A Hike for Hindu Culture Study

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Every year on the Nepali month of Magh (between January and February) the day of Swasthani Purnima (Full Moon day) is believed to commence the “Swasthaani Brata-Katha Aarambha”. Swasthani is an extremely holy book in the Hinduism that depicts the married life of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. “Swasthaani Brata-Aarambha” in English means the start of a month-long fast by Nepalese women for the selfless sake of long and prosperous lives of their husbands and families. It is also called “Magh Snaan Aarambha” because women bathe everyday in nearby ponds for a whole month, which is looked upon as a sacred act of flooding away all the sins. Swasthaani Brata-Katha is recited aloud by a family member in each Hindu family everyday at noon, while the rest of the family members sit alongside and listen. Both the act of reading and listening is vouched for making life pure and serene; the story which frees one from pessimism and takes them to a divine arena of compassion.   

Our new group of energetic interns left the house of Internship Nepal after a light breakfast on a misty Saturday morning. The crusade took a bus from the Old Buspark to Saalinadi, a large river to the North-East of Kathmandu Valley. Saalinadi is considered to be one of the most sacred rivers to surge within Kathmandu, where every year on the month of Swasthaani Brata-Katha Aarambha a mammoth fair is celebrated. Pilgrims stand from very early in the morning in queue for hours to bathe and worship with complaints of neither hunger nor thirst. We walked around the colossal Saalinadi area while looking at all the pilgrims and worshippers chanting prayers. The place and the day both had so much to offer and there was so much color all around that it indeed became a picture perfect scenario. Photos taken by interns turned out to be lively and terrifically vibrant. 

We talked to some pilgrims who had stood in queue for a long time and asked them to share some experience they’ve had over the years. Magh of all months is at the heart of winter every year, and the water is freezing cold. To show so much of patience just to take a holy dip in the freezing morning river is a heroic display of feminism. And women do it for the sole purpose of their family’s well being. Interns looked amazed at such a unique and selfless dedication of women. Most of the photos taken during the day were from a wonderful angle. Specially, the part where women chained along the river all at once and sang the prayers joining their hands and bowing down was a catch to the eye. 

After the overall study around Saalinadi, we walked up to the earthquake stricken area of Sankhu. Especially the municipality of Sankharapur was the most affected one and some victims were still seen in small huts. We talked to a few local people and shared their troubles. They complained that the relief materials had not yet reached to them in a sufficient amount. From there, we walked up to the bus park from where the bus left eventually to end a delightful and informative trip