N24 Correspondent, KATHMANDU:- The Shree Swasthani Bratakatha, a popular month-long ritual of fasting and recitation of Swasthani script observed by the Hindus since Poush Shuklapurnima kicked off on Thursday. The month-long festival is usually observed from the full moon day of one month to the next full moon day.
Going by the tradition, Nepalis, especially the Hindu women, observe the festival by worshiping Goddess Swasthani and observing fasting and reading out the holy story book-Swasthani -which mainly narrates the stories of those of Goddess Swasthani, God Shiva and other deities. Devotees- married and unmarried alike- take a holy bath to begin with the ritual and wear clean clothes, trim nails and perform worship rituals in the morning thereafter reading out the stories and take austere meals in the afternoon throughout the month.
Devotees also observe fasting and involve in extensive worships during the period to appease Goddess Swasthani described in the Skanda Purana, a holy text, as the Goddess having four-handed with Chakra, Trident, Lotus and Sword in each hand, according to the Nepal Calendar Determination Committee Chairman Prof Dr Ramchandra Gautam. The Skanda Purana depicts Goddess Swasthani having three-eyes and rides on lion, added Dr Gautam.
It is believed that the married women who observe the fast would be blessed with longevity for their spouses while unmarried ones are bestowed with suitable marriage partners. Women wear red clothes and bangles during the one-month period, as it is believed that red colour brings them good luck. The rituals associated with the Swasthani Katha takes place on the bank of rivers in various Hindu shrines across the country including the Shalinadi situated in Shankhu, the north-east outskirt of the Kathmandu Valley. Historian Prakash Shrestha ‘Saka’ shared that a total of 49 devotees-35 female and 14 male have assembled in Shalinadi to observe the fasting this year. The Madhav Narayan Fair, however, would not be organized this year due to risks of Coronavirus infection, he said.
Likewise, Shree Madhav Narayan Swasthani Brata and Shalinadi Reform Committee Chairperson Mijendakaji Shrestha shared that antigen tests were conducted on the devotees and they had tested negative for the COVID-19. Last year around 400 devotees had observed fasting in the Madhav Narayan Festival that also goes for a month, according to Chairperson Shrestha. He added that the devotees coming to Shalinadi for the Swasthani Bratakatha fasting had also been tested for pneumonia.
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