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Ghanakarna – Deity Worshipped in Eastern Parts of India – Ghanu

Ghanakarna, or Ghanu, is a deity worshipped in eastern parts of India especially in 24 Parganas, Burdwan and Bankura districts of Bengal. He is believed to be an incarnation of Surya, the sun god. This is because he has curative powers against leprosy and other skin diseases. He is also believed to be a manifestation of Dharmathakur, a local deity.

A legend has it that Lord Vishnu once cursed Ghanakarna. Therefore, he hates Vishnu. To avoid hearing Vishnu’s name, he hung two bells from his ears. Thus, he got the name Ghanakarna – Ghana meaning bell and karna meaning ear.

The deity is worshipped on the side of a pond or near crossroads and not in temples. There are also no mantras dedicated to the deity. He is represented on an old used earthen pot. The face of the deity or the entire body is drawn using cow dung on the earthen pot. Eyes are made using two shells.

Vermilion mark is painted on forehead. A cloth stained in turmeric used during the puja. During pujas, the pot is turned upside down on a tattered winnow mat.

The puja is usually performed on the first day of Phalguna  month as per traditional calendar followed in Bengal. The puja is mainly observed in Phalgun and Chaitra month.

The priestess performs puja to the deity with untied hair. Offerings are made with left hand. The offerings are meager and include little rice, lentils, and jaggery.

At the end of the puja, small children break the pot. Women take the pieces of broken pot along with cowdung and place them on the thresholds of the houses.

The turmeric stained cloth is used to touch the eyes of the children. Kajal, or kohl, is prepared from the broken pot. It is believed that both these have curative properties especially against skin and eye diseases.