Jewelry for Hindu deities

Hindu Goddess adorned with jewelry, Sankhu, Nepal
Adorned image of Khadga Jogini Goddess of Sankhu, Nepal

In Hinduism images of deities are traditionally decorated with jewelry. According to Hindu belief all precious metals and gem stones are believed to be ritually pure and any pollution or contamination they may catch is removed simply by washing. So such adornments are suitable for deities decoration.
The purpose of adorning the deity image with jewelry is to impress the mind of the viewer to whom such a show of wealth is awe inspiring.

Bejeweled image of Buddhist deity, Samyak festival, Patan, Nepal
Bejeweled image of a Buddhist deity, Samyak festival, Patan, Nepal

It is common practice in these countries when pilgrims visiting a temple donate some of their jewelry. Sometimes there is a direct association between a type of jewelry donated and a request from a deity. For example, women desiring marriage or children often give bangles. In some big and famous temples the amount of accumulated jewelry and precious objects over the years can be immense. The most valuable pieces become the festive ornaments placed on the image at special times such as the Holi and Divali festivals and on the occasion of the deity's birthday. After use they are returned to the temple treasury and replaced by the jewelry used on ordinary days.

Hindu temple jewelry, 18th century

Hindu temple jewelry, 18th century
temple jewelry, pendants and a necklace. 18th century. Photo from here

After contact with the deity image, jewelry is believed to gain a special sanctity and so, if damaged or broken and therefore sold, it will have a higher price than its actual market value.

Buddhist deity image adorned with jewelry
Even small images are adorned. Samyak festival, Patan, Nepal

Bejeweled deities at the temple in Sri Lanka
Bejeweled deities in the Sita Amman temple, Sri Lanka

Hindu deity adorned with numerous jewelry, Patan, Nepal
Decorated with numerous jewelry an image of Rato Machhendranath deity, Patan, Nepal (this temple is destroyed now by the earthquake)

A viewing the sacred image of a Hindu deity in a temple is called darshana. In many large temples, upon payment of an appropriate fee, temple authorities will arrange a private darshana of the deity adorned in diamonds, ruby, emerald, sapphire or pearl jewelry. The most costly and beneficial is the diamond darshana.
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  1. Very interesting to read! These deities are very richly decorated. I hope no on robs them.

  2. What beautiful trinkets, I've never seen a shrine decorated like this before. x

  3. The craftsmanship is amazing on these. And such beauty, even though I am overthinking it I am sure, but how much beauty in the concept that what is precious, once sullied, is not ruined but can be made whole with a cleansing. That is poetic and wonderful! Have a happy week sweet friend xoxo

    All Things Bright and Lovely