CULTURE: Dasain begins ‘officially’ with Fulpati, today – the systematic and ultimate triumph of Good over Evil, as always ?!!
From Himal News
By Gorkhs Daju
Bad things sometimes happen to Good people and ‘vice versa’ … But so what, no big deal ? That’s the way life just is. Dasain or Dashera officially starts with Fulpati today. It is always a celebration of the ultimate triumph of ‘Good over Evil’. May all the Indian Gorkha and Nepalese people worldwide, you and me, celebrate this Dasain with the firm faith that Good will always triumph. Because, “what’s Bad about being Good”. We, the Gorkhas of India seek your love and blessings always …. HAPPY DAISAIN and VIJAY DASHAMI one & all…. writes Gorkhs Daju.
Darjeeling, October 14, 2010: Hindu devotees, particularly the Indian Gorkhas – across the two nations of India and Nepal as well as throughout the world, are observing the day of Fulpati today amidst religious ceremonies and festivities.
Fulpati (Sacred Flowers) is the first really important day of Dasain and is called the ‘Seventh Day’. A jar (kalas) containing flowers is prepared and kept in every Gorkha Hindu Home. The flowers symbolise Taleju (the ancient resident Goddess of virtue and bravery in the face of adversity).
The flowers are then, along with Jamara (sacred Jahu seeds planted 7 days earlier on Ghatasthapna) are paraded and then preserved for the big day of Tika. Four days later on the 17th of October 2010. (These dates may vary from year to year according to the Hindu / Gorkha Lunar Calendar).
On the day of Fulpati, the seventh day of Navaratri, an assortment of sacred shrubs are offered to Goddess Durga.
During the month of Kartik (late September and early October), the Hindu Gorkha people indulge in the biggest festival of the year, Dashain.
Dasain is the longest and the most auspicious festival in the Hindu / Gorkha annual calendar, celebrated by Gorkhas – of all caste and creed throughout the world.
The fifteen days of celebration occurs during the bright lunar fortnight ending on the day of the full moon. Thorough out the Hindu world the Goddess Durga in all her manifestations are worshiped with innumerable Pujas.
Dasain commemorates the great victory of the Gods over wicked Demons. One of the victory stories told is the Ramayana, where the lord Ram after a big struggle slaughtered Ravana, the fiendish king of Demons. It is said that lord Ram was successful in the battle only when Goddess Durga (also known as Kali) was evoked.
The main celebration glorifies the triumph of “good over evil” and is symbolized by Goddess Durga slaying the terrible Demon Mahisasur and his supporters, who terrorized the earth in the guise of a brutal water buffalo.
The first nine days signify the nine days of a ferocious battle between Goddess Durga and the Demon Mahisasur. The tenth day is the day when Mahisasur was slain and the last five days symbolize the celebration of the victory with the blessing of the Goddess.
Dashain is celebrated with great rejoice, and Goddess Durga is worshiped throughout the Hindu world and the Gorkha people as the Divine Mother Goddess.
In preparation for Dashain every home is cleansed and beautifully decorated, painted as an invitation to the mother goddess, so that she may visit and bless the house with good fortune.
During this time, the reunion of distant and nearby relatives occurs in every household. The market is filled with shoppers seeking new clothing, gifts, luxuries and enormous supplies of temple offering for the Gods, as well as the most delectable treats for the family feasting.
Thousands of sheep, goats, ducks, chicken and buffalo are prepared for the great slaughter. All types of organizations are closed for ten to fifteen days. Labourers are almost impossible to find; from the poor to the rich, all enjoy the festive mood. Anywhere you go the aroma of ‘Vijaya Dashami’ is found.
The first nine days of Dashain are called Nawa Ratri when tantric rites are conducted. In the Gorkha culture the life force is embodied in the divine energy and power of the female, depicted as Goddess Durga in her many forms. Goddess Durga is also a manifestation of Parvati, the beloved wife of Shiva. All Goddesses who emanated from Goddess Durga are known as Devis, each with their own unique virtues and powers.
In most Mother Goddess temples the deity is represented simply as a sacred Kalash, carved water jug or multiple handed Goddess holding murderous weapons. During these nine days people pay their homage to the Goddess. If she is properly worshiped and pleased, good fortunes are her blessings and if angered through neglect then misfortunes occur. Mother Goddess Durga is the source of life and everything.
The first day of Dashain is called Ghatasthapana, which literally means pot establishing. On this day the kalash, (holy water vessel) symbolizing goddess Durga often with her image embossed on the side is placed in the prayer room.
The kalash is filled with holy water and covered with cowdung on to which ‘jahu’ seeds are sown. A small rectangular sand block is made and the kalash is put in the centre. The surrounding bed of sand is also seeded with grains. The ghatasthapana ritual is performed at a certain auspicious moment determined by the astrologers. At that particular moment the priest intones a welcome, requesting Goddess Durga to bless the vessel with her presence.
The room where the kalash is established is called ‘Dashain Ghar’. A priest or a senior household man worships the kalash everyday once in the morning and then in the evening. The kalash and the mud with maize or jahu seeds are sprinkled with holy water everyday and it is shielded from direct sunlight. By the tenth day, the seed grows to five or six inches long yellow-grren grass. The sacred yellow-green grass is called ‘Jamara’. It is bestowed by the elders atop the heads of those younger to them during the last five days when tika is put on. The jamara is taken as a token of Goddess Durga as well as the elders blessing.
As days pass by, regular rituals are observed till the seventh day. The seventh day is called ‘Fulpati’. On this day the jamara to be used by the household is brought from their ancestral house. A parade is held all around. The Fulpati, i.e. the procession bearing the jamara and other items necessary for the tika, is brought from different places meticulously attired in the traditional formal dress.
On Fulpati, the kalash filled with holy water, banana stalks, jamara and sugar cane tied with red cloth is carried. Once the Fulpati is taken inside the Dashain ghar the Dasain feasting starts.
The eighth day is called the ‘Maha Astami’. The fervor of worship and sacrifice to Durga and Kali increases. On this day many orthodox Hindus will be fasting.
Sacrifices are held in almost every house through out the day. The night of the eighth day is called ‘Kal Ratri’, the dark night. Hundreds of goats, sheep and buffaloes are sacrificed at the mother goddess temples. In the darkness of the night Durga temples, police barrack in Darjeeling, and old palaces all over Darjeeling hold sacrifices for the mother goddess. The sacrifice continues till dawn.
The ninth day is called ‘Nawami’. Temples of mother goddess are filled with people from dawn till dusk. On this very day the God Vishwa Karma (the God of creativity) is also worshiped. The tenth day is the ‘Dashami’.
On this day people take tika and jamara from our elders and receive their blessing. Hindu people, particularly the Gorkhas worldwide visit their elders in their homes and get tika and blessings from them while the younger ones come to the home of the elders to receive blessing from them.
The importance of Dasain also lies in the fact that on this day family members from far off, as well as distant relatives come for a visit and to receive tika and blessings from the head of the family.
This function continues on for four days. After four days of rushing around and meeting relatives Dashain ends on the full moon night, the fifteenth day.
Hill puja evokes 95-year-old memories – not giving a hoot about evil colonialist hegemony problems this Dasain ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, Oct. 13: The dhakis have started to drum up the evenings in Darjeeling, bringing alive a journey that started 95 years ago with the hoot of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
The Durga Puja at Shree Mandir, also known as the Gopal Mandir at the Nripendra Narayan Bengali Hindu Hall, is considered one of the oldest in the region and the fervour with which the celebrations had started in 1915 is continuing even today.
“Earlier, the idols used to be brought from Krishnagar to Siliguri. From there, they would be taken to Darjeeling on toy train. It took three-four days for the idols to reach here,” said Subasis Sengupta, the secretary of Shree Mandir.
Two engines were used at the rear and front of the toy train to negotiate the hilly terrain.
“From the 1950s, the idol is being made in Siliguri. It used to be made by Late Umesh Paul and after his death the idols are being sculpted by Debesh Paul,” said Sengupta.
Such is the fame of the puja that luminaries like Sister Nivedita, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Acharya J.C. Bose and the revolutionary Bagha Jatin have all paid a visit.
Old timers recall that K.L. Saigal, the legendary singer, had also once offered pushpanjali at the Durga puja.
Every aspect of this Darjeeling puja is laced with history.
Bisarjan (immersion of the idol) was accompanied by a police band and the procession used to halt at the Burdwan Palace where the maharaja would offer a mohor (gold coin)to the goddess. The idol would be immersed at Kakjhora near Darjeeling town.
Things have changed now. The police band and the maharaja are no longer there to accompany the procession and to offer the gold coin.
“We now immerse the idol at Sonada,” said Sengupta.
The puja is organised by the Nripendra Narayan Bengali Hindu (NNBH) Hall committee. The Shree Mandir is housed in the NNBH, and hence the puja is referred to as the NNBH Hall Durga puja.
In 1890, a five-member trust board was formed to build the hall. On January 14, 1891, land was allotted for the hall by the Darjeeling Municipality and Nripendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur, the maharaja of Cooch Behar, donated Rs 1,000. Subsequently, Rs 40,000 was collected to build the structure.
On April 29, 1906, the hall was damaged in a blaze. It was rebuilt by 1908.
Shree Mandir is known for exotic lacquer work and wooden frescos and the main idol is a monolithic Narayan.
There are also other idols of Kali and Radha Krishna at the temple. Akchala Thakur (goddess Lakshmi, Ganesh, Kartik and Saraswati are part of a single structure), is brought to the pandal during Durga Puja.
“As in the olden days, we still have cultural shows, dramas and bhog on Saptami, Ashtami and Navami,” said Sengupta. As far as the cultural show is concerned, the only thing that is missing is “a special ladies gallery” with a net in front for women to watch the programme with ghomtas.
Harmony in ethnic looks – Bengal trying its best to put on a brave face, good for harmony in a secular India after a 63 year old cultural subjugation ‘boo-boo’ ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY BIRESWAR BANERJEE
Siliguri, Oct. 13: At a time the region has witnessed strife between the communities, a club near Siliguri has come up with idols dressed in different ethnic attires, sending a message of social harmony to the pandal-hoppers.
At the Agam Singh Giri Nagar Gram Sewa Samiti pandal at Pintail Village, 7km from here, the idols of Kartik, Ganesh, Lakshmi and Saraswati have been given looks of different communities living in the region. Durga idol, however, will be in the traditional form.
“Our aim is to send a message of social harmony and assimilation through our puja so that we can prove our oneness and strengthen the motto of unity in diversity,” said Ajay Tamang, the secretary of the samiti.
“After considering the differences that have cropped up among different communities in the region, we have decided to organise the puja on the theme of togetherness and harmony,” said the committee secretary.
Bhola Pal, a local artisan who was asked to translate the ideas into reality, has completed the idols.
“When the organisers told me about the idea, it appeared little surprising to me. But later I thought that I would not change the traditional image of Durga who is the supreme mother of all. But I have thought of giving ethnic looks to other gods and goddesses who are the children of Durga. After all, all children are equal before a mother,” Pal said.
The artisan said Ganesh would be in a common Bengali outfit of dhoti and shawl, while Kartik would be dressed in gamchha and short dhoti, much like a tribal man in the region.
“The attire of Saraswati will be in chaubandi choli-fariya, the traditional dress of Gorkha women, and Lakshmi will be draped with a sari with a look of a Rajbangshi woman,” he added.