- Celebrated on/during: April
SANSARI PUJA – WE THE NATURE WORSHIPERS
We the mountains dwellers have always been nature worshippers. Our rivers, our mountains, our streams, our forests, and the biodiversity therein have always been sacred to us.
For us nature is not something from which we “extract resources,” rather we see her as a benevolent “Mother” who provides bounties for our sustenance.
With the advent of globalization, we are today a part of the greater “global village.” Our children are today as “hip, hep, happenin’ swaggy and downright cool…” as anyone else…
Which often makes us question, in a rush to accept the “foreign” are we forgetting our roots?
Glad to report, not entirely.
Today we celebrated Sansari Puja at Madarihat Megnad saha nagar
Town and city dwellers may ask, “what is that?”
Well, the answer lies in our very first line, “we the mountains dwellers have always been nature worshippers.” All through the year we have traditional mountain festivals which is celebrated to honour various aspects of nature.
Sansari Puja is undertaken in the month of Baishak – the 1st month of Nepali calendar – to invoke Sansari Mata – who is the Mother of all Creations – and to appeal to her for timely rain and to bless us with abundant produce in the year ahead.
Sansari puja is a community celebration, where people irrespective of their religion join the festivities. Elders from each village collect donations from the villages – the donations include rice, vegetables, dal, fruits and a mandatory donation of Ghar ko Kukhra ko Eggs.
The eggs have to be ghar ko kukhra ko [organic, free-range, home grown chicken eggs] as the fate of the donating family and the entire village for the year is predicted through the eggs.
Each family writes the name of individual members in the eggs or name of the family in the eggs they donate, which is collected along with other donated items and the villagers go to pray to Sansari Mata.
Each village will have a designated place where they conduct Puja to the Forest Gods, and that is where the people go to pray for Sansari Maa.
At the Puja ko site, the traditional shaman or the village elder pray to Sansari Mata and invoke the kings and queens and various local protective deities.
Invocation chants include references to Hangba Raja-Hangba Rani… Koche Raja-Kochey Rani… Meche Raja-Meche Rani… Jangala Basne Timi… Nadi-nala Dharti Timi.. Ukkali-Orali ko Devi-Deuta timi… Thado-Terso Dobhanama Timi… Akash-Dharti-Patal ma Timi… Charai-disa Khola-Nala timi… and so on… thus acknowledging the presence of Sansari Mata in each and every aspect of our environment.
The shaman then breaks each egg and reads out the projection for the year ahead for each family. A clear egg means the year will be uneventful, a fertilized egg could mean there will be birth in the family or ensuing prosperity, and egg which has blood in it (very rare) is meant to convey there will be death in the family.
The collection of eggs, and the summary of the predictions provides a general picture for the village on what to expect in the year ahead. After all the village is an extended family, so every birth and death becomes a family event.
Luckily for us, this year brings with it good omen, not just for my family, but for the entire village.
Once the prayers are over, a community fest is organized from the collected donations in kind… people from all walks of life… be they rich or poor, be they of any faith or religion, all cook together and eat together.
I am glad that our village still celebrates Sansari Puja and upholds this unique Mountain tradition… but same is not true for the town dwellers.
I however, hope that may this post inspire others to pray to Sansari Mata…
We have a very unique and rich cultural heritage, and it is our duty and responsibility to uphold our traditional practices… for those are our roots… and the stronger our roots are… the taller we can grow as a community.