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Popular Hindu Tattoos – Gods and Symbols in Hinduism

I still vividly remember a small tattoo of Lord Krishna on my grand father’s hand. It was very small, had no designs and was green in color and in local language such tattoo is known as ‘Pacha kuttuka.’ But today body Tattoos of Hindu gods and symbols associated with Hinduism are very popular in the world and are no longer simple figures but are of elaborate designs and many times awe-inspiring.

Lord Ganesha continues to be the most popular Hindu God when it comes to body tattoos. ‘Om’ or Aum’ is the most favorite symbol.

Other popular Hindu gods employed in tattoos include Shiva, Goddess Lakshmi, Saraswathi, Hanuman, Vishnu, Krishna, Durga, Kali and very rarely Lord Vishnu in Anantha Shayanam form (Lying on five-headed snake Anantha in the Ocean).

Among symbols after the ‘OM’ symbol, it is the trident of Shiva and Sanskrit verses or Sanskrit letters. There are also people who opt for the Swastika symbol and rarely the Poorna Kumbha symbol.

India has a strong tradition of tattoo drawing especially in the rural regions. But the tradition was limited mostly to simple drawings, writing names of one’s favorite god or lover in local languages.

The modern tattoo culture around the world has redefined the way in which Hindu gods are depicted in tattoos. The images of Hindu gods have been adopted into the mainstream tattoo drawing by using various techniques developed in the West.

Interestingly, it is not Hindus who are interested in the Hindu tattoos. This is understandable as many Hindus would not prefer tattoos of Hindu Gods on their body. And some Hindus might find it an insult of their culture.

It is mainly westerners and people who are foreign to Hindu culture that finds the tattoos of Hindu gods interesting. What kindles their interest is the elaborate and mind-boggling Hindu religious iconography.

Image courtesy found on Flickr