Pitri Paksha Finale
One-to-One Talk – Mahalaya
Being with Sikkim Newar Guthi at Rhenock
In this context, Dev Darshan a sponsored post on Facebook was found quite informative and shared here :
“To seek Ancestors' Blessings and to Satiate the Souls of Ancestors and to attract Peace of Mind, Happiness, Prosperity, participate in Pitra Dosh Puja, Til Tarpan, Pind Daan and Tripindi Shraddh Yagya at Dev Ghat, Vishnupad Temple, Gayaji Tirth on Pitru Paksha Ekadashi 21 September... It satiates Ancestors' Souls and Devotees to attain Benefits similar to participating in Shraddh Puja on Sarva Pitru Amavasya. It is believed that performing Shraddh rites for Ancestors on the river Falgu Ganga in Vishnupad Temple in Gaya is fruitful as it is considered to be holy site for attaining Salvation. Lord Vishnu is present in Gaya in the form of Pitru. Also, Lord Vishnu's footprint is present here. Lord Rama had also performed the Shraddh rites and Pind Daan of his father Raja Dasharatha at Gaya. Head of the Family Name and Gotra with the Names of your Pitra or Ancestors will be chanted during the Puja Sankalp in Gaya during Shraddh.
“Mahabharata also states the importance of participating in Shraddh rites at Gaya. It is mentioned that the Devotees become free from the debts of their ancestors when they perform Shradh at Dev Ghat, Vishnupad Temple in the Gaya pilgrimage. Interestingly, the significance of the Gaya Shrine for Shraddh rituals is specifically due to Demon Gayasur. The demon Gayasur was an ardent Devotee of Lord Vishnu. He asked Lord Vishnu to bless him with a boon that whoever sees him, all their sins shall be washed away and they would get a special place in Heaven. Due to this boon given to Gayasur, the order of heaven started deteriorating, and therefore, Lord Brahma took Sankalp to perform Maha Yagya on Gayasur's back Following this, Gayasur took a form of bedrock and Mahayagya was organized on his back, but before that, he was blessed by Lord Vishnu that from now onwards, all the Devtas would be seated on the bedrock and the Devotees who will perform Shraddh rituals and Pind Daan on this rock, their ancestors will get salvation. This same Rock is located in the Vishnupad Temple. Lord Vishnu's footprints are also found there. Since then, there is the significance of performing Shraddh, Pind Daan and Pitru Tarpan in Vishnupad Temple, Gaya.”
As Buba and Thulo Mama desired to visit Gayaji and perform Shraddh there, Muma and Thulo Maiju also accompanied us. We went on pilgrimage in 1985 first to our ancestral place at Chaukhambha Banaras and from there proceeded to Gayaji. At night, we had lighted mosquito-repelling coils that suffocated us but soon realised the folly and opened the windows to save us from any mishap. After performing Shraddh at Vishnu Paduka and other places there, suddenly fell sick with swollen lips due to sepsis. The infection could be due to ritual dip in the Holy Ganges earlier at Varanasi and the antiseptic cream used as Boroline purchased was a spurious one that did the trick, some opined. Luckily, a few months ago only during a training course to come across a Muslim I.A.S. friend posted at Patna and we had become good friends. He was requested for help and to arrange for our return trip by booking railway tickets for sleeper seat reservation. He himself was present at the station to send us off boarding the train that night. Reaching home, when examined by the Army Doctor at Chalise Camp, he said that had there been even a slight delay, it would have worsened to a very difficult condition.
In 2006 we went with Raman and Nilabh accompaying us to Gayaji for performing the Shraddh in fond memory of Buba. Like in the previous trip we planned to reach there on Paush Amavashya (2022 December 23 Friday) regarded as highly pertinent for performing Shraddh and Tarpan for the dead. We spent some days in Banaras first for rituals preceeding the Gaya Shraddh and also approved the marble bust of Buba that was ordered last May. Raman brought it home later in the following March. Earlier during his May visit, the Author was invited by the organizing Secretary Durga Prasad Shrestha of the Uday (he would be awarded this Ghatsthapana day Jagadamba Shree Puraskar for 2021 by Madan Puraskar Guthi, Nepal) to hand over the Madan Samman for Rani Jagadamba Charitable Trust headed by Kamal Mani Dixit*. The honoured personality was K. B. Nepali, Editor of Bindu, Lumding for his remarkable contributions to Nepali literature.
There is a Vishnupad Mandir in Nepal too and it is near Dharan, where our sister Anita and Jwainsaheb B. K. Pradhan went some years ago. It serves the same purpose as that of one at Gayaji, where Nepalese go to perform the rituals. It is interesting to note here that though the Pitri Paksha is generally considered to be inauspicious for starting new ventures, but childbirth during this period is believed to be very auspicious and is blessed by the ancestors present in the family. He/she would be very successful in his life with name and fame abundant.
Mahalaya is an auspicious day for Bengalis. This Author come to know more about with the hymn chanted early morning during the Mahalaya from his colleague A. C. Dutta* Babu. We worked together in the Finance Department right from 1975 till his retirement as the first-ever Director of Accounts, the topmost post of the Sikkim Finance and Accounts Service Cadre constituted then. He mentioned this Author about Mahisasura Mardini Strotam and to listen to it at 4 am on the Mahalaya day broadcast by All India Radio. By chanting this Strotam, one can get the divine bliss, protection, and the mercy of Goddess Mahisasura Mardini.
In the scriptures, Mahalaya is the date of the new moon, on which the Shraddh of the ancestors is usually performed. On this day, the ancestors are freed from the torments of hell and give us blessings, Besides, Goddess Durga is awakened on the day of Mahalaya, awakening means awakening. It is believed in the Hindu Mythology that Goddess Durga was created on this by Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswar to defeat the demon King Mahisasura. Therefore, devotees mark this day as the arrival of Goddess Durga to Earth from Kailash Parvat with her divine powers. Mahalaya is considered to be the day Goddess Durga defeated the demon Mahisasura. Mahisasura Mardini Strotam is composed by Guru Adi Shankaracharya in Sanskrit popularised during the rise of the Sakta tradition in India and also from the mid-20th century. Mahalaya consists of 20 songs in Durga Abhahan for Mahalaya. Birendra Krishna Bhadra, who will always be remembered for making Mahalaya memorable to one and all, is the voice behind the “Mahisasura Mardini”. This famous 90-minute musical was first composed in 1931 under the direction of Pankaj Kumar Mullick. It was only recorded in 1966, after which the recorded version was played everywhere. (Goggle /www.wikipedia.org). Nowadays, we can listen to it easily on YouTube in versions aplenty to be blessed any time of the day or night anywhere in your prayer or leisure, but none at par listening to the legendary singer Bhadra in the early morning of the Mahalaya!
By the way, the surname Bhadra reminds me of Dr. Binayak P. Bhadra, the gentleman working at ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development). He supported the efforts of this Author bringing out Vikasko Goreto : Grameen Pradaugiki - Kam Dam Dher Gyanka Satheek Sujhauharu when reached his office to give a copy in 2001. In appreciation he gave a token sum of US$ 100/- with a remark, had it been in English, they would have benefitted more out of it. This work being mostly a translation many materials were already with us but did not strike our mind even of publishing it in English as well to reap more benefit ourselves as well. Dr. Ekalabya Sharma formerly with Govind Ballabh Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development (GBPIHED) in Sikkim joined soon thereafter. We had met co-incidentally at Bhadrapur airport to be introduced by our Jwainsaheb Badri Nath Shrestha* of Dharan, a former Registrar of the Tribhuvan University, was the Chief of Hathisar Campus at Dharan, also once the Secretary to the Sports Council of Nepal who led the Olympic Contingent to Los Angeles California, the USA in 1984. Post-retirement he was the Vice-Chancellor of the Service Commission, Purvanchal University, Nepal at Biratnagar. We lost him on Dashai day last year while undergoing medical treatment in New Delhi. Our tributes in fond memory of such a gem of a person in him.
With Pitri Paksha concluded and Ghatsthapna next day, a fortnight long Navaratri festival of Dashain begins and auspicious Malashri Dhun is played heralding the onset of Hemant or winter season. It is a Newa artform in which musicians perform devotional music, based on classical raga and taal system. The dhun is incorporated into mainstream Nepalese music as the music of Dashain. It is the tune that announces that Dashain, the biggest Hindu festival of Nepal, has arrived. Malashree dhun is one of the oldest surviving devotional musics of Nepal, with its origin in the 17th century. The Malshree dhun originally belongs to the Newari culture from the Kathmandu valley, and it’s a folk music of Newari culture which later on got amalgamated with the large Nepali culture and has become a traditional music of the biggest festival of Nepal, Dashain. (www.wikipedia.org)
About the Author
“Rajiva Shanker Shresta, a retired ace bureaucrat, is a prolific writer-cum-walking encyclopaedia as far as Sikkim is concerned. His monumental book 'Sikkim : Three Decades towards Democracy – Evolution of Legislative System' (2005) is much referred book....” Keshab Chandra Pradhan, Former Chief Secretary to the Government of Sikkim in his Memoir The Life and Times of A Plantsman in the Sikkim Himalayas (Revised/Updated 2018)