Neel Shasthi has a very emotional and a traditional value in the life of all Bengali Mothers, Many times an individual may not be very religious or superstitious, however as a motherhood turns them very superstitious. For the good of their child. In today’s time the festival of Neel Shasthi is widely practiced by many women. As a mother I myself perform this tradition only.
Some of the not so known festival of Bengal
There are many festivals celebrated in Bengal, out of which most are known to all, however there are few festivals celebrated, which are not known to all. Some festivals are famous as tribal and some are in the widely practiced in the village area. Festivals like Chakra puja are practiced among the folk and many others. Neel Shasthi is a festival that is also one of them. These puja also hold a special value in the modern age.
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The festival of Neel Shasthi takes place in the in the end of Chaitra month. During his period the wedding of Shiva is celebrated with Maa Parvati, calling it as Chaitra Sankranti. The married women usually perform this Puja , this Puja is done for their Child. The NeelKathatha is always referred to Lord Shiva and the Neel Puja as it is in the month of Chaitra dedicated to Shiva. Thus the fasting after the whole day. women break their fast on the sun set by performing puja to in the temple.
The Neel Shasthi Puja
After the sun sets women go to the Temple and offer their Puja .As a part of the ritual giving mil bath to the shivling is a mandatory. Lighting diya and giving flowers are also part of ritual. Fruits and aggarbati, some sweets are also is the a part of the offering. After the Puja is done women return hone and have fruits that was offered to God as prasad and end their fast.
The Celebration of Neel Shasthi
- Women fast for the full from sunrise to sun set in the hopeof betterment of their children.
- Worship of God Shiva is done on this day in the Shiv Temple
- The Shivling is given bath of Milk by the women
- There is a mixture prepared along with the milk.
- Along with milk coconut water, ganga jal honey, and Curd. The holy ash is also added to this.
- As a blessing devotees are given a the This is a preparation made with milk banana ghee, honey, tulsi leaves, sugar. This mixture is consumed by all.
- Tulsi leaves is very importance in the Puja. And it is important to keep in mind that the Tulsi leave should have 3 leaflets.
- In the part of the Puja the Akhando phool is very vital, this flower is called the Crown flower, the flower is considered to be the most liked flower of God Shiva.
- So this flower is offered to God Shiva to please him.
- The Bhang is also a favourite of God Shiva, so the offering to God is incomplete without this.
- It is important to give five different type of fruit to Lord, and Bel being a must. Other than it mango banana, etc are also offered.
- Different sweet are also given to Lord
- After the Puja, one of the five fruit is take as a blessing from God.
- This fruit is considered as Prasad from God.
In the time of fasting only fruits is allowed , no rice and non vegetable is allowed .Most prefer to eat Sabudan, juice, partha and curd is eaten. However these days many take tea during the fast and many perform the fast ‘Nerjala’, i.e. not even consuming water till the Puja is done to God.
The History behind the Neel Shasthi
As per the Vedic literature, when the Devas and Rakshasas were looking for the ‘Amrit’ under the ocean, instead of Amrit they got a deadly poison and the poison or Garal was very effective and had the power to destroy the whole universe. Thus God Shiva was requested to consume the poison to save the universe however the garal was not went inside Lord Shiva’s body but remained in the throat of Him which is the reason we call him as Neelkantha or Blue Throat!
- The saviour of the Children is what Maa Shasthi considered as. Thus all worship Maa Shasthi to worshiped in the name of children. The day 6th is considered as Maa Shasthi puja day.
- Devi Shasthi is a Goddess, who is a saviour and keeper of children. when someone is expecting child for wanting to have a child. Maa Shasthi is the one who is worshiped. The idol of Maa Shasthi is figured as a Mother with a child in her arm. The idol is shown to be on a cat, as the Vahan.
In the Vedic mythology, there was a King who had performed ‘Yagaya’ for to have a boy child. 12 years passed of performing the Yagaya, then a boy child was born to the King and Queen. However the child was born dead, sadly the King and Queen took the dead child for cremation. On the cremation ground appeared Goddess Shasthi and told them that she has the power to bring the child live back. And in return the King and Queen have to worship Goddess Shasthi for all 3 World. Maa Shasthi with her power have live to the Child. Hence onwards Maa Shasthi puja was performed by the King and Queen on the day 6th of every month.
From then the tradition of worshipping Maa Shasthi is done. The Devi is considered as ‘the Saviour of Children’ . With great devotion and conviction the Puja of Neel Shasthi is done, where God Shiva and Devi Shasthi is worshiped to protects and safeguard all children from evil and ill.The popularity and the faith to the ritual of this Puja has made the practice of the festival famous in and other parts of the country too.