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Donkey in Hinduism - Donkey as Vahana - Vehicle of Goddess in Hindu Religion

Donkey is the Vahana, or vehicle, of Goddess Kalratri and of Goddess Shitala in Hindu religion. The vahana, or vehicle, concept is unique to Hinduism and often has hidden symbolism.

As per some scholars in ancient India, the donkey was regarded as evil and lascivious. Its bray a portent of scanty harvest. It was also associated with adultery.

Goddess Kalratri is one among the nine goddesses worshipped during Navratri. She is believed to ride on a donkey at night. She is also associated with the angry form of Goddess Shakti.

Donkey as Vahana - Vehicle of Goddess in Hindu Religion
Kalaratri Atop Donkey Worshiped During Navratri
Goddess Shitala Mata, the goddess of fever and smallpox, is also believed to ride on a donkey. She is believed to ride on a donkey carrying various grams in a basket. She scatters them creating various skin diseases.

Donkey Atop Ravana

Certain medieval painters used to paint a male donkey above the ten heads of Ravana.

This symbolically indicates Ravana’s stubbornness of not parting with Mata Sita despite numerous warnings by Sri Ram, Lakshman and the Vanara Sena.

Placing a person on a donkey and moving him around the village is seen as a form of punishment in North India. The artists thought that Ravan demanded a more serious punishment. Therefore, they placed the donkey atop Ravan.