hindus always ring bells before entering the temple. as a child, i used to often visit the temples with my mother and ringing temple bells was one of my favorite activity. as a child, i used to jump and ring the bell with my full force. i always loved the sound which the bell makes.
the sound of temple bell is loud yet soothing and brings you in the present moment. the long and deep reverberation of bell sound last for few seconds and produce the subtle chant of Om mantra. Om is the most sacred mantra in hinduism and is part of most vedic mantras. it is the most scared sound in hinduism.
i have seen many people like ringing the temple bell. it is because it invokes positivity inside you. it makes you more relaxed, centered, focused and here-now (in the present moment).
the following mantra is chanted while ringing the bell – “Aagamaarthamtu devaanaam gamanaarthamtu rakshasaam, Kurve ghantaaravam tatra devataahvaahna lakshanam”
the meaning of mantra is “i ring this bell indicating the invocation of divinity, so that virtuous and noble forces enter (inside my heart or consciousness); and the demonic and evil forces, from within and without, depart (from me).”
main purpose of ringing bell in temple is:
to drive away negative forces inside you or around you and to attract the positivity and the positive forces inside you. it is believed that ringing of temple bells drives away the negative souls and attracts the positive entities. one of the reason you should visit temple is that it charges you with spiritual and positive energy. the design of temple is made in such a way that it is filled with maximum positive energy. most popular temples are made on places where earth magnetic lines are meeting or some divine play or a great religious event had happened.
ringing of bells creates a no-mind state (no thoughts) inside you. suddenly there is a blank in the mind for few moments. it gives you an opportunity to focus your attention on god. otherwise many thoughts occupy your mind all the time. it is difficult for you to stop the thinking at will. you take your office problems to your home and then in night to your bedroom. there must be a mechanism to stop these worldly thoughts while entering inside the temple, so that you can remember the god with peace, devotion and totality. so the bells are placed at the entrance of temple and also before temple sanctum. so that you can leave your worldly mind outside and only think about god while in the temple.
so one of the purpose of ringing temple bell is to disconnect you from the worldly thoughts so that you are ready from within to invoke the divinity inside you. ideally while ringing the bell you should remember the deity intensely. so that the vacuum (no-mind state) created by bell is filled with the thoughts of the deity. thats why most hindus take the name of god (like jai sri ram or har har mahadev) while ringing the bell. main thing is to bring your attention towards the god.
in Āgama [hindu scriptures] it is mentioned that bell should be made of pancha lauha (five metals) that are copper, silver, gold, brass (main metal in the bells) and iron. these 5 metals represent the pancha bhoota. the composition of these metals in the bell varies and that alters the sound little bit. another belief is that this composition of metals in the bells helps to kill the bacteria or germs around you and it also purifies your aura.
there are bells of different types and shapes. e.g. the bells meant for worshiping lord shiva will have a figure of lord nandi (every shiva temple must have nandi statue facing the lord shiva). while the bells meant for worship of lord vishnu or his avatars (rama, krishna, narasimha) will have a figure of garuda or sudarshana chakra or panchajanya shanka. at my home, i have the bell with hanuman figure. the sanskrit word for bells is ghanta.
during the aarti, the priest also ring the bell (ghanti) which is small in size and is held in hand. you can also keep this small bell at your home. apart from bells, blowing of conch (shankh) during aarti is considered auspicious.