Belur Chennakeshava Temple: Mohini Pillar inside Navaranga

Mohini Pillar - Mohini carved on a pillar inside Navaranga

Mohini Pillar – Mohini carved on a pillar inside Navaranga

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Mohini Pillar
The image shows Mohini, one of Vishnu’s ten avatars, carved on a pillar located near the dance floor inside Navaranga. Unlike most of the sculptures, which were made of soft soapstone (locally known as Balapada Kallu), this sculpture was made of black stone (locally known as Krishna Shile).

As you can see from the image, Mohini has a well-proportioned but a slender body. She is standing with a graceful stance with her body slightly curved around the midriff. Her beautiful face has a calm and pleasant facial expression. A crown with an unusually tall cap adorns her head. She is wearing a variety of jewelry, including necklaces, anklets, and armbands. Above her long skirt, which has beautiful patterns, a udiyana(waistband) is wrapped around the waist.

Notice the looped thread hanging across the chest from the left shoulder to the waist. This thread, known as yajnopavita, is a symbol indicating the person wearing it has mastered Vedas and undergone the Upanayana ceremony. It is typically worn by men, but in this case, it indicates that Mohini is indeed an avatar of Vishnu.

If you look at her toes, you will notice that the second toe is longer than the big toe. In modern medicine, it is considered a deformity and is suffered by 20% of the population. This deformity even has a name, i.e., Morton’s Toe. In ancient India, women with Morton’s Toes were highly sought after for marriage because of the belief that they would make an ideal wife.

Copyright © 2019 by Lawrence Rodrigues. All rights reserved.

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