Tag Archives: Hinduism


‘Every year for 9 days my family celebrates a festival called Navaratri. My mom (especially where she’s from in South India, a town called Chennai) has a ton of dolls that she puts on steps in our house called ‘Golu’ to tell stories. The steps are basically a showcase of stories of all the Hindu gods. Some people have really small steps and not many Golus, but my mom loves to go all out… The festival involves Pujas to celebrate the goddess Durga who is practically the mother goddess Mahadevi. She is known for protection and motherhood. Durga is celebrated for 9 days and nights because we’re told she killed the demon Mahishasura.’ – HP

HP has grown up celebrating Navaratri ever since she can remember. She enjoys celebrating this festival, as it’s a time where her friends and family come over to eat and talk, celebrate and do a puja. They gather around to see all the dolls. When she was younger she loved to see the different stories her mom would create with the dolls and put on the steps. Every time she visits India, her mom always buys a new doll for the Golu, so throughout her life, she has accumulated many. She wants to carry out this tradition for the rest of her life and share it with her own loved ones and future family. Its a way to show creativity with faith.

A photo captured in HP’s home of the Golu and dolls during Navaratri

Navaratri is a festival full of culture, heritage, and faith. The festival encompasses many prayers, customs, rituals, and incorporates countless folk beliefs, gestures, and storytelling. This festival includes many folkloristic properties. The stories told from the Golu and to the family and friends who gather around spread and share the heritage and ancestry important in the Hindu religion. Furthermore, many storytellings of Hindu faith, such as about the Gods and Goddesses, are shared, allowing for the audiences to continue to spread these tales, just as HP has done with me. This festival allows for Hindu creativity to bloom and be on display for any and all visitors. HP reminiscing on her past Navaratri holidays show that importance and especially the endurance of this ritual in her life. Additionally, her desire to continue these festivities with her future family encapsulates folklore and its inevitable spread of culture and heritage.

No Marriage After Death

‘It is a Hindu custom (based on what my mom says) that you are not supposed to get married within a year of death of a close family member. That is a time of mourning. Also, after one year, you basically have another funeral called the Last Rites. When my dad’s mom died my parents couldn’t get married that year even though they met 10 months after she died and were engaged.’ -HP

While HP has never had to partake in this custom, she recognizes that it is an important custom of Hindu culture. She believes that it brings unity to the family before bringing in someone new. This custom is centuries old in Hindu faith.

My first impression of this custom was surprise at how the Hindu community respects and remembers loved ones that have passed and allow a period of mourning. Refraining from such celebrations, like a wedding, allows those involved to grieve and truly acknowledge the loved one who passed away. I think that this is a very sensitive and beautiful way to show honor to the departed, as they refrain from any activities that may take away from the impact the person had. Additionally, the celebration of the Last Rites practice, being common in Hindu tradition a year after death, feels like a final remembrance and closure for all. These customs are from traditional beliefs, many of which probably sprouted from folk practices throughout the history of India and Hindu culture. Folklore also encompasses cultures and beliefs, sharing this in common with these customs. It is also evident that HP and her family learned these rituals from ancestral sources; practices that have been learned, taught, and passed down through generations, just as folklore is known for.

The Safety of a Dollar Bill

“Every time I leave to go on a trip, I put a dollar bill in front of Ganesha to bless myself with safety for my travels to whatever destination”

Whenever she is traveling, she never forgets to put a one dollar bill in front of a statue of Ganesha, one of the most worshipped Hindu deities or gods. In Hinduism, Ganesha is associated with success and removes obstacles in one’s life.The dollar bill is an offering to Ganesha in order to receive a blessing of peace and safety on her next adventure. This money is never touched again and never removed. Every dollar bill she has placed in front of Ganesha throughout her life still sits right as she left them. While her parents taught her this practice, this ritual has been passed down many generations of her family and is a largely shared practice in the Hindu religion and culture.

I had never heard of this spiritual ritual before, especially when traveling or embarking upon a new adventure. My familiarity with an act like this is something similar to leaving a dollar or a trinket on a shrine of a god or a spiritual entity one believes in. For example, in Catholicism, Saint Christopher is the saint of protection and guidance for those on journeys, and people in this religion will wear a pendant with this saint on it for a sense of safety. This demonstrates the variability and immense diversity in folklore; some traditions are similar and hold comparable values while coming from totally different heritages and backgrounds. While folklore does not always stem from religious beliefs, this shows that it can interlace with so many different categories of life and be passed throughout centuries, while still holding on to key aspects of the tradition, story, practice, etc. Overall, this ritual that this person practices examples how traditions are passed down throughout generations and entire cultures with adaptability to circumstance and environment. For example, this person and her family use a dollar bill to represent the token given to Ganesha, while in India, or other countries where Hinduism is practiced, these tokens may be different, whether it is a different currency used or something completely different, such as a special trinket. Folklore has the ability to shape individuals practices and beliefs all while creating and sustaining a connection to cultural communities.

Superstition: To Ward Off Evil With A Black Rubber Band

“My mom makes me wear a black rubber band or a black clothing item to ward off evil eyes and evil spirits.”

She has spent her whole life always making sure she is wearing a black rubber band, or a black article of clothing. Growing up she was told that this ritual will ensure that all evil eyes and evil spirits will be kept off of her. If she doesn’t have a black rubber band or piece of clothing, then her mom places a black dot, like a freckle, on the center of her cheek. Last year, she moved across the country from her family, and as a going away gift, her mother gave her a black anklet that she wears every day and every night. This person grew up Hindu and the act of having a protective, tangible, symbol is a part of many Hindu traditions that create protection and give blessings. Her mother grew up in a region of India where this tradition is practiced and so she continues to pass it on through another generation of her own family. This person has even started implementing this ritual with those that she loves in her life to ensure evil spirits are kept at bay from them.

My first impression when hearing this ritual was that it is very similar to the evil eye pendants and jewelry many people wear for similar reasons, being to rid off any evil in their lives. This ritual and act appears to have been passed down for generations, a quality important in folklore as there is an emphasis of familial traditions that create the beliefs surrounding this culture. This suggests that there is a strong connection to ancestral cultures and heritage among her family, but also in the Hindu community as well. Furthermore, while to this person the tradition was wearing a black rubber band or the black spot placed on her cheek, she now wears a black jeweled anklet. This shows that while the ritual is still the same, it has progressed and evolved into a piece of jewelry. This can be looked at in a symbolic matter, showing that as folklore and traditions carries on, it is evolved with time and adapts to different circumstances, or audiences when looked at in a wider perspective. It is common ground that folklore is an ever-changing aspect of life, and this simple switch from a rubber band to an anklet is a great example of its resilience. Finally, this person sharing her beliefs with others creates a space for shared cultural identities, another important theme of folklore, as cultural appreciation holds a large spot in the sharing of customs and stories.

A Coincidental Blessing

“100 Years”

When both she and her mother call each other at the same time, the first thing that is said on the phone is “100 years”. This person is a part the Hindu Culture and this phrase represents a blessing to her and her family; 100 years of prosperity, as I was thinking of you and you were thinking of me.

Initially, I did not understand what the phrase “100 years” meant and how it could be a blessing in the context of a phone call. However, my initial interpretation was that it could mean “what are the odds?”, like something that only happens once every 100 years. Both her and her mother thinking of each other and the same time and calling each other in that moment is an amazing coincidence, thus rare. This phrase holds a symbolic value in her culture, showing a spiritual connection between her and her mother, and in a greater perspective, demonstrates the value of family and interconnectedness in Hinduism. Additionally, this also shows a shared ritual between family members which is a common motif among folklore tradition, which serves to exhibit a connection to heritage and ancestors. A phrase being passed down throughout generations plays in many folklore contexts, and I believe, is the basis of what makes folklore, folklore.