Cow Dung worship

11:44 AM

I assure you read that title right. This is exactly what the ladies of the house in DH’s community do the morning after Diwali to ensure wealth and prosperity in the household for the year to come.
Since I had no idea how things worked, I let my sister in law do the preparation. Which actually meant using fresh cow dung to draw a symbolic representation of a village complete with 3D little cow dung people (all this made with bare hands and on the ground in the court yard). I myself took the less smelly job of putting various types of lentils and grains in designated area on the pattern to mimic granaries and mangers. We then went back to the kitchen to make little birds out of rice floor dough for the female only ritual.

Once MIL was ready, we headed back outside, lit oil lamps in the dung village, and had our feet painted with some magenta tainted water and proceed to bless the village with the usual water sprinkling, grain throwing and red tikka applying all the various elements and then concluded by eating one of the rice flour birds each before call it quit and head to the kitchen for breakfast.
While the whole ritual may sound gross (after all this is cow dung we are talking about), what fascinates me is how Hinduism has remained an earthy religion close to its people and the farming roots of India. With all the rural symbols and wish of prosperity linked to grain, food and by default wealth. Somehow it is not so odd that the Goddess of wealth is a woman, and that the rituals closely associated to fertile matters are conducted by the women of the household using earth symbols, which are by default symbols of life and fertility as well (the men have another ritual the next day involving fire). The rest of the day is generally spent lazing around as everything is anyway closed. That part was actually tougher on me than being around smelly dung and a swarm of flies.


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