Saturday, 30 April 2016

Z for Zagor

Zagor is an age old traditional festival in Siolim area of Goa, in which Hindus and Christians jointly celebrate the harvest.

Siolim is a small hamlet thirty minutes away from the famous Calangute beach of Goa, On the first Monday after Christmas, Hindu and Christian residents of the waddo, or hamlet, of Dando congregate on an open plot of land to keep a night-long vigil and appease the deity who is believed to protect the village. The zagor, or wake, begins with prayers that are unmistakably Christian, though the sing-song chants are said to have been drawn from the abhangs of Sant Tukaram, Maharashtra's poet-saint. And the wizened priest leading the congregation is a Hindu villager from the toddy-tapper caste who does this just once a year.

Zagor - Night wake

The main priests' annual ritual is preceded by 40 days of abstinence when he stays away from non-vegetarian food and prepares for the zagor with prayers and rehearsals with the villagers. The proceedings begin with a procession from the house of his neighbours, with a coconut ritually offered to the deity. The procession halts at wayside crosses and Hindu shrines, including St Annae's chapel. Traditionally, three hymns are sung by Hindus and Christians at the chapel before the procession moves on. Then the Hindus make offerings of oil while the Catholics offer candles at the chapel.
At prayers before Zagorio, as the formless deity is called, the priest offers salutations to the unity of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The ritual five hymns are followed by traditional dances and folk theatre enacted by the villagers, hereditary participants whose roles are inherited through generations which marks the essence of the main celebration. Principal characters like the firangi-raja (white lord), mali (gardener), malin (gardener's wife), mahar (untouchable), etc, represent Goan society as it evolved through the years.

Zagor procession

The all-night vigil is also helped by the Konkani tiatr, or theatre, where skits on political and social issues are performed.

Musical performance

People offer oil, candles and even cigarettes and feni (a local intoxicant) in thanksgiving. The khazan-style of agriculture unique to this region enables paddy cultivation, Pisciculture and salt manufacture on the same land, by regulating the ingress of seawater.

With the Siolim zagor now firmly on the tourist agenda, hereditary participants in the zagor have money in their pockets. The festival is now facing its problem with communism and moving towards extinction. Growing prosperity, though, poses a bigger danger. With the spread of education, entire Catholic families are migrating out thereby altering the colour of the zagor.

Aditya Sinha

That’s for today with Z. 

So I have cleared the challenge ---- HURRAH ! 
For my parallel second Challenge blog with A pls visit : Let the Soul Pour

For other A to Z challenge blogs visit : A to Z Challenge 2016

Friday, 29 April 2016

Y for Yamdwitiya

Bhai Dooj

Yama Dwitiya is observed on the second day of the waxing phase of moon (Shukla Paksha) in Kartik month and is one of the last celebrations during Diwali. It falls after two days of Diwali. Yama Dwitiya is also known as Bhai Dhooj or Bhav Bij or Bhai Beej and Bhai Teeka, Godhan. Yam Dvitiya is associated with Lord Yama, the Hindu god of Death, visiting his sister Yami and is thus a symbol of love between brothers and sisters.

Mythological Reference

Legend has it that Lord Yama, the Hindu God of Death, visited his sister, Yami, on the first day of the Shukla Paksha in Kartik month after Diwali. Yami welcomed her brother with garlands and by applying the auspicious tilak or Tika on his forehead. Then the brother and sister exchanged gifts. Yami also served Yamraj his favorite dishes. Yamraj who was overwhelmed by the love of his sister is believed to have said to Yami that who receives Tilak or Tika from his sister will have to never suffer hell. Since then Yama Dwitiya is observed as a symbol of love between brothers and sisters.

Mythology also believes, after slaying the evil demon Narkasur, Lord Krishna visited his sister Subhadra who gave him a warm welcome with sweets and flowers. She also affectionately applied tilak on Krishna's forehead and thus the origin of the festival.


The celebrations of this day are similar to the festival of Raksha Bandhan (another festival of Hindu as a symbol of love between brother and sister where by the sister ties Rakhi on the wrist of brother and the brother vows to protect sister lifelong). 


Differentiation in Rakshabandhan and Bhai Dooj is that in the former Sister ties as special thread on wroist of brother called Rakhi, while in Bhai Dooj, sisters pray for a long and happy life for their brothers, by performing the Tika ceremony.

Sister performing Tika on Bhai Dooj

On the day of the festival, ladies / girls and all sisters do a collective tika puja of Yamdivitiya and the sweets & dry fruits used in this puja is used as prasad for their brothers along with other sweets. The sisters invite their brothers for a sumptuous meal often including their favourite dishes/sweets. The whole ceremony signifies the duty of a brother to protect his sister, as well as a sister's blessings for her brother. In return brothers bless their sisters and treat them also with gifts or cash. Bhai Dooj is a time for family reunions as all brothers and sisters in the family get together. Close relatives and friends are also invited to celebrate the Bhai Dooj in many families.

Godhan (Bhai Dooj) as called in Bihar where ladies performing Tika puja collectively.

The Kayastha Community also celebrates Chitragupta Puja or Dawat  Puja on this day. And it is believed that performing Choitragupta Puja in married sister’s house brings prosperity. The puja involves worship of Chitragupta bhagwan and pen, pencils, inkpots etc. used for studies. It gains its name Dawat (Inkpot) puja from the same.

Important items associated with Chitragupta in his puja include the paper and pen, ink, along with other puja items The puja is often performed to Chitragupta in reverence of the four virtues he is seen to embody: justice, peace, literacy, and knowledge. Part of the Chitragupta puja also includes writing down how much money you make in your household, and how much you need to make to survive in the following year, while making offerings of turmeric, flowers, and vermilion

People performing Chitragupta Puja

Mythology Reference of Chitragupta Puja

The birthday of Chitragupta is celebrated on Yama Dwitiya and Chitragupta Jayanti Puja is performed on this day.

Chitragupta is a Hindu God assigned with the task of keeping complete records of actions of human beings on the earth. Upon their death, Chitragupta has the task of deciding heaven or the hell for the humans, depending on their actions on the earth. Chitragupta Maharaj (Chitragupta the King) is the patron deity of Kayasthas, a Hindu sect of India and Nepal. He is the son of Lord Brahma and holds a fairly special place in the Hindu pantheon because of the order of his birth.

Chitragupta & His sons - The Kayastha Family
Lord Brahma had many various sons and daughters in various myth structures, including many seers born of his mind, such as Vashishta, Narada, and Atri, and many sons born of his body, such as Dharma, Delusion, Lust, Death, and Bharata. The story of the birth of Chitragupta is related in different ways, but he is nearly always delineated differently from the other children of Lord Brahma, and a common thread is that he is born directly of Lord Brahma’s body.

In one popular version of the creation myth of Chitragupta, it is said that Lord Brahma gave the land of the dead over to the god Yama, also known as Dharamraj or Yamraj. Yama would become confused sometimes when dead souls would come to him, and would occasionally send the wrong souls to either heaven or hell. Lord Brahma commanded him to keep better track of everyone, and Yama declared that he could not reasonably be expected to keep track of the many people born of the eighty-four different life forms in the three worlds.

Lord Brahma, determined to solve this problem for Yama, sat in meditation for many thousands of years. Finally he opened his eyes, and a man stood before him with a pen and paper. As Chitragupta was born of Lord Brahma’s body, or kaya in Sanskrit, Brahma declared that his children would forever be known as Kayasthas. As he was first conceived in Brahma’s mind, or chitra, and then made whole in secrecy, or gupta, away from the other gods, he was named Chitragupta.

Chitragupta is sometimes also referred to as the first man to use letters, and is hailed that way in the Garud Puran. He is known as being incredibly meticulous, and with his pen and paper he tracks every action of every sentient life form, building up a record of them over the course of their life so that when they die the fate of their soul can be easily determined. These perfect and complete documents are referred to in mystical traditions as the Akashic records, and as they contain the actions of each person from birth to death, they can be said to contain every action taken in the universe.

Aditya Sinha

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Thursday, 28 April 2016

X for XMAS

Birth of Jesus Christ - Christmas

XMAS or Christmas is one of the most important festivals of Christians across the world and celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ and conveys his message of love, tolerance and brotherhood. It is a celebration of humanity and mankind. Though Christmas is a primary festival of the Christian calendar, it still has a special significance in everyone's life. It is celebrated as a universal festival throughout the nation. The first mention of 25th December as the birth date of Jesus occurred in 336 AD in an early Roman calendar. That day onwards, this date is celebrated as the birth date of Jesus. In India, this festival has a special significance since India is known for its unity in diversity worldwide. The celebration of Christmas shows that even people from different religions can take part in Christmas celebration. The day is also called Bara Din or BIG DAY.

Christmas Decoration and Merriment

People decorate their homes to the hilt with Christmas trees or Xmas tree wreathes with bright red decorative bulbs, bells and other small trinkets. People hang beautiful star-shaped paper lamps of various colours and sizes outside their homes.

Christmas tree and decoration

Nearly a week before Christmas, the church, club and school choirs start doing the rounds of their neighbourhood and are greeted by people with cakes and other eatables. Christmas carols are sung in the praise of Lord Jesus Christ.


Special Prayers

Churches hold a special 'midnight mass', attended by most people of the community. People especially look forward to this mass as this is not only a sacred prayer ceremony but an important social event as well. Men and women dress up in new clothes for taking part in the mass-special prayer session. The mass goes on for over a couple of hours and people fondly remember the 'Saviour' who gave up his life so that they may live.

Special Prayers at Church

The Festive Celebration

After the mass, people head off home on this hallowed night and children gambol on their way back, burning sparklers and bursting loads of crackers. Everyone sleeps with a peaceful easy feeling, as the next morning brings with it, the Big Day! On Christmas Day, people get ready for the biggest feast. Relatives and friends visit and wish each other by saying 'Happy Christmas' or 'Merry Christmas' and eat the haute cuisine especially prepared for the occasion. The entire Christian community gets together to have a jolly good time. 

Christ birth enactment
The delicious cake prepared especially for this occasion with rich addition of dry fruits is served to the guests along with other delicacies. 

Christmas Cake

The celebrations continue for a fortnight and ends in the first week of January. The churches whitewashed and decorated especially for this grand gala festival capture the attention of hundreds and thousands of people who visit these churches in large numbers. Though, Christmas comes to an end, it leaves people with more memories to cherish every year. Another common character synonymous with Christmas celebration is Santa Claus and distribution of gifts to children.

Santa distributing Gifts

Why is Christmas abbreviated as Xmas:

Xmas is a common abbreviation of the word Christmas. The "X" comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός, which in English is "Christ". The "-mas" part is from the Latin-derived Old English word for Mass. 

Aditya Sinha

That’s for today with X. Tomorrow it would be with Y.  

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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

W for Wangala


Wangala or Hundred Drum Festival (also known as Hundred Drums, Wanna, Wanna Rongchuwa) is a harvest festival celebrated by the Garo tribes, of Meghalaya & Assam in North East India and Greater Mymensingh in Bangladesh. They express their gratitude to the God and Goddess, called Misi Saljong, also known as Pattigipa Ra'rongipa (Sun-God), for blessing the people with a rich harvest. It falls in between September to December, the precise date being fixed by the headman.

Wangala Celebration

Wangala starts with Rugala and Sasat Sowa are rituals being celebrated on the first day performed inside the house of the Nokma (chief) of the village. Dama Gogata is celebrated on the last day. The rituals are followed by merry making.

Rugala tradition

A nagara (a special drum used for calling the people on solemn occasions) is beaten. The social celebration of the Wangala Festival goes on in the villages for a number of days, with eating, drinking and merrymaking. The men and women dance in mirthful gaiety with the beating of drums, blowing of the buffalo horn trumpets and bamboo flutes. 

Horn Trumpets

The men wear dhotis, half-jackets and turbans with feathers. The women wear colourful dresses made of silk, blouses and a head-wrap with feathers. The highlight of the festival is when 300 dancers and 100 drums descend on the field in all their splendour in celebration.

Dance with Nagara

History of Wangala

History of Wangala does not date back very ancient. The first Hundred Drums Wangala Festival was organised on December 6 and 7, 1976 at Asanang, the Headquarters of Rongram Block, 18 km from Tura in India. 

Aditya Sinha

That’s for today with U. Tomorrow it would be another festival with “V”
List of Other Festivals : Anant Chaturdashi, Akshay Tritiya ,Buddha Purnima, Basant Panchmi, Baisakhi,  ChhathaDiwali/DeepawaliEasterFestival of Breaking Fast - Eid ul FitrGanesh ChaturthiHoliId-ul-Zoha or Bakra-Eid , Janmashtmi Karva ChauthLohriMahavir JayantiNag PanchmiOnamPongal , Queer Facts , Ramnavmi , SimhasthaTeej, Ullambana or Ghost Festival, Vijaydashmi , Wangala, Xmas, Yamdvitiya, Zagor

For my parallel second Challenge blog with A pls visit : Let the Soul Pour

For other A to Z challenge blogs visit : A to Z Challenge 2016

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

V for Vijayadashmi

Goddess Durga killing Mahisasura Idol on Dussehra

Vijayadashami also known as Dussehra, Durga Puja or Ayudha puja, is one of the most important Hindu festivals. The festival celebrates victory of good over evil. It is celebrated in various forms, across India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh as well as parts of Pakistan. The name Dussehra being derived from Sanskrit - Dasha-hara literally means Dashanan ravan (short name of Ravan as dasha) and Hara meaning defeat i.e  Lord Rama's victory over the ten-headed demon king, Ravana. Vijayadashmi – Vijaya means victory and dashmi denotes the 10th day of the lunar calender on which the day falls. This thus also marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura. The Goddess fought with evils for nine nights and nine days.

Make Shift Pandal for Durga Puja

Diwali/Deepawali, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated twenty days after Dussehra and nine days prior to prior to Dussehra is the nine day prayer of Goddess Durga called Navratri.

Significance & Mythological Reference:

Vijayadashami is celebrated on the tenth day of the month of Ashwin according to the Hindu lunisolar calendar (September / October of the Gregorian calendar). The first nine days are celebrated as Maha Navratri or Sharada Navratri (the most important Navratri) and culminates on the tenth day as Dussehra.

1. Victory of Lord Rama over Ravana

As per Hindu religion, on this day in the Treta Yug, King Rama (also called Shri Ram) the seventh avatar of Vishnu, killed Ravana who had abducted Rama's wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Rama, his brother Lakshmana, their follower Hanuman and an army fought a great battle to rescue Sita. The entire narrative is recorded in the epic Ramayana, a Hindu scripture.

Rama had performed "Chandi Homa" and invoked the blessings of Durga, who blessed Rama with secret knowledge of the way to kill Ravana. On the day of Ashvin Shukla Dashami, Rama defeated Ravana and rescued Sita. Thus, it is termed as Vijaya Dashami, and thus is celebrated as a day of victory of Good over evil. Further, return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya which happened after 20 days is celebrated as festival of lights Deepawali.


This is part of the festival season of Hindu religion strating from Navratra to Deepawali. People perform "Aditya Homa" as a "Shanti Yagna" and recite Sundara Kanda of Srimad Ramayana for nine days. These Yagna performances are thought to create powerful agents in the atmosphere surrounding the house that will keep the household environment clean and healthy. On the 10th day i.e. Dussehra the yagna is culminated and Festive food is enjoyed. Celebration include meeting friends and relatives and watching Ravana Bandh & enjoying Dussehra fairs.

Ravana Badha Fair

2. Victory of Durga Mata over Mahishasura

In West Bengal & Bihar the occasion is more piously called Durga Puja whereby for nine days prayers of Goddess Durga (Durga Path) are performed. Durga idols are instituted on the sixth day and remain open for public throughout day and night till ninth day. Glamorous pandals are made. On the 10th day i.e. Vijaya Dashmi the yagna culminates and the idols of Goddess Durga is immersed in rivers or ponds with full fanfare.

Mythology states that some of the demons, or Asuras, were very powerful and ambitious and continually tried to defeat the Devas, or Gods, and capture Heaven. One Asura, Mahishasura, grew very powerful and created havoc on the earth. Under his leadership, the Asuras defeated the Devas. The world was crushed under Mahishasura tyranny, the Devas joined their energies into Shakti, a single mass of incandescent energy, to kill Mahishasura.

A very powerful band of lightning emerged from the mouths of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and a young, beautiful female virgin with ten hands appeared. All the Gods gave their special weapons to her. This Shakti coalesced to form the goddess Durga. Riding on a lion which assisted her, Durga fought Mahishasura. The battle raged for nine days and nights. Finally on the tenth day of Ashvin shukla paksha, Mahishasura was defeated and killed by Durga.

Hence Dasha-Hara is also known as Navratri or Durgotsav and is a celebration of Durga's victory. Durga, as Consort of Lord Shiva, represents two forms of female energy – one mild and protective and the other fierce and destructive.

Durga Puja at Bengal

Thus Dussehra or Vijaya Dashmi is celebrated in different forms across 
India. Some of them are:

Kalash Sthapna and sprouts generated in nine days
Northern India: In Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand and western Bihar, it is tradition to plant barley seeds in earthen pots on the first day of Navratri (Kalash Sthapna). On the day of Dasara, the nine-day-old sprouts (called noratras or nortas or of nav ratris or nine nights) are used as symbols of luck. Men place them in their caps or behind their ears.
Another Pandal

Make Shift Panda

In most of northern India and some parts of Maharashtra, Dasha-Hara is celebrated more in honour of Rama. During these ten days, many plays and dramas based on Ramayana are performed. These are called Ramlila. 

Ram Leela

There are outdoor fairs and large parades with effigies of Ravana (a king of ancient Sri Lanka), his brother Kumbhakarna and son Meghanad. The effigies are burnt on bonfires in the evening (Ravana Badh). After Dasara, the hot summer ends, especially in North India. The onset of cold weather is believed to encourage infections. The burning of the effigies, filled with firecrackers containing phosphorus, supposedly purifies the atmosphere, while the temples perform Chandi Homa or Durga Homa, with the same intent.
Dussehra Fairs

In the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, the Dasara festival starts with the performance of Ramlila which is unique as it is based on the musical rendering of the katha or story of Lord Rama.

KulluDussehra is celebrated in Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh is celebrated in the Dhalpur maidan in the Kullu valley and has gained international status. Dussehra at Kullu commences on the tenth day of the rising moon, i.e. on 'Vijaya Dashami' day itself and continues for seven days. Its history dates back to the 17th century when local King Jagat Singh installed an idol of Raghunath on his throne as a mark of penance. After this, god Raghunath was declared as the ruling deity of the Valley.

Kull Dussehra

Southern India: Vijayadashami is celebrated in various ways in different parts of South India. It is seen as a day to express gratitude to everything that bring success in life. Celebrations can take many forms, ranging from worshipping the goddess Chamundeshwari (Durga).
Vijayadashami is also the auspicious day for starting formal education. Students keep their books and workers their tools for puja on the ninth day of Navratri (Ayudha Puja, Saraswathi Puja); these are taken back and used after puja on the tenth day (Vijayadasami). The practice is so old that in many parts of south India, even non-Hindus follow this tradition. These days are termed auspicious and any new work / venture can be started on these days.

Roads of Patna in night on Durga Puja

West Bengal & Bihar: In Bengal, Dussehra is celebrated as Durga Puja and is the biggest festival there. Deities of the goddess Durga installed on fifth day are worshipped for five days, and on the fifth day (Vijayadashami) immersed in a river or pond. This is referred as Durga Bisarjan/Bhashaan. In Jharkhand, Bengal, Assam and Odisha, the goddess Kali, an appellation of Durga, is also worshipped as a symbol of Shakti (Power). In Bihar the festivity continues till Chhatha (six days after Diwali)

Durga Puja in West Bengal

Aditya Sinha

That’s for today with V. Tomorrow it would be another festival with “W”
List of Other Festivals : Anant Chaturdashi, Akshay Tritiya ,Buddha Purnima, Basant Panchmi, Baisakhi,  ChhathaDiwali/DeepawaliEasterFestival of Breaking Fast - Eid ul FitrGanesh ChaturthiHoliId-ul-Zoha or Bakra-Eid , JanmashtmiKarva ChauthLohriMahavir JayantiNag PanchmiOnamPongal, Queer Facts , Ramnavmi , SimhasthaTeej, Ullambana or Ghost Festival, Vijaydashmi, Wangala, Xmas, Yamdvitiya, Zagor

For my parallel second Challenge blog with A pls visit : Let the Soul Pour

For other A to Z challenge blogs visit : A to Z Challenge 2016