Browsing articles in "Maagh (Jan-Feb)"

Lhosar

Swayambhunath at night, Kathmandu, Nepal
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Lhosar is the celebration of the New Year various Buddhist communities in Nepal. The word meaning of ‘Lho’ is year and sar, the new. Hence, Lhosar indicates the beginning of new year and farewell to the old. Lhosar is the principle festival of the community belonging to the Tibeto-Burman language family and followers of Mahayana Buddhism like Sherpa, Tamang, Gurung, Yolmo and Bhotia. The monasteries in Kathmandu are thronged by the Buddhists during this festival.

Lhosar in Kathmandu is observed in monasteries like Swayambhunath and Boudhanath. The Buddhists join the mirth of the festival. They dress in their traditional apparel and gather with the family members and friends to celebrate the joyous occasion. They take part in several cultural activities like dancing and singing. The songs gradually rise in pitch and are sung in unison.

The dance performances during celebration of Lhosar in Kathmandu are enjoyed by the people. The dances often have symbolic connotations. The monks also participate in the auspicious dances and they dress up in gorgeous silk dresses. The monks generally perform a special type of slow dance. The songs and dances are accompanied by horns and cymbals.

There are three types of Lhosar, each distinct from the other in the manner of celebration. Tola Lhosar, Sonam Lhosar and Gyalbo Lhosar. Tola Lhosar is familiar amongst the Gurung community and it coincides with Paush Shukla Pakchhya of Nepali calender. Sonam Lhosar is celebrated by the Tamang and Yolmo communities and it falls under the Maagh Shukla Pakchhya. Similarly Gyalbo Lhosar is the festival of the Sherpa, Tibetan communities living in the hilly terrain and occurs in the month of Falgun Shukla Pakchhya. Even though different communities celebrate Lhosar in different ways, the ultimate goal is one – welcoming the New Year and bidding farewell to the old.

Basanta Panchami

Painting of the Goddess Saraswati by Raja Ravi...
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Basanta Panchami or Saraswati Puja or Shree Panchami is a day to celebrate the birthday of Saraswati – the Goddess of Learning. This day falls between January/February. This is a day when people from school students to scholars worship their pens and books to please the Goddess and expect her favor in their studies so they become wise and knowledgeable. People also throng around the idol of Goddess Saraswati, especially in Swayambhunath and offer flowers, sweets, fruits, etc. On this day, small children are taught to read and write and people write on the stones and slabs with chalks and pencils. Devotees, students, writers, scholars, singers, weavers, craftsmen and others worship their books, pens, ink bottles, tools etc. on this sacred day as they make offerings to Goddess Saraswati with sweets, flowers and rice.

Basanta Panchami and Saraswati Puja celebrations in Nepal welcome the advent of spring, flowers, gaiety and good fortune. The people of Nepal believe that Basanta Panchami is one of the most auspicious dates for beginning a newly married life. Children in between the ages of 5 to 7 are made to utter their first alphabet on the auspicious Basant Panchami day.

Saraswati Bandana Mantra

Saraswati Vandana Mantra is an important hindu mantra that is recited for higher knowledge and wisdom.

या कुंदेंदु तुषारहार धवला, या शुभ्र वस्त्रावृता |
या वीणावर दण्डमंडितकरा, या श्वेतपद्मासना ||
या ब्रह्माच्युतशंकरप्रभ्रृतिभिर्देवै: सदा वन्दिता |
सा मां पातु सरस्वती भगवती नि:शेष जाड्यापहा ||

Transliteration

Yaa Kundendu tushaara haara-dhavalaa,
Yaa shubhra-vastra’avritaa
Yaa veena-vara-danda-manditakara,
Yaa shweta padma’asana
Yaa brahma’achyuta shankara prabhritibhir Devai-sadaa Vanditaa
Saa Maam Paatu Saraswati Bhagavatee Nihshesha jaadyaa-pahaa.
Shuklam Brahm Vichar Saar parma Madhyam Jagadvyapini,
Haste Sphatik Malikam Kamlam Padmasane Sanstitaam .
Vandetam Parmeshwari Bhagwati…..
Saa maam Paatu Saraswati Bhagwati Buddhi Pradam Shardam.

Translation

She, who is as fair as the Kunda flower,the moon, and a garland of Tushar flowers;
She, whose hands are adorned by the excellent veena, and whose seat is the pure white lotus;
She, who is constantly praised and glorified by Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh and other divinities;
O Mother Goddess, remove my mental inertia!

Maaghe Sankranti

These 'tilguls', traditional marathi laddoos e...
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Maaghe Sankranti is a Nepalese festival observed on the first of Maagh in the Bikram Sambat Nepali calendar (about January 14) bringing an end to the ill-omened month of Poush when all religious ceremonies are forbidden. On this day, the sun is believed to leave its southernmost position and begin its northward journey. Maaghe Sankranti is similar to solstice festivals in other religious traditions. On this day pilgrims swarm in at river confluence for a holy dip in the water, despite freezing temperature. Some resort to only sprinkling water above their head because of the cold. In addition to the customary sacred plunge by the brave at heart, this year it is a solar eclipse on this day, which supports the holy practice of taking dip in the river after the eclipse. Devotees, many of them are elderly, take holy dips at the convergence points at Devghat, Baraha Kshetra, Triveni, Dolalghat, Sankhamool and other sites all across Nepal. Big religious fair are held on this day at Devghat (near Narayanghat) and Kankai (in Jhapa district) where many people gather for the spiritual feel by worshipping the shrines. Many travel around for fun from different parts of Nepal and India.

In addition to holy bathing and worship of shrines, this festival carries along with it different items to eat so that it will lead to a healthier life ahead. Specially, Ghyu (clarified butter) is used to cook many items as it is religiously accepted notion that the use of ghyu wipes all the impurity. Teel Laddus (sesame seeds ball mixed with jaggery and rounded), Ghya-Chaaku (assemblage of ghee and chaaku – a popular condiment of Newar community), Shakkharkhand (sweet potato), Tarool (Yam), Khichadi (mixture of rice and lentils with clarified butter as the thickener) are the special menu items for this day. It is a normal customary in Nepal to invite married daughters and close relatives during festivities, and Maaghe Sankranti is not an exception. Families come together and share these delights. There is yet another tradition of massaging the body with mustard oil and then basking in the sun with the idea of keeping the body warm and relaxed in this cold day.

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