aṣṭamaṅgalas

(‘eight [objects] of auspiciousness’)

Traditional Hinduism has always considered certain objects and living beings as ‘maṅgala’ or auspicious. Coming across them by chance, seeing them, receiving them as gifts, giving them as gifts or honouring them—all these (depending upon the type of object) have been deemed to produce auspiciousness.

‘Aṣṭamaṅgala’ is a term often used in the religious works to indicate eight such objects of auspiciousness, though there is no unanimity among the lists given. These objects may be necessary on important occasions as the coronation of a king, or they may be depicted as motifs in architecture. In a few rare cases as in a vrata (religious vow) they represent the objects to be gifted.

The aṣṭamaṅgalas are: lion, bull, serpent or elephant, pitcher, cāmara (cauri made of the bushy hairs of a yak’s tail) or a hand-fan, flag, trumpet or drum and lamp.

As per another list, they are: a brāhmaṇa, cow, fire, gold, ghee (butter-oil), the sun, water and a king.

Other objects included in such lists (keeping of course, the total number always eight) are: fruits, corns, book, mirror, conch, the svastika sign, white umbrella, a pair of fish, head of a horse, wheel, lotus and throne.