The Shree Swasthani Bratakatha, a popular month-long ritual of fasting and recitation of Swasthani script observed by the Hindus since Poush Shuklapurnima (full moon day) kicked off on Friday.
Nepalis, especially the Hindu women, observe the month-long festival by worshiping Swasthani, observing fasting and reading out the holy story book-Swasthani -which mainly narrates the stories of those of Swasthani Devi, God Shiva and other gods.
Nepal Calendar Determination Committee Chairman Prof Dr Ramchandra Gautam explained,"Goddess Swasthani is described in Skanda Purana, a holy text, as a four-handed Goddess having Chakra, Trident, Lotus and Sword in each hand. She has three-eyes and rides on lion."
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.
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.
The legend is that Goddess Swasthani helped goddess Sati overcome her troubles after she burnt herself at Dakhsya Prajapati's Yagya, after hearing her husband, lord Shiva, unable to come to terms with scorn for her spouse-Lord Shiva.
The Goddess Swasthani also helped Sati Devi face trials and tribulations, then win over Lord Shiva as her husband again.
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.
Meanwhile, a month-long Madhav Narayan Fair also began on Friday on the same occasion in Sankhu, which is also an ancient town, according to historian Prakash Shrestha 'Saka'.
Source: National News Agency Nepal