Hindu Goddess Sri Bali /Cybele in Rome and Greece


Picture shows Cybele accompanied by Goddess of Victory in a chariot drawn by lions. Sun is personified as Helios. An attendant in barefoot holds a parasol. Silver plate found in Afganistan

Cybele worshipped in Europe was the Hindu goddess Sri Bali. Keralites carry Sri (Bhutha) Bali in all the festivals. They call it Seeveli. Sri Bali got corrupted in to Seeveli and Cybele. Read the full article for more interesting facts. We find Cybele’s statues from Afghanistan to Greece.

Cybele is a mother goddess. She was worshipped in Greece and Rome. Scholars say that Cybele originated in North Western Turkey (Phyrgia). Turkey was ruled by the Hindus at one time. Hittites and Mittani kings were Hindus. They worshipped Vedic Gods and knew Sanskrit. The oldest inscriptions with Sanskrit words (Horse Training Manual by Kikkuli) were discovered in Turkey and Syria. One of the kings that ruled this area was Thusratta (Dasaratha). His letters were discovered in Egypt. (Please see my earlier posts for full details).

Worship of Cybele (also written Kybele) began in 1500 BC and ended in 400 AD when Christianity spread to Europe. She was worshipped as mountain goddess in the beginning. This explains the popularity of Seeveli in mountainous Kerala (India).

Cybele is shown with umbrella on a chariot. This is the main clue to identify it with Hindu gods. Any king or god shown with umbrella is influenced by Indian culture. Indians invented the umbrella. When one did a big Yaga  he was presented with a white umbrella. From Kalidasa to Sangam Tamil literature we read about white umbrella as the symbol of glory. Showing umbrella is one of the Sixteen Upacharams in Hindu puja. Even the Vamana Avatar was shown with an umbrella, again Kerala type!

Umbrellas spread to all parts of the world from India. We have got enough proof for it in our ancient literature. Snake hood was the umbrella for Krishna when he was a baby.

All Kerala festivals show beautiful umbrellas on decorated the elephants. One of the elephants carries the Sri Bhutha Bali (Seeveli). This has led to the worship of Cybele, the mother goddess.



Picture of  Thrissur Seeveli

SRI is mother, BALI is offering. Before and during any big festival, offering bali is an important ritual. There are elaborate instructions about what to offer to which god on what day in the Agama Shastras.

Greeks identified Cybele with the goddess Rhea and the Romans identified her with Magna Mater (Great Mother). In the beginning this ritual must have started with some sacrifice to the Mother Goddess. That is why it is called SRI bali. Later it spread to local gods and goddesses. Now in Kerala the Sri Bali is in same shape, but with different deities in different areas/temples.

Even modern encyclopaedias describe Cybele as one of the most important ASIAN mother goddesses. In 204 BC, Cybele carved in a black stone was taken to Rome from Turkey. Hindu statues of Kali are also in black stone (Kali means black). She was depicted riding in a chariot drawn by panthers or lions accompanied by frenzied dancers. This is also similar to Kerala where the possessed people dance and forecast future events (known as Velichapadu). A more chronological study of this deity will show us the movement and development of this Hindu deity.


Bali or Offerings for Hindu Gods

During ten day or 13 day temple festival, different offerings are given to different gods. In the temples only one instrument will be played with the person who offers Bali. There is a stone called Bali Peetam in most of the temples. A few examples of Bali are given below:

Picture of Guruvayur Seeveli


First Day for Lord Ganesh: Modhakam, Idli, Pulses, Flour, Jaggery

Second Day for Lord Brahma: Payasam, Turmeric powder, Lotus flower and fried rice (Pori)

Third Day for Bhuthas: Banana fruit mixed with melted butter, Sesame seed Rice

Fourth Day for Gandharvas: Turmeric powder, Coconut and sesame seed rice

Fifth Day for Indra: Indravalli root with ghee,millet

Sixth Day for Rishis/Seers: Jack fruit with Ghee and Bamboo rice

Seventh Day for Lakshmi: Sweet Pongal (rice) and fruits

Eighth Day for Rakshasas( demons) Blackgram rice with ghee (melted butter)

Ninth Day for Shiva: Curd Rice (Yogurt), Root Flour, Fried rice, Flowers

Tenth Day for Vishnu: Red colour rice, Appam (sweet cake),Sesame powder

Some Agamas give thirteen day offerings including for Nagas, Loka palaks etc.


Daily Pujas also offer balis to different devatas (angels). This will give some idea about Balis. It is part and parcel of Hindu Rituals.

Even meat is offered to Grama devatas. In Madurai, goddesses like Sellaththamman are offered meat offerings. In the middle of the night they throw the meat balls for the goddess. A detailed study of different Balis to different Devatas may throw interesting information about our ancient customs.

Picture of Cybele at Attis Relief.

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