Temple Bells

Ghanta is the Sanskrit term for a ritual bell in Hinduistic religious practices.

Bells are hollow metallic instruments, closed at one end. They belong to the idiophonic group. The bells are struck by a freely suspended clapper from inside or by a hinged hammer or mallet from the outside. In the former case, the clapper strikes against the inner surface of the bell and in the latter, the hammer strikes against the outer rim of the bell.

Many of the major shrines of South India have huge bells. They are sounded during the rituals. The pitch of the note given by the bell bears a samvadi relationship to the note given by the conch. For instance, the notes given by the conch and the bell in the temple at Chidambaram bear the sa-pa relationship.

In addition to the huge bells, there are small hand-bells which are of interest from the technical point of view. These bells, which have no clapper are small in size. There are few bells which gives omkara nada when rubbed along the rim with a stick.

A bell is rung in the temple, mostly during the waving of light, while bathing the deity and while offering food. Devotees on entering the temple also hit the bell hanged in front of the sanctorum.

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