Animal worship, also known as Zoolatry, is a religious ritual where animals are considered as deities. It forms a part of many ancient religions like cow is worshiped in Hinduism as well as ancient Persia. It is believed that these animals represent deities and have divine characteristics. Animal worship is a very important part of the ancient Egypt religion. It is partially based on the fact that animals have qualities that humans do not possess at all or in lesser measure, such as power or speed, and which stir fear. In different parts of the world, animals are worshiped for different reasons. Here are top ten most commonly worshiped animals across the world:
In ancient Egypt pigs were considered as sacred to the god. Their god appears as a pig with erect bristles and who watched for storms, darkness, deserts and chaos. Even pigs were sacrificed in the name of the God. Greeks also practice the ritual of sacrificing pigs to their goddess Demeter. The goddess represented grain, fertility, purity and also cherishing youth, preserving marriages and greenery. According to Chinese zodiac pigs are one of the twelve auspicious animals. The Celts also worshiped a ‘god of swine’ named Moccus, after the prayer ceremony cooked pork was served as one of the rituals.
In Karnataka, India Serpent deities are worshiped. The worship of snakes is present in several old cultures and traditions. Especially in the Hindu culture Lord Shiva wears a Nag “Indian Cobra” around his neck as an ornament. Cobra’s is the most sacred among the entire snake in India. There is a special festival of snakes called Nag Panchami, where all worship snakes and their deities. It is a festival celebrated all over the India, peoples offer prayer, Milk and worship the snake. Not only in India, even in other parts of the Old World such as America serpents are worshiped. In south India live snakes are worshiped. The Egyptians worship a number of snake gods and in some of the Native American tribes snake is the god who give fair winds and cause thunderstorm.
According to Chinese myth and culture tigers are among one of the 12 zodiac animals. The Chinese art and martial art consider tiger as an earth symbol. For eastern Asia culture tiger is a symbol of royalty, fearlessness and anger. In china there is a suburbs named Kunming which is a major tourist attraction for tiger worship. Here the worship of tiger is a tourist attraction. In Hinduism tiger is associated with the Hindu god Shiva and Durga. In Nepal, a tiger festival is celebrated called as Bagh Jatra. In many parts of Vietnam, there is a tiger temple in every village. Tigers are always admired for their strength, ferocity and royalty. One can easily see tiger statutes at the entrance of temples and palaces. It is believed that they keep evil spirits away from entering those places.
In Hinduism cattle’s are considered to be holy, even Zoroastrianism, ancient Egyptian and Greek also consider them to be auspicious. Majorly Cow and buffalo are worshipped by people and the slaughter of an ox is seen as an offering to god. In south India, a Toda ritual is performed where in a year a bull calf is sacrificed and later eaten by the adult males. The Egyptian distinguishes bull by some redetermined traits. They celebrate their birthday every year and are mummified after their death and obscured in a tomb. Similar rituals are followed in Nile. In India cows are respected the most among all the animals and its products are magic for Indians. Cow is a symbol of wealth and drinking of cow urine is considered to bring good fortune and prosperity.
In Thailand people believe that a white elephant contain the soul of a dead person. In India, Lord Ganesha has the head of an elephant. During the festival called Alunam, the unmarried women worship elephants by dancing and singing songs. In certain cultures elephant figurines are used to display the importance. In Sumatran culture elephant statues were built as “seats of the souls”. The Culture of North Borneo holds a different significance at all. Wooden elephant figurines were placed at the top of bamboo pole once the tribe chief had collected a particular number of human heads. It is regarded as a symbol of honor. The elephant holds a special place in Hindu culture and tradition. There are temples in south India that train elephants for temple worship. No tourist to India should miss this sight of elephants worshiping at temples. In India elephants are a part of Hindu ethos and culture. During ancient times it was used as an instrument of war.
According to Chinese zodiac calendar monkeys are the ninth in the twelve-year cycle of animals. As per their belief next time the monkey will appear as a zodiac sign will be in year 2016. In Hinduism the monkey is seen as Hanuman. Hanuman is a prominent god figure. Even monkeys are worshiped in Togo and in French West Africa. The Buddhist believes that the monkey is an incarnation of Buddha. But some also believe that they are dishonest and ugly. The Chinese Buddhist uses a metaphor called “mind monkey” which means disturbed, impatient state of human mind. In some culture monkey is also seen as a Senseless Creature symbolizing greed. But in Japan monkeys are seen as teaching proverbial principle to “see, hear and speak no evil”.
The wolf holds a significant position in foundational mythologies of Eurasia and North America. The attribute of the wolf of a killer, dangerous, destructive makes it a warrior whereas on other hand these are traits of a devil. Among nomadic wolf holds great importance in their religions. In many cultures, wolves are identified with warrior. The Tlingit community god name means “wolf,” and they worship a wolf-head. The shamanic Turkic believes they are descendants of wolves. Both Zeus and Apollo are also associated with the wolf but there is little clarity about it. The most obvious example in western culture is the Rome’s foundation, and the use of wolves in imagery.
In Nepal and parts of India dogs carry a religious significance. Dogs are worshipped in a five day festival known as Toyhar festival. In Hinduism, dog is considered as a messenger to the god of demise. It is also believed that they are guard to the doors of Heaven. In Nepal 14th day in November is celebrated as Kukur toyhar, meaning dog’s day. On this day dogs are worshipped with holy dot, incense sticks and garland. The Nosarii tribe of western Asia also worships dogs. The Karang of Java believes that dogs are reflection of wood. They worship dogs after the loss of a family member and burn that after thousand days.
During ancient times in Syria, goats were covered with silver necklaces and left open out in the city on the king’s wedding. It is believed that they carry evils with them. Certain communities like Silenus and the Fauns had part of their bodies shaped like goat. In northern Europe a community Leszi, have goat’s horns, ears and legs. In Africa people have goat as their primary divinity. Even in Greece and Egypt goats are worshiped in goat and phallic form. According to Chinese Zodiac sign, people with goat sign are shy, aloof, introvert and creative.
Horse worship is mostly practiced by Turkish and Indo-European people. It is also believed that Poseidon, a water god, was formerly conceived in the appearance of a horse. The horse and the mule are holy to the Roman god. In Hinduism and Buddhism, a horse headed god named Hayagriva is worshipped. Gonds tribe in India also worships a horse, which is in the shape of a stone. Horses are also commonly worshipped in Europe. In Balkan culture, a bachelor person is wrapped with a horse to transfer the sexual power of horse to the individual.