By Swami Harshananda
Dhvaja literally means ‘that which stands tall’.
‘Dhvaja’ is a flag or a banner fixed on a post and is a common feature in the temples. The post is called ‘dhvajastambha’ and the flag itself is a metallic plate either made of copper or brass.The dhvajas made of cloth are hoisted in temples temporarily on special occasions like brahmotsava and rathotsava. Some of the saṁnyāsins also carry a dhvaja on their staffs.
Symbols on Dhvaja
Dhvaja contains the figure of the vāhana (carrier mount) of the main deity in the temple. For instance:
- If it is a temple of Śiva, the figure on the banner will be that of a bull (Nandi).
- If it is a temple of Devī, the figure on the banner will be that of a lion.
- If it is a temple of Viṣṇu, the figure on the banner will be that of a Garuḍa (eagle).
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore