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Shree Swasthani Vrata for fulfilling one’s
Rising Nepal: By Arun Ranjit ,
Nepal is a country rich in age-old art, culture, and heritage. It is the
land with a heady mixture of unique and scenic nature and diverse culture.
The peaceful coexistence of multiple-religions and the age-old tradition are
unique among the cultures of Nepal.
Nepal’s culture and other artistic objects are dynamic, enthralling events
for all. Nepal’s vivid cultures are an invaluable resource, one which
Nepalese are striving to preserve.
Among many festivals Shree Swasthani Brata Katha is one of them. The solemn
worshipping of Goddess Shree Swasthani (the Hindu deity known for
miraculously granting wishes made in solemn state by pure souls) in every
Hindu household begins on third week of January (Poush Shukla Poornima)
according to Hindu Vedic calendar.
The month long telling of tales of Lord Shiva and many other gods and
goddess focusing on the Goddess Swasthani was started on 25th of January
this year and is to complete on 23rd of February— coming Wednesday.
To mark this Swasthani Katha, women take brata (fasting) for the wellbeing
of their husbands or in order to get a good moral husband, for a month long,
wearing every thing red which is a sign of good luck for Nepalese women.
The month long holy occasion takes place on the bank of rivers. However, in
Kathmandu the festival takes place at Salinadi, a well-known and related
river with the Swasthani brata katha, situated in Sankhu, the eastern part
Besides this, notwithstanding the chilly winter, every member of a family
infallibly gathers in a room, clean and sanctified, in the morning or
evening (suitable accordingly) 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 Guru read aloud the Brata Katha.
Innumerable episodes, a breakdown in thirty-one chapters, depicting the
Bhaktas’ (devotees’) sufferings, and later, being redeemed, in a state of
salvation, are read aloud and solemnly listened to by everyone in the winter
evening with the Guru or the elderly member chanting the hymns in Sanskrit
languages or translated version in vernacular Nepali usually do so in a
state of fasting so as to purge themselves for the holy purposes while
others listen to him in a spellbound manner.
The Shree Swasthani Barta Katha as the holy ceremony is sacredly called, is
widely observed by people of Hindu belief.
An unflinching belief coupled with high reverence to the deity among Hindu
perhaps, remain a strong force of motivation. The belief that any one
observing the holy ceremony for a month is attains a state of purity and
solemnity by strictly adhering to the rituals prescribed and will have
his/her wishes, what so ever, granted. This has added to the seriousness of
Goddess Shree Swasthani is portrayed as a four-handed deity with charka,
trishul, sword and lotus in each hand sitting at the centre while Asta
Matrika eight deities of power) namely Mahakali, Baishanavi, Brahmi
Maheswari, Kaumeshori, Barahi, Indrayani and Chamunda remain around her.
The Brata-Katha (tales related to miraculous feats performed by goddess
Swasthani), not merely enlist the omniscient Goddess’ miraculous presence at
the 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, episodes 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 harbour the deity in her soul, which enables her to bear all
kinds of pain and sufferings the sufferings, which befell on her due to Lord
Shiva’s approach towards his wife Satidevi.
Despite undergoing sufferings as in the state of purgation, Satidevi
ultimately wins Lord Shiva who eventually showers love and affections
towards his wife and take her to his abode in Kailash Parbat where finally
they settle and live together.
The tales virtually convenes 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 a
deity of the deities.
Equally, the unearthly 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 adherences may not always be easy for
materialistic and luxury-loving human folks.
Before sitting oneself for observing the Shree Swasthani Brata Katha, one
must purge himself a day in advance by cutting his nails, trimming his hair
and taking only one swatik (vegetarian) meal a day.
The next day-the beginning day of Shree Swasthani Brata Katha –one who
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.
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 complete one month from the date of commencement.
Every day after the Sunset, before supper or even after supper, the brata
katha episodes must be read aloud amid the gatherings of family members and
neighbours, who are expected to listen to them, in a state of solemnity.
However, some people also tell the tales in the morning too.
At the completion of chanting hymns, the phool prasad (holy flower and
fruits) are to be distributed among all those listening to brata katha.
Shree Swasthani’s blessing is showered not only on those reading aloud the
tales but also 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, pooja
(worshipping) of Shiva Linga takes place, in this way Shree Swasthani Barta
Katha comes to end.
Nepal’s festivals rooted in the country’s history, mythology and religion,
honour and propitiate the multitude of gods, controls malicious spirits, or
celebrates mythological victories over evil. Above all, a festival is a
social occasion and an affirmation of the ancient and strong bonds of
religion and culture.
Thus, sharing every country’s cultural aspects will promote in genuine
expressions of country’s richness on cultures and religions.
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