderful country made me want to go there and to know details by details each of their customs. In some ways I see it very different from our western traditions and ways of living. Getting to know just a tiny bit of it triggered a deeper thirst to know more about India. Anyway, it’s important to acknowledge that India has an incredibly large quantity of symbols, as well as little interesting details and traditions that can be discovered, this is just the start. I encourage you to keep learning about this wonderful culture and share your experience! Traveling is always enriching!