Etymology of Conch Shell
Conch Shell is known as the ‘Shankha’ in Sanskrit. The word ‘Shankha’ literally means pacifying the inauspicious and impure. Therefore the conch shell is blown at the beginning of any religious ritual in Hinduism and even at the arrival of the idol of any deity in the house.
Origin of Conch Shell
The Shankha or conch is believed to have originated from the churning of ocean or Samudra Manthan. Basically, conch is the shell of a sea creature. They are found in numerous shapes and patterns. According to zoologists, no other species possess such distinct forms and shapes like these. Conch has captivated man since prehistoric times.
Types of Conch Shell
There are two types of conches - the left handed conch shell and the right handed conch shell. The right handed conch is considered auspicious and is also known as ‘Valampiri Shankha’ or ‘Lakshmi Shankha’. The right handed conch shell is kept at home by many people because it is said to bring wealth and prosperity.
Symbolism of Conch Shell
Conch Shell is a significant instrument in Hinduism. It is a symbol of purity, brilliance and auspiciousness. In Hinduism, the sound from the conch is associated with the sacred syllable ‘Om’ which is believed to be the first sound of creation. The Shankha or conch marks the beginning of any good work. The sound of the conch is believed to be the purest form of sound which ushers in freshness and new hope.
Association of Shankha with Hindu Deities
Shankha is usually associated with Lord Vishnu. A conch is one of the five principal weapons of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu’s conch is known as the ‘Panchjanya’ which is believed to be the most powerful among the conch shells. It is said to contain the five elements i.e. water, fire, earth, sky and air. When the conch is blown, the sound emanated from it is a symbol of creation. Shankha is also associated with the God of Wealth, Kubera.