A shankh is the shell of a sea creature. According to Indian culture, the shankh symbolizes the whole universe. The conch is seen in the hands of Lord Mahavishnu or goddesses. A conch in shaped like a a pair of hands folded in prayer, the edge pointed like a thorn, the head in the shape of a fist and the whole body white in color. There are two main classifications of the shankh – the Valampiri shankh or the right handed conch shell and the Idampiri shankh or the left handed conch shell. Fisting your right hand and pointing the thumb forward will create the shape of a valampiri shankh. Although the right handed conch shell is said to bring wealth and prosperity, is it very hard and rare to find them. It is said to hold the presence of Lord Vishnu. Viewing it everyday and praying to it is very auspicious. Fisting your left hand and pointing the thumb forward will create the shape of an Idampiri shankh. This is said to hold the presence of Goddesses.
The significance of a conch shell in Hinduism, is one of purity, brilliance and auspiciousness. It symbolizes the sky, which forms the background of sounds. A conch shell is a necessity for Poojas at homes and temples. The conch shell creates a pure sound resonating with “Om”. The conch shell was also used in battle fields. The conch shell call of Krishna during the Mahabharatha battle is a famous example. Hold the shankh close to your ears and you can hear the sound of the ocean. Hinduism places such divine significance on the shankh. A long conch shell call is believed to be auspicious. Also the place where the conch shell is blown is said to be blessed with the presence of Goddess Mahalakshmi. The conch shell is frequently used for the making of pictures, statues and also for the preparation of medicines. We also tie conch shells to the necks of cows and buffaloes. In truth, the sound of a conch shell call is pranava (Om). A sound that existed before creation. A sound that brings the presence of Vishnu Lakshmi with it.