Chaurchan and Ganesh Chaturthi marked


By Laxmi Chaudhary in Janakpurdham & Aashish Mishra

Kathmandu, Sept. 19: In addition to Teej, Monday was also the day for Chauthchandra, marked by people across Mithilanchal with great reverence and devotion . 

 Locally called Chaurchan, the festival is observed every year on the fourth day of the bright fortnight of the Nepali month of Bhadra (Bhadra Shukla Chaturthi) by worshipping the moon. Normally, it would have fallen on the day after Teej (Tritiya) but the overlap  of lunar days (Tithis) caused the two festivities to occur on the same day this year.

According to religious lore, the moon that rises on Chaurchan bears a ‘flaw’. That is why we should not look at it empty-handed. Rather, it is customary to offer rice pudding (Kheer), Puri, fruits, sweets and yogurt to the lunar god to ensure that its flaw does not tarnish us.

People also keep a fast on this day. Those who fast draw auspicious symbols (Aripan) on their lawns with rice flour and place banana leaves on them. They then put the prepared food items on the leaves and light incense and lamps around the Aripan. The men participating in the worshipping ceremony gather around the drawn symbols and receive the food items on them as Prasad.

Ganga Devi Sah of Janakpurdham Sub-Metropolitan City–8, who has been observing Chaurchan for the past five years, informed that Kheer and Puri were the main Prasad of the festival. Meanwhile, the needed yogurt is made in a new earthen pot a day before . 

Bananas, maize and coconuts and other seasonal fruits are a must-have for Chaurchan, Sah said. 

According to culture expert Parameshwor Kapadi, Chaurchan is an important folk festival of Mithila. The region has its own culture and rituals which is why, despite being a Vedic deity, is also prayed to as a folk god. 

Kapadi said, “The moon is considered a paternal god. And women also worship it as the divinity that provides a long and healthy life to their families.”

Kapadi also clarified that Chaurchan was not a festival of a particular caste or ethnic group only.

Chaurchan is a festival that reminds us that gods can be vain and petty too. Stories have it  that once upon a time, an arrogant Moon, proud of his unblemished beauty, ridiculed Lord Ganesh for his flabby  build. 

This angered the son of Mahadev and Parvati and he proceeded to curse the narcissistic Moon. He decreed that those who looked at him would have to bear unnecessary accusations. 

The story is also told in Kathmandu Valley. However, here it is more specific about the accusation. In Kathmandu’s version, Ganesh announced that those who looked at the Moon would be accused of thievery. 

The curse stuck and people started avoiding the Moon completely. This made him realise his mistake and he repented. He begged Lord Ganesh for forgiveness and, as a result, got his sentence reduced. In the end, because he regretted his actions, Ganesh made it so that only those who looked at the moon on Bhadra Shukla Chaturthi would be branded a thief. 

This is why people in the valley close their windows and doors and make sure that they do not even accidentally gaze at Earth’s satellite this evening. 

But if one still mistakenly catches a glimpse of the big white sphere in the night sky, they must drink the water purified by the recitation of this incantation, “Simha: Prasenmawadhit Simho Jambabata Hata:, Sukumarak Maa Rodistwa Hwesh Shyamantaka” if they do not want to face an allegation of stealing. This incantation means “For this gem, the lion has killed Prasena (son of Nighna and brother of Satrajit), and Jambavan (king of bears) has killed the lion. So do not cry. Now you have the right to this Syamantaka gem.”

This is mentioned in the Brahmavaivarta Puran.

Similarly, some Newa families of Kathmandu also celebrated the Chatha: festival on Monday. 

Chatha:, or Ganesh Chaturthi, commemorates the birth of Lord Ganesh and is celebrated by Hindus all over the world. However, due to the same jumbling of Tithis that brought Chaurchan and Teej on the same day, some households are observing the festival on Tuesday.

Chatha: is considered the harbinger of Dashain and it is believed that those who celebrate this occasion in a grand and merry manner will be able to celebrate Dashain in the same way .

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