auspicious(ness) and inauspicious(ness)

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The conceptual opposition of the auspicious (śubha, maṅgala) and the inauspicious (aśubha, amaṅgala) conditions the management of day to day life in much of Indian society. It is a dichotomy that is thought to reflect a natural order or division in the universe. In the light of this, the general aim is to utilize the auspicious to obtain good fortune, while avoiding the inauspicious and protecting oneself and one's family from the misfortune thought to attend it. Almost any thing or event tends to be assessed as either more or less auspicious. In particular, times and dates, linked to their specific astronomical conjunctions, are governed by this division; events such as weddings, and new undertakings in general, are therefore arranged in consultation with an astrologer in order that they may coincide with an auspicious moment in the calendar. On the same principle, combinations of dates and movements (travel arrangements, etc.) have to be carefully considered and planned; harmful supernatural beings may make use of inauspicious moments in order to strike, and the influence of the malevolent planet Saturn has to be avoided.

Inauspiciousness is personified by certain people (widows and funeral priests are prime examples); merely the sight of such a person is enough to bring about misfortune; conversely, the auspiciousness personified in a bride, for instance, symbolized by her ‘thread of auspiciousness’ (maṅgalasūtra or tali), will bring good fortune to those who see her. Marriage in itself is thought to make a Hindu woman auspicious, especially among the higher castes; in the same way, widowhood makes her highly inauspicious. Traditionally, the overall auspiciousness of society was a matter for the king, whose duty it was to create the right environment for good fortune and prosperity.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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