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Shree Swasthani Brata Katha begins today

KATHMANDU: Fasting and story reading of Swasthani, a holy book, is starting from Friday all over Nepal.
Devotees in hundreds are all set for their month-long devotion on the bank of the Sali River at Sankhu.
The Sali River, as described in Swasthani story is a sacred, healing and wish fulfilling holds a special significance amongst the pilgrims during this month-long fasting.As mentioned in the story, a leprosy victim Chandrawati regained her health, social status and good fortune after worshipping goddess Swasthani and taking holy dips here. Thus, devotees from far and wide visit the Sali River for holy bath during the fasting month.
People of the ancient conch-shaped town of Sankhu observe the fast with rigorous discipline and rituals. Those who start the fasting in earnest forget about private business for the period and concentrate on devotional activities.
Men devotees from Sankhu spend the whole month in the temple built on the bank of the Sali River.
Men and women of all ages observe this fasting wishing for a prosperous life, perpetual luck and happiness. Swasthani literally means local goddess and the fasting and storytelling are practiced only in Nepal.
The whole month falling in January and February, is dedicated to Goddess Swasthani. The fasting is observed in the Kathmandu Valley, Terai belt and hills by Hindus.
All the devotees have to follow strict rules during the fast. Throughout the month, every fasting devotee eats only a single meal each day which should be free from salt.
Devotees walk barefoot and are not allowed to wear any cosmetic items. They take holy dip at the Sali River every morning and visit different shrines barefoot
They are required to live on strict diet of rice, carrot, bean, ginger, ghee, chaku (hardened molasses), sugar, beaten rice and milk. On the day of Ekadasi, they can eat banana, yam, sugarcane and orange.
On the day of Saptami, the male devotees on fast roll instead of walking through the town of Sankhu with their body covered only with loin cloth.
The historical town of Bhaktapur also observes this fasting but rituals here are different from those of Sankhu.
The story of Swasthani mentions King Nabaraj ruling the country called Labanya. Labanya is the old name of Sankhu which once was a separate kingdom.
Nabaraj became a king after his mother observed Swasthani fasting. His consort Chandrawati became a leper after insulting goddess Swasthani.
Later, she became remorseful and worshipped the goddess which made her healthy again, according to the story.
There stands a large rock at the center of Sali River which people worship as the symbol of Chandrawati.

Published Date: Thursday, January 9th, 2020 | 10:26 PM

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