Elephants are the largest land animals on the planet. Currently, three living species of these Goliaths are recognised, they are the African Bush Elephant, the African Forest Elephant, and the Asian Elephant. They are mostly found in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Their suitable habitats range from savannahs, forests, deserts, to marshes. World Elephant Day is celebrated each year on August 12. The day is dedicated to the preservation and protection of elephants. Let us look at the significance of elephants in our lives.

Nature and Elephants

Elephants help maintain forests and ecosystems for other species. With their giant build and shape, they can make pathways in dense forests which allows other animals to pass through. They can transport seeds and help in the growth of forests.

Elephants in Chinese culture

Elephants are believed to be a symbol of good luck and happiness in Chinese culture. In Feng Shui, these animals symbolise good luck, protection, wisdom, and fertility depending on the position they are depicted in. In Chinese mythology, the elephant was seen as a cosmic animal that represented the structure of the universe.

Elephants in African culture

In African cultures, the elephant is a symbol of strength and power. The animal is widely praised for its size, stamina, longevity, cooperative spirits, and loyalty. South Africa used elephant tusks in their coat of arms, which represent wisdom, strength, eternity, and moderation.

Elephants in Asian culture

In Asian cultures, elephants are admired because of their high intelligence and good memory. They also symbolise wisdom and royal power. In many countries, the elephant is also used as a symbol of political parties. Some countries also have emblems and flags that use elephant symbols. Various places are named after elephants as well.

Buddhism and elephants

Elephants in Buddhist traditions symbolise inner strength. Two images of elephants are hugely popular in the Buddhist tradition, the grey and the white elephant. While the grey elephant reflects a wild creature that runs amok and is the symbol of a cluttered mind, the white elephant is the symbol of the mind that has been trained to be strong and calm.

Christianity and elephants

Elephants are believed to be a symbol of patience, chastity, and temperance in Christianity. They are also depicted in various ancient artworks and are believed to represent Adam and Eve in their male and female forms. The Bestiaries, which contain information and stories about almost every animal thought to exist (even imaginary ones), suggest that there are many symbolic meanings to the elephant.  

Hinduism and elephants

A tradition of divinity and royalty is what elephants symbolize in the Hindu culture. It becomes a powerful symbol as one of the favourite gods, Ganesha is in the form of an elephant. Lord Ganesha is believed to be the remover of obstacles as well as the god of luck, protection, and fortune. In Indian mythology, elephants are associated with water and rain as God Indra, the god of thunder and rain rode a white elephant.

Also read: World Elephant Day 2021: Interesting facts about the giant

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