Why Shankha is blown as part of Hindu rituals


Hinduism has a long-standing tradition of blowing the conch shell, referred to as the “Shankha.” It is not just a musical instrument, but a symbol of something deeply spiritual and significant in the culture and practices. The initial sound and vibration produced by a Shankh, especially in a temple or during religious ceremonies, mark the commencement of something sacred and pure, such as a ritual or prayer. Apart from being an auspicious symbol, the Shankha holds a much deeper meaning. Continue reading to discover more.

Myths and legends of blowing the conch shell or Shankha

The conch shell has played a role in Hindu rituals and ceremonies for an extended period, with its history intertwined with both mythology and ancient texts. According to Hindu scriptures, Lord Vishnu is often depicted holding his Shankh called ‘Panchjanya’. In the revered Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna blows the Shankha before the start of the great Mahabharata battle. Throughout history, the conch has been used to announce the beginning of significant battles, symbolizing the call to duty, righteousness, and the victory of good over evil. Another narrative explains the emergence of the Shankh and describes how Lord Vishnu blew the cone-shaped ear bone of the defeated demon Shankhasura, resulting in the emanation of the ‘Om’ sound from it.

Conch as a symbol of purity & Inviting positivity

According to our ancestors and the holy scriptures, one of the most significant aspects of blowing the conch is its association with purity and positivity. The sound produced by the conch is believed to purify the environment, dispelling negative energies and bringing in positivity. When it is blown before or during a religious ritual, it is seen as a means to cleanse the surroundings, making it conducive to divine activities.

Blowing the conch is said to eliminate the Rajsik and Tamsik elements, as well as the negative/ low frequencies present in the atmosphere. Both of these frequencies are considered distressing and attract material desires. Blowing the conch attracts Sattvik properties, which are considered pure, calm, and auspicious for humans.

Call to the divine -In temples and rituals

The resounding voice of the conch acts as a call to the divine. When it is blown at the beginning of a religious ceremony, it serves as an invitation to the gods and goddesses, signifying the start of worship. This call is believed to awaken the divine presence and establish a connection between the worshipper and the divine. Moreover, during the ‘Shankhnaad’ or blowing of the conch, the pointy end should be directed towards the deities or the image of the deity.

In Hindu temples, the conch is blown to mark the initiation of daily rituals, such as the ‘aarti’ or the ‘puja.’ This practice is still followed in temples and some Indian homes, reinforcing the sacredness of the conch and its role in connecting the devotees with the divine. In fact, in some households, family members wake up devotedly at 4 am every day to perform the Shankhanaad, the ritual of blowing the conch shell, before or during sunrise. The conch is blown at the beginning of these ceremonies, symbolizing the family’s reverence for the divine and the purification of their space.

​Festivals and celebrations

In grand celebrations like Diwali, Navratri, and Durga Puja, the conch is blown as part of the festivities. Its sound not only indicates the commencement of the celebrations but also serves as a reminder of the spiritual essence of these events. Blowing the conch amidst joyous occasions connects the devotees with the divine faith and cultural traditions.

Who should not blow the Shankh?

The blowing of the Shankh, or Shankhnaad, should be done carefully, especially by amateurs. They are advised to learn from an elderly or an expert beforehand, as incorrect blowing or excessive pressure can harm the diaphragm and eardrums. Additionally, individuals suffering from hernia or high blood pressure are advised against excessive blowing of the conch, as it puts significant pressure on the organs.
Therefore, while blowing the conch can bring countless physical and spiritual benefits, certain individuals are advised to refrain from performing this activity.

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