Bells are signs of auspiciousness and aid in invoking the Lord. Usually, we find bells at the entrance of temples in the Gharbagriha and inside the temple premises. Many devotees have bells on their home altars as well. There are many scientific and spiritual benefits of ringing bells. In the ancient days, temples did not have any doors. So the priests rang bells to inform the people that they had to leave as it was time for the Lord to rest. Another belief is that in the olden times, people calculated time with the aid of the bells, rung at consecutive time intervals. In Skanda Purana, the ringing of bells assists in purifying a person's sins. Dharma Shastra states that millions of bells will ring when the world succumbs to destruction.
In temples, the priests ring bells while conducting a pooja, aarathi, yajna, lighting incense sticks, offering flowers, and bathing the deity.
There are different types of bells. They mainly include the Garuda bell, the handbell, and the Ghanta. Garuda bells are small and are used with one hand while conducting poojas, aarathis, and yajnas. Handbells are usually in the shape of a plate made up of brass. One can play these bells with the aid of a wooden instrument. Ghantas are big bells hung in temples, and their sounds resonate for several kilometres.
Bells are indispensable parts of our religious and spiritual journey. They have a symbolic connection, as well. The body of a bell is the representation of Ananta or time. Its tongue has an association with Saraswathi Devi, the goddess of knowledge and wisdom. The handle portrays our prana shakti or life force. Hanuman, Garuda Nandi, and Sudharsha are also symbolically linked to it. The ringing of bells awakens our spiritual dimension and further enhances our connection with the divine. There are many scientific and spiritual significances as well as benefits related to bells in Hinduism.
The significance and benefits of ringing bells in temples and home altars: In a temple, a bell is rung while entering a temple, during a pooja, yajna, aarathi, and on special occasions as part of different rituals. The sound from the bell creates waves of Om, which is a sacred sound in Hinduism and also a sign of positivity. There are both scientific and theological reasons for ringing a bell. Let us look at the religious benefits associated with it.
• The ringing of bells before the conduction of an aarathi can remove the presence of any negative or evil energy.
• The echo from the bell can cleanse our mind of sadness and negativity.
• A bell rings for seven seconds, which is equal to the number of Chakras present in our body. The vibrations of the sound produced from the bell can eliminate imbalances in the Chakras.
• When a person rings a bell in a temple or home altar, its sound gathers his or her attention only to God. The bell also helps in gaining God's recognition.
• Bells, along with the sound of the conch and other musical instruments, invoke our inner consciousness. It enables us to focus on the importance of transcending from the physical realm and connecting with Ultimate Reality.
• A bell can remove any unnecessary noise and help us to focus on the sound from the bell.
These are some of the spiritual as well as religious benefits of ringing a bell while worshipping the Lord.
Now, let us discuss the scientific reasons linked to the usage of bells.
• The vibrations from the bells travel some distance (even kilometers). These sound waves can kill the viruses, bacterias, and micro-organisms in the surrounding area facilitating the purification of the environment.
• The sound from the bell can unite our left and right brain. Its synchronization improves our confidence and keeps us alert at times of crisis.
• The bells can cleanse our thoughts, calm, and soothe our minds. It provides us with good qualities like self-belief, kindness, strength, courage, devotion, and empathy. It is also helpful in making a person gentle and keeping his or her aggression down.
• The sound resonating from a bell can make a person more receptive.
• When a bell rings rhythmically, its waves allow a hyperactive person to focus and concentrate.
Apart from these spiritual and scientific significances, there is an essential factor mentioned in an ancient book known as Aagmashastra, which is: "I ring the bell indicating the invocation of divinity, so that virtuous and noble forces enter; and the demonic forces, within and without, depart." The bells play a crucial role in an individual's journey to the spiritual realm. It can awaken your consciousness and create a path for its passage to the infinite consciousness.
The metals used in bells and their significance: The bells used in temples and our home altars contain a mixture of different metals. Copper, silver, gold, brass, and iron are metals used for making bells. These five metals correspond to the Pancha Mahabhoota, which includes Earth, air, sky, water, and fire. They aid in forming the sound waves of Om and facilitate in evading the evil spirits. Often alloys of these metals, along with other metals like nickel, zinc, cadmium, chromium, manganese, and lead, are also used in the manufacturing of bells. The ratio in which the producers take the metals helps improve their sound quality. Bells are made with great care as they are essential elements of positivity.
Bells, thus, are rung due to several reasons across India. They have been playing an essential role since the ancient era. They play a significant role in improving our vitality, concentration and also help us to stay connected with the divine entity.