Mahavir Jayanti and the tradition of making rice Swastika
Dr. Lalit Kishore
Often rice Swastika (gahuli) is made by the followers at Jain temples in front of Jain deities or on religious events as a sign of good omen or auspiciousness. Swastika is an important Jain symbol, which is also a part of Hinduism and Buddhism.
To make rice gahuli, first of all the rice is spread on the floor in square, circular of hexagonal shape. Then successively the first finger is run in the rice in cyclic order to get the Swastika design in simple or complex designs. It is widely known as an important symbol used in Indian religions, denoting "auspiciousness."
In Jainism, the four arms of the Swastika symbolize the four states of existence, namely, heavenly beings or devas, human beings, hellish beings, tiryancha or subhuman like flora or fauna as destined to one of these states based on their karma.
It symbolizes that one has to rise above the running cross of Swastika, meaning that one has to transcend imperfect world to a permanent state of enlightenment and acquire the four characteristics of the soul: infinite knowledge, infinite perception, infinite happiness and infinite energy.
In Sanskrit, the word Svasti is composed of 'su' - meaning "good, well" and 'asti' meaning "it is", which thus stands for the "thing that is auspicious." It is also worn as a "lucky charm" in some religions.
The inset picture shows the rice spread in square shape and the final simple Swastika created from it.