I was sitting at a birthday party this weekend when I noticed a tattoo on one mom's arm. Being the nosey person that I am, I asked it it had any meaning or if it was a design that she liked. You never know. I have high schoolers who get tattoos and they have no idea what it means, they just liked the look of it. Anyway, it looked like this:
In Puri, India (about 300 miles southwest of Calcutta), there is a temple dedicated to the worship of Jaganatha, Lord of the Universe (I actually saw one site that titled him Master of the Universe and I just couldn't get the image of He-Man out of my mind). He is an ancient Hindu deity that is either an incarnation of Vishnu or Siva (people differ as they sometimes do). In this temple is a fiercesome looking idol that is a black block of wood with a blood-red mouth. In a midsummer festival, the idol is placed on a 60 foot tower with wheels and is pulled by priests with some ropes. Once the towers starts moving, it does not stop. Devout worshipers throw themselves in front of it to be crushed by the wheels as a sacrifice to him (sheesh, and some people think tithing 10% in their church is too much!).
This sacrifice is the origin of our word juggernaut (that which cannot be stopped). These festivals are very popular and I read that about 70 to 80 thousand people go there to worship. During the festival, all castes can eat together.
Pretty cool, huh?