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Fish


Common NameFish, Machli (Hindi), Meen (Tamil), Matsya (Sanskrit)
Matsya avatara of Lord Vishnu


In religion and mythology

In His first avatara, Lord Vishnu took the form of a matsya (fish). Matsya is generally respresented with the upper torso of a man and the lower of a fish.

Many tribal and fishing communities use fish as totems. For example, the Mals of Midnapur and Manbhum (Hinduised tribe of Central India and W.Bengal) have penkal mach and sal mach as their totem.

In many parts of our country, fish as a food finds place in many religious cermonies / rituals including weddings and sraddha .

In several temples tanks fishes are protected, fed (usually with puffed rice) and venerated. For example, at the Kuleepini threetham in the Koodalma nikyam temple ( Irinjalakuda in Thrissur District of Kerala), Meenootal – feeding of fishes – is an important ritual.

Devotees feeding fishes at the Kapaleshwarar temple tank,Chennai


Indian scriptures often compares the form of one's eye to that of a beautiful fish. Goddess Meenakshi's name comes from the words Meen (meaning fish) and akshi (meaning eyes). It is believed that like a fish, Goddess Meenakshi's eyes are always open, watching over her devotees.

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