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Posted by: NTN Admin | Date: November 13, 2009
The Bala Chaturdashi festival is simple but has great significance in Hindu religion. Families who lost their relatives in the last year keep an all-night vigil in the premises of Pashupatinath temple lighting oil lamps and singing songs and dancing. The festival is celebrated in Nepal every year in late November or early December. Hindu pilgrims from all over Nepal as well as India gather at Pashupatinath temple, which is the most sacred temple of lord Shiva, in the world.
Throughout the night the pilgrims chant and dance by the light of their lamps while paying homage to Lord Shiva. At daybreak worshippers make their way down to the holy Bagmati River for ritual bathing. The Bagmati flows through the Kathmandu Valley and has a number of Hindu temples located on its banks. It is considered to be a most holy river by both Buddhists and Hindus. Hindus are cremated on the banks of the Bagmati and the Nepalese Hindu tradition requires that the dead body be dipped three times into the river prior to cremation. After the cremation ceremony, many relatives bathe in the river or sprinkle the water on their bodies as a symbol of being purified by the river – both spiritually and physically.
A religious fair is held in the Shlesmantak forest for a night and a day. People from different parts of the Kathmandu Valley come to the holy forest called Shlesmantak in the Pashupati area in Kathmandu one day before Bala-chaturdasi, and spend a night there for performing rituals of sprinkling sat-bij next day. People usually light a torch made of a reed staff wrapped in cotton soaked in mustard seed oil, and keep awake the whole night chanting hymns, singing devotional songs, and praying for the peace of the departed souls.After bathing in the Bagmati, pilgrims perform acts of worship at the many shrines of Pashupatinath temple. The worshippers scatter “sat biu”, seven types of grains and seeds, along the path as they go. The seeds are scattered in behalf of dead relatives and loved ones in the hope that this act will secure a better place in heaven for them. These rituals are also carried out to appease the restless souls of departed ones who were not properly cremated. It takes several hours for this task to be completed and once it is done, the pilgrims start making their journey home.
Nepal is a beautiful country, rich in history and age-old traditions and rituals. Travelers can visit Nepal any time throughout the year so that they can discover the mystery and hidden fact of Nepal and Nepalese culture.