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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Salinadi

Thursday, December 31, 2009


Fasting women devotees congregate on the banks of the Salinadi River on northwestern fringe of the capital to start the month-long worshipping of Swasthani on Sunday.

Most of the Nepalese Hindu households have a tradition of reading out the Hindu scripture called Swosthani beginning on the full moon day called Milla-punhi (mid- January) in the bright fortnight of the month called Poush (mid-January) and ending on the next full moon day called See-punhi (mid-February) in the month of Magha in the Vikram calendar. This year, it starts on January 22.





Nepalis believe that reading out and listening to the Hindu scripture called Swosthani help them in keeping away evil spirits and inauspicious things from their home. Some women take a Swosthani brata (a day fast) for the whole month. They believe that such undertakings please Goddess Swosthani, and she meets their wishes. Goddess Parvati, believed to be another form of Goddess Swosthani, had undertaken such religious worship to achieve her goal of receiving Lord Shiva as her spouse.

People dedicate this auspicious month of Magha to Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati. They spend the whole month on in service of and in praise of this divine couple. A month long religious fair is held at the river called Salinadi in Sankhu about 20km northeast of Kathmandu. People venerate Goddess Swosthani and demigoddess Chandrawoti who suffered the consequences of the insult she had inflicted on Goddess Swosthani. Later on, Chandrawoti undertook the Swosthani brata for a month to atone for the sin and she got relief from her suffering and became a demigoddess.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Yomari Punhi

Friday, December 4, 2009




Yomari Punhi -meaning full moon of yomari-one of the popular Newar festivals is observed every year during the full moon of December.A yomari is a confection of rice-flour (from the new harvest)dough shaped like fig and filled with brown cane sugar and sesame seeds, which is then steamed. This delicacy is the chief item on the menu during the post-harvest celebration of Yomari Punhi. On this full moon day, people of the Kathmandu Valley offer worship to Annapurna, the goddess of grains, for the rice harvest. Groups of kids go neighborhood to beg yomari cakes from housewives in the evening. Sacred masked dances are performed in the villages of Hari Siddhi and Thecho at the southern end of the Valley to mark the festival.





The Newars, upon munching a mouthful of yomari, a sweet dish, await the end of their four days of devotion of god, following which they will be blessed with wealth, according to their belief. The people prepare yomaris, in the form of gods and goddesses such as Kumar, Ganesh, Laxmi and Kuber. In keeping with the culture, parents bless children from two to twelve years who are then offered yomaris. The children on the other hand perform the customary song and dance and ask for food and other gifts from the elders during the festival.

The festival is said to have started from panchal nagar(present day Panauti). Myth has it that Suchandra and Krita, a married couple, first experimented with fresh yield of rice from their field. And what took shape turned out came to be known as yomari. The new delicacy was eventually distributed among the villagers. As the food was liked by all, the bread was named yomari, which literally means 'tasty bread'. The myth further states that on the same day the couple offered the god of wealth, Kuber, the new delicacy, who was passing by in a disguise. Following this Kuber disclosed , his real identity and blessed the couple with wealth. He also declared that whoever will prepare yomari in the form of gods and goddesses on the full moon of December and observe four days of devotion to god, will get rid of poverty. The festival is celebrated on the second day when prayers are offered during which the yomaris are stored and not eaten on that very day. On the fourth and the final day the people belonging to the Newar community consume the sweet bread as a gift from gods and this practise also marks the end of the festival.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Melamchi Kathmandu Fast-Track

Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Melamchi is a village in Sindhupalchok District in the Bagmati Zone of central Nepal. At the time of the 1991 Nepal census it had a population of 3836 and had 710 houses in the village.

Melamchi is ony 32 Km far from sankhu. So if road are good then it only takes 1 hour. So that is also we can say fast tract to Kathmandu- melamchi. In past the way to Melamchi goes from Banepa. If we have to go to Melamchi then it will take whole day. But now new road although it is not good but we can reach to melamchi within 2 hours.


Chauki Bhanjyang- Pauwa

Sankhu is beautiful. It is a truth. Sankhu is rich in culture and resources.  This ancient City was a trade rute for tibet. It has its own rules and regulation. It was a country with autonomas. It was developed and life standard of sankhu was not backward than Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur in Lichhavi Rhyme. But after that period the sankhu remained same. Nothing really changed. From Sankhu NagarKot is only 12 Km far. Nagarkot is famous for sunrise view and Himalayas. Every year there are lots of people come to Nagarkot. ChaukiBhanjyang is only 8 Km far from Sankhu. From this place also we can see Himalayas.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nepal Sambat 1130 begins

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nepal Sambat (NS) 1130 has begun, Monday. Nepalis, particularly of the Newar community, are observing the beginning of the new year with various programmes.


A rally was organised from Basantapur at 7 am, this morning to mark the coming of the new year. Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal will address the the gathering to be organised after the rally.The participants of the rally also demanded NS be used for the national calendar. Last year, the erstwhile UCPN (Maoist) -led government had pledged it would announce the use of NS officially for national calendar.

However, no decision has been taken to this effect till date.

President Ram Baran Yadav, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala, Rastriya Janashakti Party chairman Surya Bahadur Thapa and other leaders have issued New Year messages wishing all Nepalis a happy and prosperous year ahead.

NS was started by Shankhadhar Shakhwa 1130 years ago by freeing the poor peasants of Thimi from the credit they owed to landlords.
It was used for national calendar till NS 888 until the erstwhile government decided to use the Bikram era in 1960 BS.

People of Newar community worship their bodies on the first day of the new year, a rite known as 'Mha Puja


Nepal Sambat


Nepal Sambat (Nepal Bhasa: नेपाल सम्बत) is the national lunar calendar of Nepal.  It was used whole over Nepal in Medieval Nepal and early part of modern Nepal till Chandra Sumsher decided to remove it in BS 1960.  It was started in 880 AD during the reign of King Raghav Dev to commemorate the pay back of all the debts of Nepalese people by a Nepalese called Sankhadhar Sakhwa. Local legend has it that he raised the funds through alchemy, turning the sand of the Bagmati river to gold dust. Gregorian calendar is also widely used due to it international acceptance and Nepal Sambat has its own special relevance for Newars living in Nepal. Nepal Sambat is one among few of the native calendars to Nepal.Most of others either passed over the time or only maintain existence in the religious calendars called Patro.

Structure


Nepal Samvat , a lunar calendar, is a variant of "saka sambat" a Hindu calendar with main difference being, Nepal sambat lags saka sambat by 802 years. It consists of 354 days per year due to the fact lunar month has 29 or 30 days based on the movement of the moon. So it necessitates a month adhik mas to be added every third year. This calendar came into being and into official use during the reign of king Raghabdev, immediately after the completion of the Saka Samvat 802 (on 20 October 879 AD). The year 804 was approaching within a year and according to legend, his decision was guided by his fear of number 804, that some people still believe, brings misfortune. People with traditional belief still try to escape with number 8 that comes together with 12 (in Nepali -ath barha). Doing math correctly,804 adds up to 12 and 804 means 8 along with 12.



Nepal Samvat is a unique calendar in the sense,all other calendars are named after some rulers or religious leaders. Nepal Samvat is the only calendar which is named after a country. This calendar is said to have been introduced by a common subject Shankhadhar Sakhwa by clearing on his own all debts owing to the state by the then subjects of Nepal. This calendar was in continuous official use Nepal (and not just in Kathmandu valley as is widely thought) and had significant influence to be mentioned in the documents of Tibet, China, and kingdoms of northern India. After the unification of Nepal, under the Shah rulers, the calendar was in use as is evident by Sugauli Treaty. In 1903 AD, Rana prime minister Chandra Shamsher replaced Nepal Samvat with the Bikram Samvat, a Lunisolar calendar, which is in use as the official calendar in Nepal till date. Since the founder of the Nepal Samvat, Sankhadhar Sakhwa has been recognized as a national hero of Nepal. Nepalese people especially, inside Kathmandu Valley,are also demanding to preserve as well as reintroduce the Nepal Samvat as Nepal's official calendar.


Year 2000 AD refers to year 1120 in Nepal Sambat, or 2057 in the official Bikram Sambat calendar.


This calendar was widely used in official use during the Malla period in Kathmandu valley. After the unification of Nepal, Saka sambat took ground and later on, during the premiership of Chandra SJBR Bikram Sambat were recognized for official use. This calendar, Nepal sambat, is being revived, especially in Kathmandu valley, over the last 3 decades. Moreover, the calendar was widely used by Newars for cultural and religious purpose inside the Kathmandu because of its relation with festivals Jatra that are celebrated in Valley


Lumbini- birth place of Bhddha

Lord Buddha, the symbol of peace and the light of Asia was born here in Lumbini in 623 B.C.. The main attraction of Lumbini, the sacred garden is spread over 2.36 sq. km., which possesses all the treasures of historic areas. The Ashokan Pillar, carrying an inscription identifying the holy site as the birthplace, is situated in the sacred garden, next to Ashokan pillar is the Mayadevi temple, which houses a base relief depicting the nativity sculpture. In 1996 excavations have discovered a piece of a stone that indicated the exact spot of birth of lord Buddha, Puskarni - the Sacred pool, where queen Mayadevi, the lord Buddha's mother took a holy bath before the birth, lies to the south of the pillar. As a global initiative to promote Lumbini as center for world peace, many countries have constructed temples, monasteries and stupas in the International Monastic Zone.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dashain's Tika and Jamara

Tuesday, September 29, 2009
On the seventh day, Fulpaati, the town of Gorkha sends an offering of flowers to Kathmandu. A band associated with the army also plays its music and goes through the old core of Kathmandu.


The eighth day, Asthami, is the day of sacrifices. Goddess temples all over the Kathmandu Valley receive sacrifices, ranging from goats and buffaloes to ducks and chickens. Blood, symbolic for its fertility, is offered to the goddesses. This meat is taken home and cooked as "prasad", or food blest by divinity. This food is offered, in tiny leaf plates, to the household gods, then distributed amongst the family. Eating this food is thought to be auspicious.

Sacrifices continue on Navami, the ninth day. Families will visit various temples around the Kathmandu Valley. On the tenth day, "Dashami," a mixture of rice, yogurt and vermillion will be prepared by the women. This preparation is known as "tika". Elders put this on the forehead of younger relatives to bless them with fertility and abundance in the upcoming year. The red also symbolizes the blood that ties the family together. Elders will give "dakshina", or a small amount of money, to younger relatives at this time. The tika continues for five days, during which time people also gather to play cards around massive amounts of food and drink.

In several parts of Nepal, Dashain is the only time of the year when people receive a set of new clothing. Likewise, in poorer families, the animal sacrifice was eagerly anticipated since it might be the only animal protein the family would eat all year. This may be true in certain parts of Nepal where food is in low supply, but is less so in the cities. In general, the tradition of sacrifice is lessening with the easy availability of meat for daily consumption, and with the influences of Vaishnav Hindus (who are vegetarian).

In recent times, Dashain has become commercialized, with industries sponsoring events around the festival to sell goods.
Dashain this year falls on September 28, 2009.


Dashain

Dashain (दशैं) is the 10-day national festival of Nepal, and a state festival of Indian states of Sikkim and the Darjeeling district of West Bengal. It is also a national holiday in Bhutan. Now it is celebrated all around the world by the Nepalese diaspora. The festival falls around September-October, after the rice harvest. This festival is known for emphasis on family gatherings, as well as on a renewal of community ties. People will return from all parts of the world, as well as different parts of the country, to celebrate together.

The festival is a blend of Hindu Tantrik and animistic harvest festival traditions. On the first day, called Ghatasthapana, the "Dashain Ghar", or special worship room, is set up—this room is used to worship the Astha-Matrikas (the 8 tantrik goddesses) as well as the Nava Durgas (the 9 durga goddesses), to whom the festival is consecrated. Married women will say the mantras for the next fifteen days, and guard the goddesses. Barley is sowed on big earthern pots which have a coating of cow dung. These seeds will sprout in ten days. The sprouts, which symbolize a good harvest, will be decoratively placed on the heads of family members later on in the festival as a blessing.



Tika (In red color) and Jamara (green color) used in Dashain.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Stairway to Bajrayogini- Sankhu

Friday, September 25, 2009
Stairway to Bajrayogini Temple- Sankhu




This stairway is in Sankhu. Last stairway to Bajrayogini. As Bajrayogini is on hill everyone has to climb through stairway from sankhu. Among lots of stairway this one is the last one. Which contains 108 steps.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Evergreen Farewell

Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Evergreen Higher Secondary School is not a new name for the people of Sankhu and surrounding. This is a private school which promises to give better education to the people Sankhu and surrounding. Today on the occation of Great Nepali festival Dashain this school organised a programme. The farewell and Felicitaion Ceremony to +2  and Greeting exchange and welcome programme to new comers grade 11. The programme was really fabulous. We all can see the effort of School team. All are really  excellent. All the teachers, staff and students showed their effort.



Everyone can sense their effort. We all need to wish them on the auspicous occation of Dashin. As they are doing something which really help to boost the education level of the people of sankhu and surrounding. That effort definately will bring the positive result to give better education in this place.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

History of Newar People

Saturday, September 19, 2009
History (इतिहास)
The different divisions of Newars had different historical developments before their arrival in the Kathmandu valley. The common identity of Newar was formed after their arrival to the valley. Until the unification of Nepal, with the possible exception of the Muslims under Gayasuddin who attacked and destroyed many parts of the valley, all people who had inhabited the valley at any point of time were either Newar or were progenitors of Newar. So, the history of Newar correlates to a great magnitude to the history of Kathmandu valley prior to the Unification of Nepal.

The earliest known history of Newar and Kathmandu valley were recorded in the form of mythical scriptures. One of such texts which even accounts the creation of the valley is Swayambhu Purana.
Swayambhu Purana
Swayambhu Purana is a Buddhist scripture about the origin and development of Kathmandu valley. Swayambhu Purana gives detail of all the Buddhas who came to Kathmandu..... According to Swayambhu Purana, the Kathmandu valley was a giant lake called Nagdaha until the Bodhisattva Manjushree, with the aid of a holy sword called Chandrahrasa, cut open a part of southern hill of Kachchhapala and then cut open Gokarna daha and drained the giant lake, allowing humans to settle the valley land. This apocryphal legend is supported by some geological evidence of an ancient lakebed and it provides an explanation for the high fertility of Kathmandu valley soil. According to Swayambhu Purana, Manjushree then established a city called Manjupattan (Sanskrit: land established by Manjushree), now called Manjipa, where he crowned Dharmakara as the king of the land. A shrine dedicated to Manjushree is still present in Majipa.

No recorded historical document has been found after this era till the advent of Gopal era. A genealogy of emperors is recorded in a book called Gopal Raj Banshawali. According to this manuscript, Gopals were followed by Mahispals, and Kirats before Licchavis entered from south. Some claim Buddha to have visited Nepal during the reign of Kirat emperor Jitedasti.

The Licchavi Licchavi (लिच्छवी )

Licchavi was an ancient republic which existed in what is now Bihar state of India, since the birth of Mahavira , and later a kingdom in Nepal which existed in the Kathmandu Valley from approximately 400 A.D to 750 A.D....dynasty ruled for at least 600 years, followed by the Malla dynasty in 12th century AD. Nepal Bhasa script is estimated to be at least 1200 years old. Nepal Bhasa inscriptions in an ancient manuscript, Nidan, from 901 AD and on a stone tablet from 1173 AD in the courtyard of Bajrayogini Temple.

Bajrayogini Temple
Bajrayogini Temple is a famous Tantrik temple of Kathmandu valley. It is also well known as Bodhisattva's temple.A very famous temple of Nepal of Bajrayogini situated in Sankhu, Kathmandu is supposed to have the greatest power of blessings....at Sankhu

Sankhu (सांखू)
Sankhu is a Village Development Committee in Kathmandu District, Nepal in the Bagmati Zone of central Nepal. At the time of the 1991 Nepal census it had a population of 2097 residing in 353 individual households...., attest to the deep roots of Newar culture in the Kathmandu

Kathmandu
Kathmandu is the Capital and the largest metropolis city of Nepal. The city is situated in Kathmandu Valley that also contains two other cities - Patan, Nepal and Bhaktapur....valley.



Newar reign over the valley and their sovereignty and influence over neighboring territories ended approximately 250 years ago with the conquest of the Kathmandu

Kathmandu
Kathmandu is the Capital and the largest metropolis city of Nepal. The city is situated in Kathmandu Valley that also contains two other cities - Patan, Nepal and Bhaktapur....valley in 1769 by the Gorkhali Shah dynasty founded by Prithvi Narayan Shah

Prithvi Narayan Shah
Prithvi Narayan Shah, King of Nepal was a Nepali nobleman. He was the ninth generation descendant of Dravya Shah , the founder of the ruling house of Prithbinarayan..... Newars were engaged in business between Tibet and Moguls in India. So, to affect the Mogul empire's treasury, British East India Company supplied weapons and advice to Prithvi Narayan Shah who in return would conquer kathmandu valley and put an end to the trade between Tibet and Moguls of India. Systematic brutal suppression of newar people was pursued for generations during early shah dynasty rule in order to discourage newar people from any political aspiration.7

The Newar maintain a highly literate culture and their members are prominent in every sphere, from agriculture, business, education and government administration to medicine, law, religion, architecture, fine art, and literature. There is a wide acceptance of the fact that Newar architects may have been responsible for developing Asia's hallmark multi-tiered pagoda

Pagoda
A pagoda is the general term in the English language for a tiered tower with multiple eaves common in China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and other parts of Asia....architecture. Newar devotional pauba (and thanka) painting, sculpture and metal craftsmanship are world-renowned for their exquisite beauty. The fine temples and palaces of Kathmandu

Kathmandu
Kathmandu is the Capital and the largest metropolis city of Nepal. The city is situated in Kathmandu Valley that also contains two other cities - Patan, Nepal and Bhaktapur....

, Patan and BhaktapurBhaktapur

Bhaktapur , also Bhadgaon or Khwopa is an ancient Newar town in the east corner of the Kathmandu valley, Nepal. It is located in Bhaktapur District in the Bagmati Zone....

are largely the product of Newar architects, artisans, and sculptors. Now however the enterprising Newars are spread across Nepal, Bhutan, State of Sikkim and the District of Darjeeling in India.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

VALLEY DESTINATIONS- Sankhu- Shankharapur

Thursday, September 17, 2009
Sankhu. Sankhu is a sleepy town beneath the Gum Bihar religious complex. Within the complex is the temple of Bajra Yogini built in the 17th century. The area has been an important religious site since the 4th century and has excellent woods and bird-life as well as charming monkeys and pigeons in the temple area. Visitors may wish to bike up to Nagarkot and come down biking to Sankhu.

The ten Avatars-HIndu

The scriptures speak of the 10 Avatars of Vishnu – different incarnations that take the form of divine intervention provided by Vishnu during the various stages of human evolution. The “dasavatara” (ten avatars) is meant to re-establish dharma or righteousness and destroy tyranny and injustice on earth.
The ten Avatars are:
1. Matsya (the fish)
2. Koorma (the tortoise)
3. Varaha (the boar)
4. Narasimha (the human-lion)
5. Vamana (the dwarf)
6. Parasurama (the angry man, Rama with an axe)
7. Lord Rama (the perfect man, king of Ayodha)
8. Lord Krishna (the divine statesman)
9. Balarama (elder brother of Krishna)
10. Kalki (the mighty worrior)
The last Avatar is yet to appear, and in many versions of the mythology, the ninth incarnation is mentioned as Lord Buddha.
A Cosmological Necessity
The legend of the Avatar, like all myths, is prophetic, says Cosmologist and Astrologer Robert E Wilkinson. According to him: "It is not a mere allegory but an archetypal story describing the incarnations or emanations of living and conscious evolutionary forces. The appearance of the Avatars is also not a random event but a cosmological necessity. The periodic manifestation of the Avatars is determined by their inherent association with the 'Time-Spirit.' They take birth at particular points in the cosmic cycle which correspond to the earth's passage through the zodiacal ages as described in the Rig Veda."
Establishing Order on Earth
In his “Myth=Mithya: A Handbook of Hindu Mythology,” Dr Devdutt Pattanaik, one of India’s most popular mythologists, writes about the Avatars of Vishnu: “Every time dharma is threatened Vishnu mounts his eagle, the mighty Garuda, and comes to earth ready to do battle. The descents of Vishnu from Vaikuntha to earth are his avatars or incarnations. The form in each descent is different because the demands of the world each time are different. The different avatars thus reinforce the idea that rules and regulations that maintain order are not static by nature. They are forged when the demands of desire clash with the quest for order. As man's understanding of the world changes, desires change and so do concepts of order. Rules have to therefore constantly adapt themselves. Social stability must not be compromised, yet new ideas must be respected. Vishnu's descents are not just about reestablishing order. It is also about redefining them."
Role of the Goddess
Dr Pattnaik adds: "Each avatar of Vishnu involves a crisis involving the Goddess. Vishnu takes the form of a turtle to help the Devas churn Lakshmi out, the form of a boar to rescue the earth that have been dragged under the sea, the form of Rama when Sita is abducted and the form of Krishna to help Draupadi. Thus the Goddess is the embodiment of nature and culture. She is the kingdom and Vishnu is the king. She is Bhoodevi and he is Shripati. Both validate each other, she by giving him powers of kingship and he by defending her."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Heritage Conservation Projects

Monday, September 14, 2009
Sankhu as an ancient town consists numerous historical monuments. In the past, wealthy individuals, religious groups or families used to build such monuments to obtain religious merits. However, as they lost the sources of income these monuments are now left without maintenance, so many of them are in dilapidated condition. Most recently, the NGOS working in sankhu and  INGO from different countries  are taking responsibility of conservation of heritage of the town. The NGOS and INGOS are a non-government organisation, the main aims of these INGOS and  NGOS are to enhance rural development through self-awareness among the people of the community and to activate them to put collective efforts into socio-economic development, environmental protection, human resource development and heritage conservation. It assists in improving situation of women by encouraging their participation in all its activities. The primary resources of NGOS are are donation from different countries and people who really want to help countris like Nepal.  The foreingner and Countries  believes that the development process will only be successful through participation of the community. Working areas of the INGOS are Sankhu and its surrounding villages.
In the past years, the Friends of Sankhu has completed five major heritage conservation works in Sankhu. The most interesting thing about heritage conservation in Sankhu is that every project carries with it a sequel again, and that the path taken now is turning this small town already into a concentration point of Dutch efforts at cultural preservation and its spin-offs. In its efforts in carrying out heritage conservation in Sankhu besides local people’s supports the Friends of Sankhu have received financial support from the Royal Netherlands Consulate (SNV-Nepal KAP, a short Embassy project), the Royal Netherlands Embassy Neda, the Government of the Netherlands, the VNN-Netherlands-Nepal Association (Vereniging Nederland-Nepal) CORDAID, Seva Foundation the Netherlands and Wilde Ganzen, the Netherlands. Local Government organisation Vajrajogini VDC supported it financially and in each instance FoS was able to mobilize community participation.

Heritage Conservation in Nepal: the case of Sankhu

The town of Sankhu
Sankhu is an old and historical trading town situated about 17 km northeast of Kathmandu on the ancient trade route to Tibet. The foundation of the kingdom of Sankhu is attributed to the goddess Vajrayogini, whose shrine is located in the forest above the town of Sankhu. The temple of Vajrayogini is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists and Hindus alike. The yearly festival of the goddess is also the main event in Sankhu's ritual cycle. According to the legend Manisailamahavadana, Vajrayogini instructed the priest Jogdev and the first king Sankhadev to build the town of Sankhu in the shape of a conch shell. The oldest inscription found in Sankhu is dated 538 AD.
After the opening of alternative trade routes to Tibet the town lost in importance. Nowadays Sankhu is a mainly agricultural town, which offers a medieval sight in spite of its proximity to Kathmandu. Sankhu’s surrounding villages; Lapsephedi and Nanglebhare Village Development Committees are the most remote and backward areas of Kathmandu.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Newar Music

Monday, September 7, 2009
Newar Music
The Newars are very much rich in traditional, classical and folk music as in dances. Various music and dance events take place in different parts of Newar societies on the occasion of different festivals. In fact, the Newars are so duly intermixed with music and dances that not a single festival, feast or ceremony, 'from womb to tomb', passes without a music or music and dances.
Various songs, musical instruments and dances are connected with various religious, social and cultural life of the Newars Different musical instruments are in practice in the festival, feasts, ceremonies and also in funeral procession.
Musical instruments
It is believed that there are about 200 (two hundred) types of original musical instruments in Nepal, and 108(one hundred eight types) of musical instruments have been found till now. A great number of Newar musical instruments are included init. These instruments can be classified into four classes according to Sangeet Shastra.
Membranophones - Dhimay, Dhah, Paschima, NayaKhin etc.
Idiophones - Bhusyah, Chhusyah, TainNain etc.
Chordophones - Piwancha
Aerophones - Muhali, Nekoo, Bansuri etc.
Mostly used musical instruments in Newar societies are membranophones, which are generally accompanied with idiophones and aerophones.
. Newar Dance The Newars are very much rich in traditional, classical and folk music as in dances. Various music and dance events take place in different parts of Newar societies on the occasion of different festivals. In fact, the Newars are so duly intermixed with music and dances that not a single festival, feast or ceremony, 'from womb to tomb', passes without a music or music and dances.
There are many mask dances, folk dances and classical dances the newars perform. A number of mask dances are also performed once in every twelve years. In general, these all types of dances can be classified into three categories
Masked Dances - Mahakali Dance, Bhairab Dance, Sikali Dance, Various Gan Pyakhan etc.
Folk Dances - Jyapu Dance, Ghintanmuni etc.
Charya Dances - ManjuShree, Arjya Tara, Sodasa Lasya etc.

Sawan Bhaku

Sawan Bhaku
Sawan Bhaku is claimed to be god so are workshipped by local persons. Sawan Bhaku wears mask with red cultural dress. One of them carries the sharped weapon and comes in blue dress.he is reagarded as Bhairab. They shows dance in many places.The most interesting thing is that during puja the raw eggs are also devoted to Sawan bhaku,and they just eat the raw eggs and get drink too much wine. Most amazing thing is that their health is not affected due to lots of raw eggs and too much wine. It is said to be encarnation of the god in them in the time of wearing the mask.

Chariots of Ganesh, Bhairab and Kumari

Chariots of Ganesh, Bhairab and Kumari
Three chario ts of Ganesh, Bhairab and Kumari is pulled around Kathmandu during the Yanya Punhi in series wise.It is said that the chariots of ganesh and Bhairab is taken for the protection of Kumari god. Kumari is considered to be only one living goddess in Nepal, the bodily incarnation of Taleju Bhawani.She is a Hindu goddess but Kumari is represented by a Buddhist girl of the Shakya, a clan within the Newar community. A chariot carrying Kumari is pulled around Kathmandu during Indra Jatra. The tradition was started by the last Malla King of Kathmandu, Jaya Prakash Malla.
Along with above processions festivals, including the Procession of Goddess-Mahakali, Mahalaxmi and Dasha Avatara masked dances are staged in Kathmandu Durbar Square, near the Kumari Temple. The "Dasha Avatara" refers to the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu who is one of the Hindu's Holy trinity
Gigantic mask of Aakash Bairab represented by a massive mask spouting beer and liquor is also displayed in this festival. Households throughout Kathmandu display images and sculptures of Indra and Bhairab only at this time of year.After the chariots of godess are pulled around the Kathmandu, people moves towards the mask to have drop of beer and liqor spouted throught that mask as (prasad) of Asak bhairab.
This festival is also observed by the Newars as a day to remember the family members who passed away during the past year by offering small oil lamps along a traditional route covering all the parts of the old city. It is believed to have been started during the reign of Mahendra Malla.
The excitement of the festival of Indra Jatra comes to an end on the last evening of the festival when the long wooden pole erected on the first day is lowered with religious ceremonies, animal sacrifices and ritual gestures.

Pulukisi (or Tanakisi)

The hollow painted elephant. Three people go inside an elephant costume and start their journey in a wild way accompanied by a man holding a flaming torch and a musical band. The Pulukisi appears once in a year during this festival from Kilagal.All the local people basically children are very happy to see the dance of the pulukisi. Many of local persons also do worship pulukisi as regarding as the ganesh god.

Newar Buddhism

Newar Buddhism is the form of Mahayana-Vajrayana Buddhism practiced by the Newar ethnic community of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. It has developed unique socio-religious elements, which include a non-monastic Buddhist society based on a caste system and patrilinial descent. The ritual priests, Bajracharya or Vajracharya, and their Shakya assistants form the non-celibate religious sangha while other Buddhist Newar castes serve as the laity. Newar Buddhism seems to preserve some aspects of the Indian Buddhism that died out during the 12th century and appears to have not been preserved in Buddhist schools elsewhere. Newar Buddhism is characterized by its rich artistic tradition of Buddhist monument and artwork as well as by being a storehouse of ancient Sanskrit Buddhist texts, many of which are now only extant in Nepal. According to the authors of Rebuilding Buddhism: The Theravada Movement in Twentieth-century Nepal: "Today traditional Newar Buddhism is unquestionably in retreat before Theravada Buddhism."

RELIGION

Ask a Newar whether he's Hindu or Buddhist, the saying goes and he'll answer "yes" : after fifteen centuries of continuous exposure to both faiths, the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley have concocted a unique synthesis of the two. To religious scholars, the Newar religion is as exciting as a biologist's missing link, for some believe that it provides a picture of the way Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism functioned historically in India.
Until only the past two centuries, the Newars held fast to original monastic form of tantric Buddhism – as the bahal of Kathmandu and Patan still bear witness – while their rulers pursued the Hindu tantric path. However, the Kathmandu Valley has become progressively "Hinduized" since the unification of Nepal in the eighteenth century: the monasteries have largely disappeared, their monks have married, and the title of Vajracharya (Buddhist Priest) has become a hereditary caste like that of the Bahun (Brahman) priests. Today, Newar Buddhists are perhaps the only Buddhist culture that no longer maintains active communities of monks or nuns. Although the acceptance of caste and decline of monasticism have shifted the balance in favor of Hinduism, at the popular level the synthesis remains as well bonded as ever.
When Newars refer to themselves as Buddha Margi (Buddhist) or Shiva Margi (Hindu), they often do so only to indicate that they employ a Vajracharya or Bahun priests; even this does not hold true, though, as many jyapu (farmers) call themselves "Hindu" and attend Hindu festivals, yet still use Vajracharyas. In any case, Newar rituals vary little from Hindu to Buddhist.
Puja (an act of worship) is performed to gain the favor of deities for material requests as often as for "spiritual" reasons. It is a profound and very personal ritual. An integral part of all Newar rituals is the "puja of five offerings", consisting of flowers (usually marigolds), incense, light (in the form of butter lamps), sindur (colored powder) and various kinds of purified food (usually rice, dairy products, sometimes sweets). Before darshan (audience with a deity), the devotee or the priest uses consecrated water to wash him or herself and to bathe the deity. After the deity has symbolically accepted and eaten some food, the remainder is taken back by the devotee as prasad (consecrated food). This, along with a tika made with the colored powder, confers the deity's blessing and protection.
Priests are ordinarily engaged for the more important life-cycle rites (birth, marriage, death) or for larger seasonal festivals; wealthier Newars may also seek private consultations at times of illness or important decisions. Bahun priests don't perform animal sacrifices, but they do preside over the rituals that precede them. This brings up one of the rare differences between Hindu and Buddhist Newars : while Hindu Newars are enthusiastic sacrificers – they call the bloody ninth day of Dasain festival Syako Tyako (roughly, "the more you kill, the more you gain") – Buddhists seldom participate. During dasain, Tibetan monasteries in Nepal hold special services to pray for good rebirths of the sacrificed animals.

History in Nepal

Whilst the veneration of a living Kumari in Nepal is relatively recent, dating only from the 17th century, the tradition of Kumari-Puja, or virgin worship, has been around for much longer. There is evidence of virgin worship taking place in India for more than 2,300 years. It appears to have taken hold in Nepal in the 6th century. There is written evidence describing the selection, ornamentation and worship of the Kumari dating from the 13th century.
There are several legends telling of how the current tradition of the Kumari began. Most of the legends, however, tell of King Jayaprakash Malla, the last Nepalese king of the Malla Dynasty (12th-17th century CE). According to the most popular legend, a red serpent approached the king's chambers late one night as he played tripasa, a dice game, with the goddess Taleju. The goddess came along every night to play the game, with the condition that the king refrain from telling anyone about their meetings.
But one night the king's wife followed him to his chamber in order to find out who the king was meeting so often. The king's wife saw Taleju and the goddess was angered. She told the king that, if he wants to see her again or have her protect his country, he'd have to search for her among the Newari(Shakya) community, as she would be incarnated as a little girl among them. Hoping to make amends with his patroness, King Jayaprakash Malla left the palace in search of the young girl who was possessed by Taleju's spirit.
Even today, a mother's dream of a red serpent is believed to be a portent of the elevation of her daughter to the position of Royal Kumari. And each year, the Nepalese King seeks the blessing of the Royal Kumari at the festival of Indra Jatra. This tradition has changed recently with the country becoming the youngest republic of the world. This year the president of Nepal sought Kumari's blessing instead.
A variation of this and other legends names King Gunkam Dev, a 12th century ancestor of King Jayaprakash Malla, as the main character rather than Jayaprakash Malla.
A third variation of the legend says that during the reign of King Jayaprakash Malla, a young girl was banished from the city because it was feared that she was possessed by the goddess Durga. When the queen learned of the young girl's fate, she became enraged and insisted that the king fetch the girl and install her as the living incarnation of Durga.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Kumari (The Living Goddess)

Thursday, September 3, 2009
Kumari, or Kumari Devi, is the tradition of worshipping young pre-pubescent girls as manifestations of the divine female energy or devi in South Asian countries. Kumari literally means virgin in Sanskrit, Nepali and other Indian languages and is a name of the goddess Durga as a child. In Nepal a Kumari is a prepubescent girl selected from the Shakya clan of the Nepalese Newari community. The Kumari is revered and worshiped by some of the country's Hindus as well as the Nepali Buddhists, though not the Tibetan Buddhists. In India a Kumari is generally chosen for one day and worshipped accordingly on certain festivals like Navaratri or Durga Puja. In the Indian state of Bengal this is a particularly prevalent practice.
While there are several Kumaris throughout Nepal, with some cities having several, the best known is the Royal Kumari of Kathmandu, and she lives in the Kumari Ghar, a palace in the center of the city. The selection process for her is especially rigorous. The current Royal Kumari, Matina Shakya, aged four, was installed in October 2008 by the Maoist government that replaced the monarchy.
A Kumari is believed to be the bodily incarnation of the goddess Taleju (the Nepalese name for Durga) until she menstruates, after which it is believed that the goddess vacates her body. Serious illness or a major loss of blood from an injury are also causes for her to revert to common status.

Ganesha

Ganesha (Sanskrit: गणेश; IAST: Gaṇeśa; listen (help·info)), also spelled Ganesa or Ganesh and also known as Ganapati, Vinayaka, and Pillaiyar, is one of the best-known and most widely worshipped deities in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India. Hindu sects worship him regardless of affiliations. Devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends to Jains, Buddhists, and beyond India.
Although he is known by many other attributes, Ganesha's elephant head makes him easy to identify. Ganesha is widely revered as the Remover of Obstacles and more generally as Lord of Beginnings and Lord of Obstacles (Vighnesha, Vighneshvara), patron of arts and sciences, and the deva of intellect and wisdom. He is honoured at the beginning of rituals and ceremonies and invoked as Patron of Letters during writing sessions. Several texts relate mythological anecdotes associated with his birth and exploits and explain his distinct iconography.
Ganesha emerged as a distinct deity in clearly recognizable form in the 4th and 5th centuries CE, during the Gupta Period, although he inherited traits from Vedic and pre-Vedic precursors. His popularity rose quickly, and he was formally included among the five primary deities of Smartism (a Hindu denomination) in the 9th century. A sect of devotees called the Ganapatya, (Sanskrit: गाणपत्य; gāṇapatya), who identified Ganesha as the supreme deity, arose during this period. The principal scriptures dedicated to Ganesha are the Ganesha Purana, the Mudgala Purana, and the Ganapati Atharvashirsa.

Yanya Punhi

Yanyā Punhi (Devnagari: ञेया पुन्ही, Sanskrit: Indra Jatra) is a festival celebrated in Kathmandu, Nepal. The main attraction of the festival is the procession of chariots and masked dancers representing deities and demons.
Yanyā Punhi (Indra Jatra) is a holiday related to Hindu god king of heaven, Indra. The festival begins with the carnival-like erection of Yosin, a ceremonial pole, accompanied by the rare display of the deity Aakash Bhairab, represented by a massive mask spouting beer and liquor. Households throughout Kathmandu display images and sculptures of Indra and Bhairab only at this time of year. Finally, the Kumari, or virgin goddess (living goddess), leaves the seclusion of her temple in a palanquin and leads a procession through the streets of Kathmandu to thank Indra the rain god.
Procession
Kumari paraded during the festivalThe procession consists of:
Majipa Lakhey
Pulukishi
Sawan Bhaku
Ganesh (Chariot)                            Ganesh Sankhu
Besides these, there are various dances held on the open stages of the city called dabu. There is display of Swet Bhairava as well as various deities of the city.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bodhisattva

Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Theravada Buddhism
The term Bodhisatta (Pali language) was used by the Buddha in the Pāli Canon to refer to himself both in his previous lives and as a young man in his current life, prior to his enlightenment, in the period during which he was working towards his own liberation. When, during his discourses, he recounts his experiences as a young aspirant, he regularly uses the phrase "When I was an unenlightened Bodhisatta..." The term therefore connotes a being who is "bound for enlightenment," in other words, a person whose aim is to become fully enlightened. In the Pali Canon, the Bodhisatta is also described as someone who is still subject to birth, illness, death, sorrow, defilement and delusion. Some of the previous lives of the Buddha as a bodhisattva are featured in the Jataka Tales.
In the Pāli Canon, the Bodhisatta Siddhartha Gotama is described as thus:
before my Awakening, when I was an unawakened bodhisatta, being subject myself to birth, sought what was likewise subject to birth. Being subject myself to aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement, I sought [happiness in] what was likewise subject to illness... death... sorrow... defilement.
—Ariyapariyesana Sutta
While Maitreya (Pali: Metteya) is mentioned in the Pāli Canon, he is not referred to as a bodhisattva, but simply the next fully-awakened Buddha to come into existence long after the current teachings of the Buddha are lost.
In later Theravada literature, the term bodhisatta is used fairly frequently in the sense of someone on the path to liberation. The later tradition of commentary also recognizes the existence of two additional types of bodhisattas: the paccekabodhisatta who will attain Paccekabuddhahood, and the savakabodhisatta who will attain enlightenment as a disciple of a Buddha.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Salkha Mahadyo Ganesh

Monday, August 31, 2009

Dhunlla Mahadyo Ganesh - Sankhu


Chalakhu Ganesh - Sankhu


Dugahiti Ganesh- Sankhu


Dhunlla Ganesh - Sankhu


Inlla Ganesh -Sankhu


Friday, August 28, 2009

Devi Pyakhan Pictures- Sankhu

Friday, August 28, 2009
Devi Naach ( Dance)

Devi Pyakhan Videos

Devi Naach ( Dance)
Devi Pyakhan ( Dance) is an ancient dance of Hindu Goddess. It is an ancient dance celebrated in different part of old Newar towns of Nepal. This dance give entertaintment as well but it has more ritual values and religious aspect than anything else.
Every year this festival is celebrated on the Kage- Asthami. Tha Kage-Asthami is the Asthami before Yanya Punhi (Bhadra Sukla Purnima) Indra Jatra. The festival of Devi Pyakhan Starts at 10 pm of night and last whole night. The dance shows every tole (main place) of Sankhu. This dance is a traditional religious dance.



History of Dance
Once upon a time Goddess Bajrayogini came to sankhu by disguished 3 little babies. They came to Sindhu Chowk near the Chalakhu tole. When they were dancing a very powerful Tantric of Sankhu knew about this and he catched babies by the Tantrik power. The Tantrik got promise from Goddess Bajrayogini that every year she will come to sankhu and show dance in Sankhu. From that time the dance is continusely running once every year in Sankhu.

Devi Pyakhan ( Khya Pyakhan)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bajrayogini jatra( Vajrayogini festival) of Sankhu

Saturday, August 22, 2009
Every year the Bajrayogini’s jatra at sankhu, Kathmandu celebrated for 8 days. This is one of the major Jatra that we can see inside Kathmandu valley. During these 8days we can see differen kind of possessin of festival and the crowd as we see in jatra of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur or Lalitpur. May be since Sanku is a small village/city east north of Kathamndu and the population is very less in comparision to big citites like Kathmandu. Many people came to visit from Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Patan and near newar towns to observe this jatra.


You will get different type of excitement while watching this jatra. Since the Bajrayogini temple is at the top of the hill, brining the god’s statue down the steep hill on the heavy chariot is really exciting. I think locale from Shanku should invite people, friends, and relatives from different places to see this jatra so that people will know about it, see the excitement of this jatra and know more about this ancient city Shanku.
When you did a hiking from shanku to Nagarkot, This place is also popular for Sali Nadi (holy river which is mention in one of the holy book of hindu, Swasthani )

This place has many thing to offer for internal, Indian (for holy reason) and external tourism). I read somewhere about this place that around 15th or 16th century some Italian priest visited this place and compare it with their Italian city saying it’s beautiful .
Government will take some steps to make such jatra, Fairs to make the place popular and attract tourist so that the economy of the locale people will increase।

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Visit the stunning Newari town of Sankhu

Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Visit the stunning Newari town of Sankhu
The small town of Sankhu lies hidden in the Kathmandu Valley and once was a significant town located on the Tibetan trade route. Today, Sankhu, or Sankharapur, does not have a thriving economy and most inhabitants work on farms or in the trading industry. Even though it does not have the hustle and bright lights of the cities, Sankhu is a favourite tourist destination in Nepal, due to its history and many spectacular sights and attractions.

It is believed that Shankharapur was established in 1801, although many have argued that its founding date was in 1299. But no matter which date is completely accurate, it still remains the oldest and most historic location in the Kathmandu Valley. The legend related to the history of the town tells of a kingdom that was created and how the Tantric goddess Bajrajogini was significant in the establishment of Sankhu. Her shrine is hidden in the dense forests surrounding the town and it is a place of pilgrimage for many Hindus and Buddhists.

The annual Sankhu festival is also held in her honor. Her shrine consists of beautiful statues, stupas and a few other shrines. The main structure at the shrine was constructed in the year 1655 by the then King, Prakas Malla. It is the most historic and oldest shrine that is located in this area. The goddess of wisdom is honored at the Sankhu Bajra Jogini and Hindus make their way to this shrine to offer blood sacrifices to the goddess. Buddhists have their own tantras here to make their own offerings. The caves that are located near the temple of Bajrajogini should also be explored, as it is said that in the cave that has two rooms the priest pays penance here for his love for her.

The Changunarayan Temple and the Salinadi River (a holy river in the Hindu religion) are two other very important and breathtaking sights. The lush green forests that surround Sankhu are worth looking into, as they are peaceful and magical, with many creatures and birds that make the forest their home. This charming destination in Nepal has a wonderful mixture of culture, tradition, history and spectacular beauty to share with visitors. It is guaranteed to be a rewarding experience and is a recommended town to visit when in Nepal.

Shaligram found in Sankhu

Shaligram found in Sankhu ( Shankharapur)


A 100-kg shaligram has been found on the Sankhu side of Narayan Gadgade Khola in Kathmandu. The location is in kathmandu and near the border of Bhaktapur district. The place is locally known as Ita khel chaur ( big ground).
The 18 inch wide and 24 inch long shali-gram was found on the foundation of Muktinath temple laid by Muktinath Pithadhiswor Swami Kamal Nayanacharya in 2004, said Madhusudan Dangal, a local.
The Akhanda Jyoti Baba Swami Shri Shri Charitable Trust established for the construction of Muktinath temple has kept the shaligram in the Ashram, said Trust heir Swami Jagadish Prapannacharya.
If you go and ask about the found of Saligram there are different stories you can hear from different people. Although there are lots of peopl who are continusely worship the found saligram. If you want to see the saligram you can go by motor bike from sankhu. It is 25 min walk from sankhu and easy to find the way.
The shaligram was dropped from a truck loaded by a dozer on the foundation site on the river bank while levelling the ground for Muktinath Temple and a school on Tuesday.

Pictures from festivals


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sankhu Newar Rites

Saturday, August 15, 2009
Different rites and rituals of Newars are observed in Sankhu including related to birth, Bell Bibah "Ehi" ( Marriage with Bell fruit), Barha Tayagu ( Marriage with Sun) and others.
In additions of Newars others communties like Tamangs, Brahmans, Chhetris etc. follo unique rites and riuals in Sankhu.


Newar Rituals in Life
Newar Rituals in Life
Pre Natal
There are many pre natal rituals, however majority of those : pusawan kriya, simatopanayan, for example are no longer in existence. Nevertheless, Dhau baji nakegu (offering yogurt and flattened rice along with yomari, sweets etc) during pregnancy is still practiced by many castes.
Birth
After child birth, it is informed to maternal home of the mother. It is done by sending sugar candy, nutmeg, ginger etc. After the birth, concerned family becomes ritually impure. They become pure after 'Machaboo byanke' tradition which is done on forth, sixth or tenth day after the child birth.
There is also a tradition of offering different kinds of foods from maternal home of the mother within a month of delivery, which is known as 'Baji nakah wonegu' or ' Machaboo swahwanegu'.
Macha Janko (the rice feeding)
The rice feeding is done in 6th or 8th month (in case of a boy) and in 5th or 7th month (in case of a girl). After worshipping Ganesh, the child is offered rice pudding with verities of food. It is believed that the child gets similar food throughout his life as the food offered on that day.
Busankha (Boys)
Busankha means shaving of hair. it is done at the age of 6 or 7. Shaving of hair is done by the maternal uncle of the boy, sister of the boy's father holds the shaved hair. These days, busankha is done at the time of 'kayatapuja'.
Kayatapuja (Boys)
Kayatapuja or fixing of loin cloth is done to mark the attainment of puberty. Bajracharya and Shakyas perform the tonsure ceremony, Chudakarma. During this, one has to visit shrines and pay homage to Kwahpahdyoh and make offerings. After kayatapuja, Jyapus and Sayamis undergo Ohla (which is less practiced these days.)
Ihi (Girls)
This is a ritual symbolic marriage with a bel (byah) fruit, the symbol of lord Vishnu. This ceremony, celebrated at the age of 5-11 , is done to prevent widowhood. As they are married to immortal lord, the Newar girls never become widow.
The girls are also taught household works in Ihi.
Bahra (Girls)
After Ihi, a Newar girl undergo bahra, ritual confinement of a girl before the onset of menstruation. A girl is kept separated from all males and from sunlight for 12 days. On 12th day the girl has to pay homage to the sun.
Ihipa (Marriage)
Marriage in Newar culture is social union of two families. The parents arrange marriage for their sons and daughters. After the groom's and bride's families decision, the marriage is confirmed by giving 10 betel nuts along with fruits, sweets etc (known as lakha) from groom's family to the bride.
Marriage ceremony is performed at the time scheduled by the astrologer. Swayamber, Honkegu, Chipa Theeke (symbol of sharing everything) is performed. Bride presents 10 betel nuts to all her family members. Brother of her mother, paju, takes on his back and carries her out of the house. He then presents her to the groom's family.
The bride's family visit the groom's house on the 4th day , to see how the bride is being treated , which is known as Khwah soye (seeing the bride's face).
Jyah Janko
Jyah janko is old age ceremony to mark one's longevity. It is celebrated for five times.
First - Bhimratharohan - At the attainment of 77 years, 7 months, 7 days
Second - Chadraratharohan - At the attainment of 83 years, 4 months, 4 days
Third - Devaratharohan - At the attainment of 88 years, 8 months, 8 days
Forth - Divyaratharohan - At the attainment of 99 years, 9 months, 9 days
Fifth - Mahadivyaratharohan - At the attainment of 105 years, 8 months, 8 days
Sithan
As soon as a person dies, all the Guthi (social organisation) members are informed. Four lamps are set around the four direction of the corpse. Mha gele, adoration of the corpse is marked. Funeral procession is accompanied with Nayahkhin drum followed by a lot of people wailing and crying. Cremation is different in different castes

Friday, August 14, 2009

Swosthani and Shalinadi- sankhu (Shankharapur)

Friday, August 14, 2009
Most of the Nepalese Hindu households have a tradition of reading out the Hindu scripture called Swosthani beginning on the full moon day called Milla-punhi (mid- January) in the bright fortnight of the month called Poush (mid-January) and ending on the next full moon day called See-punhi (mid-February) in the month of Magha in the Vikram calendar.

Nepalis believe that reading out and listening to the Hindu scripture called Swosthani help them in keeping away evil spirits and inauspicious things from their home. Some women take a Swosthani brata (a day fast) for the whole month. They believe that such undertakings please Goddess Swosthani, and she meets their wishes. Goddess Parvati, believed to be another form of Goddess Swosthani, had undertaken such religious worship to achieve her goal of receiving Lord Shiva as her spouse.

People dedicate this auspicious month of Magha to Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati. They spend the whole month on in service of and in praise of this divine couple. A month long religious fair is held at the river called Salinadi in Sankhu about 20km northeast of Kathmandu. People venerate Goddess Swosthani and demigoddess Chandrawoti who suffered the consequences of the insult she had inflicted on Goddess Swosthani. Later on, Chandrawoti undertook the Swosthani brata for a month to atone for the sin and she got relief from her suffering and became a demigoddess.

The Nepali version of the Holy Scripture called Swosthani begins with the description of the creation of heaven, earth, divinities, demons, humans, ghosts, animals and birds. After the creation of the heaven and earth, the story goes on telling about the lives of divinities, and how one divinity insulted another. It goes on describing the life of Lord Shiva with his first spouse called Satidevi, and then with the second spouse called Parvati, and then the life of human called Gomaiju, her son Navaraj, and his spouse called Chandrawoti. The story ends with the elevation of Navaraj and Chandrawoti to the status of king and queen by the grace of Goddess Swosthani.

Narration of these stories takes one full month for a person reading out a number of pages for about an hour every evening during the winter month called Magha dedicated to this religious service. The reader performs a small puja to the scripture before opening it to read. A small wicker plate of popcorn and fried peanuts or of any other ready to eat sweet item is set beside the scripture so that it also would listen to the scripture. All household members and neighbors who do not have such a scripture to read or no person to read joining the household members listen to the story of Swosthani. At the end of reading the scripture, the reader makes offerings of the food set aside to Goddess Swosthani and then distributes it to the listeners as the blessing from the Goddess.

After the story of creation of earth, heaven, divinities, demons, humans, animals and birds, the story of marrying one daughter after another of Hindu demigod called Dachhe prajapati begins. Dachhe prajapati had tens of fabulous daughters married to various divinities. Lord Shiva alone remained unmarried among the deities. When Lord Shiva came to know Dachhe prajapati had given his daughters in marriages to deities leaving behind a single senior most daughter with him. Lord Shiva thought that Dachhe prajapati must have set her aside for him to marry her. So, Lord Shiva himself approached Dachhe prajapati for the hands of the senior most daughter called Satidevi. Dachhe prajapati and his wife did not give her in marriage to anybody because they wanted her to be with them during their old age. When Lord Shiva approached Dachhe prajapati with the proposal of marrying Satidevi, he not only rejected the proposal but also insulted Lord Shiva in public. Dachhe prajapati was a conservative Hindu whereas Lord Shiva was a liberal one.

The preserver of the Hindu world, Lord Vishnu, and heavenly king Indra saw urgency in easing the insult inflicted on Lord Shiva, as the Hindu world might be in jeopardy if something would go wrong with Lord Shiva. So, they tricked Dachhe prajapati into giving his daughter Satidevi in marriage to Lord Shiva. This was actually a reconciliation Lord Vishnu attempted to bring about between Lord Shiva and Dachhe prajapati. He, however, never forgot the trick played by Lord Vishnu on him. He also never forgave Lord Shiva for the marriage. So, Dachhe prajapati ignored Satidevi and her spouse after the marriage.

When Satidevi came to know that her father Dachhe prajapati did not invite her to the great fire-offering (Yagyan) he had been performing, she rushed to her father and demanded explanation from the father for not inviting her to such a great event. Dachhe prajapati instead of promising her not to repeat such a mistake, continued to insult Lord Shiva, which Satidevi could not tolerate any more, and she in her extreme anger jumped into the burning fire and ended her life.

When Lord Shiva saw the lifeless body of Satidevi lying on the great fire at the altar, he could not control his anger, too. He cut off the head of Dachhe prajapati and tossed it on the fire. With great sorrow and repentance for the misdeeds of Dachhe prajapati, his spouse pleaded with Lord Shiva to return the life of Dachhe prajapati. His mind filled with pity for her; Lord Shiva picked up the head of a sacrificial lamb and fixed it on the shoulder of Dachhe prajapati with its face on backside, and gave him a new life with the head of a lamb.

Lord Shiva carried the lifeless body of Satidevi on his back, and began trotting around the globe, again posing threat to the Hindu world. Gradually, the corpse of Satidevi began decomposing, and fell one piece of her body after another on the ground creating various deities on the site.

Satidevi reincarnated in Parvati. Satidevi was born again as the daughter of king Himalaya. The king named her Parvati. When Parvati reached puberty; her parents wanted her to marry to Lord Vishnu. However, she developed a wish for receiving Lord Shiva as her spouse. To get her wish met, she undertook a month long Swosthani brata and got married to Lord Shiva as a result. The divine couple has two sons called Kumar and Ganesh.

Ganesh became an elephant-headed because Lord Shiva not being able to recognize Ganesh beheaded him in anger when Ganesh refused Lord Shiva an entry into his own abode. Ganesh was keeping a guard while his mother Parvati was taking a bathe in her chamber when Lord Shiva arrived at Kailash. Lord Shiva could not recognize Ganesh as he had been away from his home called Kailash for several years. By the time, Ganesh had grown quite a bit making him unrecognizable. When Parvati saw Lord Shiva in her inner chamber she realized that something must have gone wrong. Realizing the mistake Lord Shiva sent his attendants to get a head of any beings they met on the way at first hand. They met an elephant and cut off its head, and brought it to Lord Shiva who in turn fixed it on the shoulder of Ganesh.

The divine couple decided to grant a boon to their sons: Kumar and Ganesh, as they have come of age. They called on them and asked them to make a round trip to the Mount Sumeru so that they could bless them with a boon on their return.

Ganesh secured the boon from the parents first despite his vehicle being a lousy rat. Kumar has a peacock as his vehicle whereas Ganesh has a rat. Kumar immediately rode on the peacock and flew to make a trip to Mount Sumeru. Poor Ganesh could not dare to ride on the rat and make an almost impossible trip to Mount Sumeru. So, Ganesh was upset. Seeing his master sad, the rat asked Ganesh the reason for being so sad. Thinking useless to tell his problem to the mundane rat, Ganesh kept quite. However, the rat went on insisting Ganesh on telling him the truth. Ultimately, Ganesh gave in and told him what his parents had said to him. The rat smiled and told Ganesh that it was a very simple thing to do for securing the boon first. Then, the rat said to Ganesh, “Master, please go to your parents, ask them to stand together and then go round them three times and prostrate at their feet and tell them ‘you are my parents and you are Mount Sumeru, too for me.’” Then, Ganesh took the counsel of the rat and went to his parents: Lord Shiva and Parvati; Ganesh did to them what the rat told him to do. His parents were very happy with him, and granted him the boon of the rights to receiving the first offerings. So, none of the Hindu deities accept the offerings made to them without making offerings to Lord Ganesh.

Kumar secured the boon but less significant than Ganesh received. When Kumar came back from the trip to Mount Sumeru; Ganesh has already received the boon. Kumar strongly protested against his parents’ granting the boon first to Ganesh, as he did not meet the condition set by them. However, the parents could not revoke the boon given to Ganesh; they made Kumar eligible to receive offerings before Ganesh but in a simple form. So, the Newar community has a stone carved into an eight-petal form Kumar set at the entrance to their houses, and they bring offerings to him in a leaf plate and drop them on it before going to make offerings to Lord Ganesh.

After having a divine boon, Ganesh himself began making favors to his devotees. The first beneficiary was the family of Shiva Bhakta Brahmin. As the couple was poor and childless, Ganesh made them rich, and then granted the couple a daughter. The couple with a beautiful daughter lived happily for a number of years.

However, a great misfortunate befell them. Shiva Bhakta Brahmin lost his wealth; he had to give her beloved daughter called Gomaiju in marriage to an old man without any possessions of wealth. Gomaiju underwent several kinds of sufferings because she unknowingly antagonized the Lord. She brought up her son, Navaraj with a great difficulty.

Gomaiju revered Goddess Swosthani taking a fast every day for a month; as a result, she not only got relief from her sufferings but also got her son Navaraj crowned a king. At that time the tradition had it that an elephant with divine power went around the city-state to choose a king from among the people. The elephant chose Navaraj for a king.

However, his spouse Chandrawoti because of her ego of being a queen insulted Goddess Swosthani rejecting the blessed food offered by the porters carrying her to the palace. When the porters reached the bank of the river called Salinadi; Chandrawoti stopped the porters to have a break for some time. During the break the porters went to watch the group of people performing worship to Goddess Swosthani. They listened to the story of Goddess Swosthani, received the Goddess-blessed food and saved some of it for Chandrawoti. When the porters came to her she was furious with them at spending so much time on wandering elsewhere. They tried to explain to her where they were and why they took so much time to come back. However, she did not listen to their explanation. She tossed away the blessed food offered to her from their hands.

Chandrawoti suffered the consequences of her insult to Goddess Swosthani. In no time, there was a heavy rain. The river Salinadi swelled up with the water from the rain. The swollen river swept away the porters while crossing the river. She fell down the river. She turned into a stone and remained there in-situ. Nobody could recognize her and nobody offered her any food.

Later on, she realized her sins and to atone for the sins, made offerings to Goddess Swosthani for a month. She not only got relief from her sins but also transformed into a demigoddess by the grace of Goddess Swosthani.

Thereafter, Nepalese people set the tradition of revering Goddess Swosthani, Demigoddess Chandrawoti, her spouse Navaraj and the porters at Salinadi during the month long religious fair in the month of Magha.

Women taking the month long Swosthani brata complete their offerings on the full moon day in the bright fortnight of the Magha month. On this day, they perform purification rites, and they fast for the whole day. In the evening they perform special offerings to Goddess Swosthani. These offerings comprise 108-special bread called ‘achheta’ prepared for making offerings to the Goddess on this occasion. After the completion of offerings to the Goddess they offer these blessed bread first to their husband. If they do not have a husband, they offer the bread to their son, if they do not have a son, to the son of their close friends. If they do not have even such sons, they dispose the bread in a holy river.


 
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