hindu (?) religion question

I saw something the other day that I’m not sure how to react to because I’m unsure of it’s intent:
I was walking through my appartment complex, and glanced in through an open door to see several people in front of a hindu* altar (not sure of the name, it was the woman with lots of arms), burning a picure of Osama Bin Laden. What is the meaning of this ritual? where they honoring him? condemning him?

*I’m somewhat sure about this, however i’ve been wrong before

I’m not Hindu or an expert on Hinduism. However, I do know that while there are several goddesses with multiple arms, one of them is Durga, the warrior goddess who destroys evil - so my guess is condemning him and praying for his defeat.

Can you describe the statue and altar any further? Was the goddess holding anything in her arms? Was she riding on an animal of some kind? What color was her skin?

the statue was gold, she was sitting cross-legged, and not riding anything. She had a hat of some sort on but I didn’t get a very long look, just as i was walking by.

To my knowledge,though it overlaps with what KOS said, the 3 hindu gods are : Bishnu(the creator), Barama(the presever), and shiva(the destroyer of evil). The multi-armed woman was what i always thought Shiva looked like,so I suppose what KOS said makes sence,they probably want peace. Osama may be a leader for many Middle Eastern people, but he is radical and stirs up more trouble than help. I’m sure many people coem to our country just to avoid people like him and other crazy leaders.

You didn’t mention whether the participants were Hindu (looked like they were from India) or western? My guess is, many-armed statue apart, the activity sounds more characteristic of some syncretistic variety of the Wiccan or other Neo-Pagan tendency. As you may know, Kali has become fairly popular among certain western Wiccans or neo-Pagans or other non-Hindus.

Hi, I’m a practicing Hindu. I’m also a brahmin (unfortunate because you get dragged to even more ritualistic stuff).

That’s Vishnu & Brahma…not Bishnu and Barama.

Hindus would never honour Osama Bin Laden. I believe he has declared jihad on India anyway. Secondly, whatever you saw was out of the ordinary. As far as I know we have no rituals setting a hex/evil eye on any person. This is not the way our religion functions. You probably saw some freaks that were upset and scared and pulling some retarded made-up ritual of their own. Whatever they were doing…I’m guessing their intent was praying to the gods to do something awful to OBL. Again, this is out of the ordinary, which is why you saw it happening in someone’s home and not in a Hindu temple.

king of spain-i’m descended from the Shanta Durga temple on my mom’s side. However, since one’s ancestral temple is identified on the dad’s side…my official ancestral temple is Mangeshi, in Goa.

sorry about the misspellings. I meant to note that i probably spelled them wrong,i just remember what the names sound like from hearign about it. I’m not sure whtehr you were referring to me or not,but i didn’t mean to say they would worship osama,I was trying to say i thought they’d be against him.

they appeared to be Indian, had it been a bunch of stupid goth kids I wouldn’t have given it a second thought.

In addition to the misspellings noted by anu-la, Brahma is the creator and Vishnu is the preserver. I don’t recall Shiva’s destructive dance being limited to evil. Am I wrong, anu-la?

IANAH (Hindu), but according to some basic 100-level mythological studies, Shiva isn’t evil, although as the god-force behind destruction and change he can cause people a lot of pain. (But so can the other two.) IIRC, this triumvirate is at the head of the cosmology, but there are several other lower-level gods (over a thousand, right?) that seem to be analogous to the mythological pantheons of the greeks or egyptians.


IANAHindu, but I have some Hindu friends and just finished the Hinduism section of my Intro to Asian Relgions class, so I may be able to help out here.

It’s not quite right to think of the Hindu pantheon as being analogous to the Greek or Roman ones. Hindus worship a single, unified, monotheistic/pantheistic Godhead which they call Brahman. (Not to be confused with Brahmin, the highest class in the caste system, or Brahma, another god whom I’ll get to below.) Brahman is “ultimate reality; the eternal, unchanging essence which underlies all things,” or “the one that is not two.” The purpose of human life is to eventually see through maya, the veil of illusion, and realize your own oneness with Brahman.

Now, since Brahman has no personality or attributes, it’s hard for limited humans to really worship it. So instead, you personify the various aspects of Brahman: to worship God as the preserver you think of Vishnu, God as the destroyer of evil you think of Shiva or Durga or perhaps Parvati, etc. The trinity, or Trimurti, of Brahma/Vishnu/Shiva - Creator/Perserver/Destroyer - is important, but they’re not really the highest gods or the heads of the pantheon or anything like that. Actually, the worship of Brahma isn’t all that important in Hinduism these days - the major traditions are the Shaivite strand, which worships Shiva and his family; the Vaishnavite strand, which worships Vishnu and his various incarnations; and the Shakti strand, which worships the various goddesses. But it’s not a heirarchical pantheon like the Greek or Egyptian one - all these gods and goddesses are simply aspects of Brahman.

As to the particular goddess fecal_nugget mentioned, Durga is most commonly portrayed holding weapons in each of her 16 arms and riding a tiger, but there’s a lot of variation in that sort of thing. I believe Shiva is occasionally portrayed as female too, so there’s another possibility. Kali, who represents destruction and entropy, has four arms, but she’s almost always portrayed with dark skin.

The book we used in my class was Hinduism: A Cultural Perspective by David R. Kinsley, which I recommend to any Westerner who wants to understand the religion better.

Like I said, IANAH, so anu-la, if you want to correct anything I’ve said here, be my guest.

:slight_smile: Actually IIRC, Shiva is portrayed not as a female, but along with Shakti(female) together in one body.

This group needs a “ASK a Hindu Guy/Chick” thread for sure. :wink:

Ack. That’s what I was thinking of. Never mind. Thanks, Googler.

I’d say it’s a safe bet that they were probably condemning Bin Laden. Think of it this way: if you live in the U.S. and were going to praise Bin Laden wouldn’t you take the precaution of closing your door so people who walk by wouldn’t see you?

Mentioned this thread to my professor this morning. She seemed kind of surprised by the scene fecal_nugget described and said it didn’t sound like any particular ritual she knew of, but she agreed that they were most likely requesting Durga or Kali’s help in defeating ObL.

Are you sure that the photo was of Osama bin Laden? There are many Hindu Saints that may resemble bin Laden from afar. Many Hindu religious ceremonies involve the use of fire, although not for the purpose of burning anything. What you saw may have looked like a picture of bin Laden being burned, but was more likely a fire being burned in front of a Hindu Saint of some kind.

Of course, as others have stated, you could’ve witnessed some sort of cult activity.

The scene described doesn’t match any Wiccan rituals.