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Why Do People Toss Coins Into a Lake or River or Fountain?

Our ancestors were quite thoughtful. Each custom is made has a logical purpose for it. One of the particular normal customs that is mainstream all through India, even in Europe and Africa, is tossing coins into the stream. It is a very common practice.


Religious Aspect

The ancient Indian culture is full of various rituals and traditions. Be it a festival, a marriage, and even in our day-to-day life, we perform many rituals. Our ancestors made those traditions and now they are merely getting passed from one generation to another. Without really revealing to them the purpose of any culture or custom, individuals are simply following it. Our ancestors were quite thoughtful. Each custom is made has a logical purpose for it. One of the particular normal customs that is mainstream all through India is tossing coins into the stream. It is a very common practice. So, let's begin.

  • Rivers or Water resources of any kind, in general, are considered as Gods or Goddesses in Hinduism - So Hindus worship Nature, Trees, Forests, Sun, Moon, Wind, Fire, Earth, Sky, idols, Mountains, etc.
  • Since Rivers give us Water for various Human activities like Drinking, Bathing, Washing, cleaning, cooking, etc, they also provide Water for Domestic as well as Wild Animals and to Irrigate crops and Forests without any discrimination.
  • While doing worship to The Rivers or Water resources, The Hindus not only offer Fruits, Flowers, Coconuts, but also Betel leaves, areca nuts, and "Kumkum", Turmeric, etc into the waterways as a sign of Respect for The Female gods as water.
  • At places where a River originates from, there will be a Historic Temple constructed and people will throng those areas when the Water flow increases (Called as Birthday of that particular River in the Hindu calendar).
  • Since Gods in Hinduism are entitled to be given Money as an offering, people throw coins as a small or token offering.
  • In Pre-Independent India, we also had coins made up of Gold and Silver, so they had a higher value and they would be collected by Priests, Fishermen, and locals who would find them regularly.
  • In remote villages and in downstream areas these rivers not only carry minerals and sediments, but they also carried away these coins (whether they had a high value or not) and during the times of dry seasons like Summer, when the rivers became dry their banks would be teeming with coins. So, if the locals did not find water, they could take this money and arrange for digging the river bed to find underground water beneath the fine sand. They would use that underground water for drinking purposes during Times of drought and famine.
  • Several Gold & Silver coins along with other Metal compositions of Historical importance have also been unearthed from Indian River beds and they make a very interesting study if they have an Antique value.
  • Gold deposits like small lumps of Gold (Nugget/s) and Pearls have also surfaced from Rivers and Freshwater oysters.
  • Crystals and precious or semi-precious Stones are also obtained in some parts of India along the course of a river and they are used for jewelry making purposes or in handicrafts.
  • The Indian Rivers on their either banks had several ancient civilizations and dynasties built nearby, as they regularly needed a constant supply of water for their subjects or residents.
  • So, in the olden ages, maybe their intention of dropping a coin into a river or a source of water, was to probably show that water is precious and it is as important as money and wealth for survival. Water is the elixir of life and nobody can live without water.
  • While traveling through a road or traveling by train, most of us must have seen people throwing coins in the holy river, or maybe you also have thrown some. It has become a tradition and people are following it for ages. Every time, one crosses a bridge over a holy river, he or she throws a coin in it. Furthermore, if you ask them the explanation for this custom, more than 95 percent of the individuals will answer it brings riches and thriving. In Hinduism, rivers and water sources are identical to Gods and Goddesses. Henceforth, individuals love nature, trees, mountains, waterways, lakes, and so on.
  • People also believe that by offering the coin to Holy rivers like Ganges, Yamuna, or Narmada, one gets abundant blessings. Tossing coins into the heavenly waterways is likewise emblematic of bringing one best of luck and fortune. Consequently, individuals (generally Hindus) join their hands, bow their heads, contact the coin to their brow and toss it into the sacred streams to welcome the best of luck and appeal to them.
  • Moreover, dropping the coins in the river washes out one's sins is also a belief of the people. And blesses one with a regret-free life. Another belief that is associated with it is that leaving something valuable in the rivers can make one's dreams turn into reality.

Scientific Aspect behind throwing coins

Emerged around a thousand years ago, the ritual of throwing coins into the holy river has scientific aspects too. Unlike today, most of the currency was of copper or other valuable metals in ancient times. Copper is vital for the human body. It helps in digestion and our body can't combine copper. Hence, it was important to get the supply for absorption from the outside. Copper is a crucial nutrient for the body. It helps in keeping up sound bones, nerves, veins, and resistant capacity. Alongside iron, it empowers the development of red platelets.

Also, placing copper coins underneath the water helped in killing harmful bacteria and thus taking care of human health. In the earlier days, there were no water purifiers. Subsequently, waterways and tanks were the simple wellsprings of drinking water. Hence, throwing coins into the river was a way of ensuring that our body gets sufficient copper on a day-to-day basis. Not does its significance stop here, the copper additionally helped in settling the residue particles at the base. This made the drinking water available at the top and it could be easily used for daily purposes. Even in modern times, many Indian and Nepalese families store water in copper vessels. Copper is said to be in use thousands of years back in time.

Copper, the chemical element symbol Cu, is said to be rich in minerals. Copper is a good electrical conductor. Copper is good for certain body organs, being active overall, etc. Copper adjusts the body and mental liveliness, insusceptible framework, and so forth. Copper is a must need nutrient by the human body, including the brain-mind. It is said to disintegrate microorganisms and fix sicknesses. Copper kills certain bacteria.

As per an Ayurveda perusing, copper is said to refine and improve water. This, in turn, is good for the human body and mind. The tossing of coins in the stream was maybe acceptable to additionally enhance the waterway water.

However, the currency today is made of steel and paper, unlike the earlier days. They have no major benefit for the human body. But considered as a tradition, throwing coins in the river is still practiced.

Numerous Indians and Nepalese accept that tossing coins in the waterway is favorable and sacrosanct. Throwing coins in the river is considered to bring good luck. The tossing of coins in the waterway following might be followed back to antiquated occasions. It could be connected to both Astrology cures and otherworldliness. Some modern-day natives may even believe that throwing coins in the river may have some religious significance. However, there can be an old scientific or logical reason behind it.


Myth in Europe and Africa

In ancient Europe and Africa, tribes were on a constant hunt for potable drinking water. They finally discovered a suitable watering hole that was considered to be a gift from God.

As per the custom in early times, providing an offering to the Gods was a very common practice. The earliest version of making a wish was to toss a coin in the well by the people of the tribe while sending up a prayer.

Kids grow up dropping coins into wellsprings and they become adjusted at a youthful age to cause a wish as they to do it. In most cases, even the parents do not have any idea as to why they have this tradition – it's just something they have followed when they were young.

As per the report of fountain Money Fountain in 2006 about 3 million pounds per year was being thrown into the wishing well by the tourist. One of the famous wells that prove this theory of coins offerings to well is the Coven Tina well in Northumberland County in the United Kingdom. This well was dedicated to Coven Tina, the Romano-British Goddess of Well and Springs. Researchers revealed more than 16,000 coins from various times of the Roman Empire after the all-around was found. This proves that coins were used to honor the Gods.

In modern times, the common practice of tossing coins in the water for a wish has survived for hundreds of years. One of the most popular wishing fountains in the world is the Trevi Fountain in Rome. It is believed that that drinking water from the fountain, or tossing a coin in the fountain would provide you with good health.

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The same tradition of throwing coins into a river has been followed today but with the motive of wish fulfillment resulting in water pollution. Nowadays, the composition of coins (Indian coins) is 83% iron/ steel and 17 % chromium. Chromium is one of the most toxic metals that contaminate water and result in many diseases. In European and African countries too, coins are made out of a variety of metals such as nickel, manganese, or zinc that may pollute the water everywhere as a result of the water cycle.

Don't you think that we all are bound with some responsibilities about

1. Preventing the loss of worldwide currencies (wherever this ritual is being followed) in the name of faith and

2. Stop contamination of water for our better life.

3. We all need to educate everyone about the harmful effect of throwing coins into water bodies.

Some sources:





This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Tulii Banerjee


Tulii Banerjee (author) from Kolkata on February 16, 2021:

Yes, you said it right. It indeed would be very interesting to find out. Thank you so much Ashutosh for reading and sharing your thoughts.

Ashutosh Joshi from New Delhi, India on February 16, 2021:

It would be interesting to find out where or how this custom originated. Often there isn't a sound reasoning. I do agree with the closing remark though. The problem in overpopulated countries like our's is the number and the impact. But it can get worst, like people throwing coins into plane engines for a safe journey.

Tulii Banerjee (author) from Kolkata on February 16, 2021:

I am glad that you liked it Ravi and many thanks for sharing your wonderful thoughts, I agree with you. Thanks a lot. Appreciate your thoughts and comment.

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on February 15, 2021:

Interesting article Tuli. One unique thing is that the practice of throwing coins is found in nearly every civilization from the Greeks, to the Romans and even the Cretans.

The question is, how did it spread across the world? Was every civilization created from one master civilization that was destroyed and lost in the annals of history ? Food for thought.

Thanks for sharing this article.

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