Shree Swasthani Brata-Katha, festival

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Shree Swasthani, Nepal

SHREE SWASTHANI, Wish-Fulfilling Goddess

The solemn worshipping of Goddess Shree Swasthani (the Hindu deity known for miracu lously granting wishes made in solemn state by pure souls) in every Hindu household, particularly those of Chhetris and Brahmins begins on third week of January (Poush skula prunima according to Hindu Vedic calendar). Notwithstanding the chilly winter, every member of the family infallibly gathers in a room, clean and sanctified, in the evening, where the deity is worshipped collectively, amid chanting of holy hymns from Shree Swasthani Brata-Katha (scripture recording divine feats of Swasthani Devi), and later, the elderly male or female member or some Guru read aloud the brata-katha (episodes telling several miraculous feats performed by the diet and the poor souls being granted wishes).

Innumerable episode, a break down in thirty-one chapters depicting the Bhakta’s (devotees’) suffering, and later, being redeemed, in a state of salvation, are read aloud and solemnly listened to by everyone in the winter evening. The holy occasion goes uninterrupted for a complete one month. The one, Guru or the elderly member, chanting the hymns in Sanskrit languages or translated version in vernacular Nepali, usually do so in state of fasting so as to purge himself for the holy purpose while other listen to him in a spell-bound manner.

The Shree Swasthani Brata-Katha as the holy ceremony sacredly called, is widely observed by people of Hindu belief. An unflinching belief coupled with high reverence to the diet among Hindus perhaps remain the strong force of motivation. The belief that any one observing the holy ceremony for complete one month in a state of purity and solemnity by strictly adhering to the rituals prescribed will have his wishes, what-so-over, granted, has added to the seriousness of the ceremony.

Goddess Shree Swasthani is portrayed as a fourhanded deity with chakra (Lord Krishna’s revolving weapon at the tip of his finger), Trishul (Lord Shiva’s three-pronged weapon), sword and Lotus in each hand sitting at the center while Asta-Matrikas (eight-chief deities of power) namely Mahakali, Baishnawi, Brahmi, Maheshori, Kaumeshwori, Barahi, Indrani and Chamunda remaining around her.

Shree Swasthani placed in the center while other powerful deities in the periphery perhaps suggest the importance of Swasthani Devi and reason for taking her into high esteem by devoted Hindus.

The Brata-Katha (tales related to miraculous feats performed by Goddess Swasthani), not merely enlists the omniscient Goddess’ miraculous presence at time of need of her suffering and wretched Bhaktas (devotee), which has been repeatedly picturized, but also her supremacy over other deities of power, in Hinduism, has been tried to establish.

In the first few chapters, episode related to Lord Shiva’s wife Satidevi’s sufferings and her bearing them with greater fortitude and, eventually, Shree Swasthani rescuing her from her troubles and agonies, are explained.

Lord Shiva’s wife sanctifying her soul summons Goddess Swasthani by power of her prayer and harbor the deity in her soul which enable her to bear all kinds of pain and sufferings – the sufferings which befell on her due to Lord Shiva’s hatred towards his wife Satidevi. Despite undergoing sufferings, as in state of purgation, Sati Devi ultimately wins Lord Shiva who eventually shower love and affections towards his wife and take her to his abode in Kailash Parbat where they settle and live together.
The Swasthani Brata-Katha virtually conveys the message that even those in divine province too, suffered worldly pains and agonies, and it is Shree Swasthani who rescued them when demons and demi-Gods perpetrated atrocities against them. In this way, Shree Swasthani stands a deity of the deities. Equally, the earthly humans too, can rely on her divine helping hands provided they too, pray in state of solemnity with purity of their souls.
Though wishes are widely believed to be fulfilled and, troubles alleviated, the rituals required for strict adherence may not always be easy for materialistic and luxury-loving human folks.
In Hinduism, self-sacrificing attitude, denial of materialistic comfort, and renunciation of worldly pleasure are mostly sought and widely emphasized virtues in humans for redemption and salvation. And. Observing Shree Swasthani Brata-Katha with seriousness of purposes, not exceptionally, requires a lot of austerity.
Before setting oneself for observing the Shree Swasthani Brata-Katha, which lasts for a complete one month, one must purge himself a day in advance by cutting his nails, trimming his hair and taking only one satwik (vegetarian) meal a day. The next day – the beginning day of Shree Swasthani Brata-Katha- one, committed to observe the brata in utmost austerity required by rituals, should pledge in heart that he or she would continue it until the completion of the story.
Then, right from that day for a complete one month, one must sleep on floor, must not quarrel with any one no matter what arises, must speak no ills against any body & must keep both mind and heat purged and pure.

Early morning shower is a must to keep oneself clean, then after, refreshing oneself, the pooja (worshipping) of Shree Swasthani begins. In the afternoon, all required holy stuffs for pooja must be ready for the evening chanting of brata-katha.

The routine shouldn’t break. It should go on uninterrupted for a month form the date of commencement. Every day, after the Sun set, before supper or even after supper, the brata-katha episode must be read aloud amid the gathering of family members and neighbors, who are expected to listen to them in a state of solemnity. At the completion of chanting hymes, the phool-prasada (holy flowers and fruits) are to be distributed among all those listening to brata-katha. Shree Swasthani’s blessings are showered not only on the one reading aloud the tales but equally on those who listen to it.

On the concluding day of brata-katha, after the completion of the month, the final ritual takes place. On that day, on a copper plate, holy symbol of Om Kar is to be painted and a Shiva Linga of holy sand is to be erected on it. Later, in state of solemnity, with required holy worshipping stuffs, pooja (worshipping) of Shiva Linga takes place. In this way, Shree Swasthani Brata-Katha comes to an end.







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