The Parasol

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The parasol is a traditional Indian symbol of both protection and royalty. The ability to protect oneself against inclement weather has always, in all cultures, been a status symbol. In Asian thought, the fact that it protected the bearer from the scorching heat of the sun was transferred into the religious sphere as a protection against the heat of defilements.Thus the coolness of its shade symbolizes protection from the heat of suffering, desire, and other spiritually harmful forces.

The Precious Parasol embodies notions of wealth or royalty, for one had to be rich enough to possess such an item, and further, to have someone carry it. It points to the “royal ease” and power experienced in the Buddhist life of detachment.The dome of the parasol is held aloft by a vertical handle, which is identified with the central axis upholding the world. It is carried above an important dignitary or the image of a deity, to indicate that the person or symbol below the parasol is in fact the center of the universe, and also its spiritual support.

Parasols seem to be especially important in processional rites, being like mobile temples. Thus, depictions of the Buddha often display an elaborate and large parasol above his head.The Precious Parasol symbolizes the beneficial activities of keeping beings from the harms of illness, harmful forces, obstacles and so forth. It also represents the enjoyment of a feast of benefit under its cool shade.