The power in performing any ritual lies in understanding the meaning behind why we do it. We’ve all, at some time in our lives, had medicine in capsule form. The capsule is just a channel or a vehicle to administer the actual medicine. Likewise, rituals are acts that help in conveying a deeper meaning.
Before we look at the rituals, allow me take you back in time to the era of our rishis and gurus. There are several references to the purushartha in the ancient Indian texts. This was a system to adhere to, in order to have a meaningful life. Dharma, artha, kama and moksha are the four pillars of purusharthas. This particular sequence has a great logic and timelessness to it.
Dharma refers to the values that are self imposed. It is the separation of right from wrong, but both are individual, and not universal, in nature. Wealth can be easily generated using dubious means. But if you make money in an unfair or corrupt manner, you need to face the consequence of the societal laws and your own emotions as well. Artha means money and wealth. Kama means desires and as humans, this is an intrinsic part of our life. And finally moksha means liberation, nirvana, or enlightenment. If we have fulfilled the first three stages in a harmonious manner, then the fourth is a natural process. Moksha is a non-doing state, it just happens.
So from the above you will notice that artha comes second in relevance to dharma. This implies that to create wealth you need to first have good values. Here are some rituals and customs from Indian culture and the underlying meaning behind the actions.
Gifting of money
While gifting money, why do we always give an odd figure such as 1001 or 501 and not 1000 or 500? That’s because zero symbolises the end and one stands for a new beginning. Hence, adding one to a round figure indicates auspiciousness and a wish for the receiver to have a great start to a new endeavour. Incidentally, numbers were discovered by Indians. In Indian culture, money is given by the elders to the younger family members or friends on all important life events such as birth, marriage, graduation or festivals. It’s a blessing to bestow abundance in life. In India, money is accepted as vital energy. And any energy has to keep flowing to allow space for more. So, in the act of gifting money to loved ones, we are also sending out a sign to the universe that we are ready to receive more.
Money and the Gods
Mahalakshmi comes from the sanskrit words maha, meaning great and lakshaya, meaning focus. Though this is the name of the Indian goddess of wealth and prosperity, the word itself holds the secret to bounty. It is said that the energy of Mahalakshmi blesses those who focus on money with a sense of grandeur. They begin to attract more money to their life. Idols of the goddess are hence placed in areas of work, worship and even in safes and vaults as a reminder to keep the lakshya on attracting more fortune.
The colour of money
The colour red symbolises life, passion and vitality. It also represents the mooladhara or root chakra. Red represents power and confidence and is used extensively in feng shui. It is a colour of good luck and happiness. It brings focus to the essence of life and living with emphasis on survival. Red also signifies passion and is a strong, noticeable colour. Green is the colour of Nature and symbolises the universe. It stands for growth and fertility. In India, the heart chakra is green in colour. The anahata or heart chakra is between the three lower materialistic chakras and the three higher spiritual chakras. The heart chakra represents the most powerful energy of love.
Paper currency in India is always of these two colours. In America, the dollar was created in a state of high consciousness by a group of mystical people who embedded the energy of colour and mystical symbols in the one dollar bill. That’s probably the reason why American currency is accepted as the currency of the world.
A time for money
According to ancient Indian shashtras, dusk is the time of arrival of Mahalakshmi. It is the best time to remove negativities from your home or office spaces. During this time you can light sambhrani or dhoop sticks. In fact, you’ll always notice this if you visit a typical South Indian household or even restaurant. Fumes from the sambhrani/dhoop are taken all over the workplace or home to purify the space. This signifies that we’re creating a pure and clean environment for money and prosperity to enter.
Among the days, Friday receives special attention as the day of money. Friday is the day of the Venus—the planet that represents femininity, fortune, love and leisure. It also stands for inner feeling, which when balanced leads to an overall balance. Venus also represents the power of the material and the spiritual world. Hence, shukrawar, is observed as the day of money. Any money decision can be taken on this day, but a lot of people also do not give money on Friday because they believe that it’s the day to receive and not give cash. However I reckon that this is more a myth than a ritual, because ‘currency’ is meant to flow.
Other auspicious days to exchange money are Akshaya Tritiya, Onam, Pongal, Baisakhi, New Year’s day and all full moon days.
This was first published in the October 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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