Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Charak Puja-one of the traditional folk festival in rural Bangladesh

Arrangement team of the Charak Puja festival comming with a Charak tree 

Arrangement team of the Charak Puja festival setting up the Charak tree

A member of the Charak Puja festival team blowing a fluit while setting the Charak tree

Upper part view of the Charak Tree

A snake charmer is playing with snakes under Charak Puja festival and Mela 

Young gyes are playing drums under Charak Puja festival and Mela 

Cosmetics Kali and Shiva are ready to perform a scene from the myth of
 Hindu Goddess Kali on the occation of Charak Puja festival

Cosmetics Kali and other devotees are performmimg a scene from the myth of
 Hindu Goddess Kali on the occation of the Charak Puja festival

Cosmetics Narod and other devotees are performmimg a scene from the myth of
 Hindu Goddess Kali on the occation of the Charak Puja festival

Preparation for setting hook (Borshi) on back of a Charkia (performer of Charak Puja)


Hooks have been set on back of a Charkia (performer of Charak Puja) and ready
to hang to move around the Charak Tree under Charak Puja or Nil Puja


An ascetic devotee ready to hang from a spinning wheel attached with Charak
Tree on the occation of Charak Puja


An ascetic devotee hangs from a spinning wheel attached with Charak
Tree on the occation of Charak Puja


video

Charak Puja is a traditional Bangladeshi festival celebrated mainly in the rural areas by the Hindus. This Puja is also known as ’’Nil Puja’’, ’’ Hajrha Puja’’ or ‘’Batri  Charak’’. The believers of the Hindu religion celebrate this puja on the last day of Chaitra month (Chaitra is the last month of Bangla calendar). Charak puja is also popular as ‘’Chaitra Songkranti’’. The day of Charak Puja is also known as ‘’Gajan’’. The Hindus believe that the festival will carry prosperity by eliminating the sorrow and the sufferings of the previous year. The Puja festival is actually a festival to satisfy ‘’Lord Shiva’ ’the great ‘’Debadideb’’ of Hindu religion and to be blessed with happiness and prosperity by the Lord Shiva. Though the festival takes place on the mid night of ‘’Chaitra Songkranti’’ , the preparation phase usually starts before one month of the puja day.
In fact, the last day of Chaitra month is observed all over rural Bangladesh as ‘’Chaitra Sangkranti’’. On this day rural people arrange village fair ‘’Mela’’ and some other activities such as kite flying. Charak Puja is not celebrated every where, due to its special ritual and religion bond. With the combination of Charak Puja the festival gets another dimension, attraction and test. 
Charak Puja is performed by usually ten to twelve members, including both men and women. The bearers of the ritual are called Charkia and the main performer Deoboinshi. Charak Puja starts with the fasting period. Though the festival is celebrated on the midnight of Chaitra Sankranti, the preparations start at least a month in advance. The devotees keep fast for one complete month before performing the rituals. During this period the devotees cann’t eat from morning to evening and live strictly on fruits and do their daily worship. This time bound ritual is called ‘’Brata’’. Many devotees observe a fast on the day of Charak Puja, until the midnight puja takes place.
The arrangement team of the festival go from village to village and collects the necessary items, like paddy, oil, sugar, salt, honey, money and other items with the arranged cosmetics such as Shiva, Parvati and Narod. The cosmetics Shiva is locally called ‘’Nil Pagol’’ or ‘’Jal Katha’’.
 The rituals of Charak Puja , a way to show the miracle of ‘’Lord Shiva’’ are unique and at times a little risky. Around mid night, the devotees gather to offer prayers to the Lord Shiva. Then the Puja arrangers make a stage of bamboo. The average height of these stages are about 3 to 5 meter. The ‘’Charkia’’ is tied with a ‘’Borshi’’ (a kind of hook) at the back and then is moved around a bar with a long roap. The ground area of the bamboo stage is filled up with knives, glass pieces and thorns. Devotees fall on this ground. The excitement reaches to apex when the performers rise and escape without a single wound. They believe that the blessing of ‘’Lord Shiva’’ keep them safe from all the possible harms. The devotees have other ways to show the god’s blessing. They impale their body parts without feeling any pain.
In Bangladesh, Charak Puja is frequently found to take place at Patuakhali, Pabna, Sylhet, Gopalganj, Khulna, Jessor, Manikgonj and some other districts. The next day of Charak Puja is celebrated as ‘’Poila/Pohela Baisakh or Nabo Barsha (Bangla new year) all over Bangladesh.

S: en.wikipedia.org; indianetzone.com; thetravelphotographer.blogspot.com; bangalinet.com; organiser.org;viewbookphotostory.com/2010/09/charak-puja;
Special courtesy :sachalayatan.com/mustafiz/38644; tobangladesh.com;