By Rup Narayan Dhakal : Seven-year-old maid marries to a 70-year-old man and she found widow herself in fewer than one-year period but later enjoys as a mum of a king. I have been hearing and reading a story with such chapter every year for years.
Reading and hearing of Swasthani Brata Katha (Swasthani Fasting Story) starts from the full moon day of Nepali month Poush and ends on full moon day of Magh every year. Swasthani is very popular in Nepal and India. The fast is taken especially by females in the belief of getting perfect bridegroom, wising the long lives of husband and to fulfill his/her wishes. Before starting a month long fast, a woman takes a bath in sacred river and reads or hears the Swasthani every day.
There are a total 31 chapters in Swasthani and they have to be read within a month. There is no problem if one (the subject) completes the book many times within this period. The subject takes holy bath and fasts every day before having sacred food. During the month, she doesn’t involve any sexual activities. The story is read especially in the day or evening time and audiences gather to listen to the Swasthani from the neighboring too. Every day, before and after reading the new chapter of Swasthani, 2 separate sacred-texts are read respectively. During the text readings, the subject and the audiences take leaves and flowers in their hand and later offer to the book.
At last the sacred food (prashad) is eaten every day. On the last day of the story reading, the special ceremony/party is organized. At the same time, red color powder, lamp, sands, copper plate, 108 sacred threads, 108 sacred foods, 108 breads etc are needed to pray the Swasthani. At that time, she gives the 8 items to her husband and takes 100 herself. If she has no husband, the items are given to the son, if no son, items are given to the son’s friend, if he also no, the items are offered to the river. Swasthani Story is from Maghmahatme of Kedar Khanda, a section of Skanda Puran, one of the 18 voluminous books on Hindu mythology. God Shiva and goddess Parvati in different appearances and incarnations are the main characters of the Swasthani story.
Every chapter of Swasthani starts like this: Kumarji aagya garnu hunchha hey Agastey Muni…(Mr. Kumar says, hey Agastey muni!…). Kumar, a character tells the whole story to the Agastey Muni. Kumar elaborates how the universe was created and the role of Brahma, Bishnu and Maheshore (Shiva) over the creation and post creation. According to the Swasthani story, Dakchhe Prajapati and his wife Birani have 330 million daughters. Except one most beautiful daughter, Gods married all the daughters but Maha Dev (Lord Shiva) wishes to marry to rest unmarried daughter, naming Satya Devi, of Dakchhe. Though Dakchhe rejected the Maha Dev saying he is unfit for his daughter and dirty unusual man, later with the help of Lord Bishnu’s conspiracy, Maha Dev achieved the Satya Devi.
One day when Dakchhe and his wife organized a mega sacred-ceremony, all their daughters and relatives were invited but Maha Dev and his wife Satya Devi were not. Knowing that, Satya killed herself in ceremony site; later heart-broken Maha Dev carried his wife’s body everywhere in the earth; and where the dead body’s part felled, there created sacred places for devotees. Later Satya Devi took rebirth as a daughter of Himalaya Parvat and Menaka; her name remained Parvati; she also successes to marry Maha Dev with the help of Swasthani Fasting Story.
One day, Maha Dev (as Shiva Sharma), disguising himself as an old beggar, reaches a maid Goma’s house. But she didn’t give anything to this beggar showing the cause she was busy at that time. Later, the beggar cursed her that she weed with 70-year-old man when she will be 7 year old. Finally, it also happened. During her pregnancy, Shiva Sharma died when he was on the way to collect some funds for them. Later, Goma gives a birth to a son naming Nava Raj.
When Nava became the king of Lavanya state, his wife Chandravati became a queen. Maha Dev (Lord Shiva) killed many demons including Jalandhar. Jhalandhar was killed when he wanted to have Pravati doing fraud. Maha Dev disguised himself many times and involved in funny and serious activities with Satya Devi, Parvati, Goma and other goddess. The Swasthani is actually a story of love, tragedy, sorrow, reconciliation and disgust.