KATHMANDU, Jan 1: The Shree Swasthani Brata Katha, a popular ritual observed by the Hindus since Poush Shukla Purnima (full moon day), has begun from today. The festival ends a month after in Magh Shukla Purnima.
Nepalis, especially the Hindu women, observe the month-long festival worshiping four-handed deity Swasthani with Chakra, Trishul, Sword and Lotus in each hand at the centre while Astha Matrika or eight deities of power Mahakali, Vaishnavi, Brahmi Maheshwari, Kaumeshwari, Barahi, Indrayani, and Chamunda painted around her and reciting Swasthani Brat Katha (story) everyday.
The month-long telling ritual is dedicated to the goddess and the stories that are mainly narrated are those of Swasthani Devi, God Shiva and other gods.
It is believed that goddess Swasthani helped goddess Sati overcome her troubles after she burnt herself at Dakhsya Prajapati’s Yagya, after hearing her husband, Lord Shiva, being insulted.
As per this legend goddess Swasthani helped Sati Devi overcome the troubles and then to reincarnate and win over Lord Shiva as her husband again.
During the Swasthani katha, Hindu married women observe Brata or fasting for the wellbeing of their husbands and unmarried women observe the Brata in order to get a good husband. Women wear red colored clothes and bangles during the one-month period as it is believed that red is a sign of good luck.
The rituals associated with the Swasthani Katha takes place on the bank of rivers in various Hindu shrines across the country.
In Kathmandu, the festival takes place at Shalinadi, a river associated with the Swasthani Brata Katha, situated in Sankhu. Devotees visit Salinadi bank near Sankhu, worship goddess Shree Swasthani, Navaraj Brahman, Goma Brahmani, Chandrawati by visiting different shrines.
Hindus also observed Maghesnan or Makarsnan (holy bath) from today itself.