Agartala: Apr 14: Traditional Charak festival was celebrated on Saturday in the rural areas of Tripura, marking New Year according to the Bengali Calendar.
The festival is dedicated to the Hindu deities Shiva and Sakti and is marked by a strict penance wherein the performers of Charak Puja undergo extreme physical pains and stresses. Within one body there are two gods, one is Shiva and the other Parvati. In this festival people are buried under mud and walk over fire, people are hanged with hooks, machete games are shown, people sleep on thousand of nails, etc.
This puja is being performed for the welfare of the people of the Earth and the nation. For one month devotees collect subscriptions from various people for the Charak Puja. According to mythology from the days of Lord Rama, this is happening and it is the worshiping of Hor (Shiva) and Parvati.
From time immemorial, the festival has attracted large number of people from different corners of the world. Charak Puja starts with the fasting period.
The devotees keep fasts for one complete month before performing the rituals. During this period the devotees live strictly on fruits and do their daily worship. After a month of fasting and on the day of Charak, a Charak tree is erected. The average height of these is about 15 feet and devotees hang suspended from hooks, as a symbolic sacrifice to the Hindu deity Shiva.
Many others pierce their tongue, body with iron rods or walk on sharp machetes, nails and other pointed objects besides walking over burning charcoal.
The excitement reaches the climax when the performers complete the run with their feat remaining unscathed. This festival takes place on the last day of Chaitra month and there several tough rules to be maintained by the devotees with full devotion towards the almighty and bear the pain to show their faith in this festival.
According to many, this age-old festival came from ‘Charak Samhita’ (Compendium of Charaka) a Sanskrit text on Ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine) but in today people’s fast life of survival struggle, they are gradually forgetting their traditional festivals, rituals and which needs conservation.
According to devotees, it is the worshiping of Mahadev (Shiva) the Hindu god of destruction and every year on the last day of Chaitra, the last month in the Hindu calendar.
Charak comes from ‘chakra’ or the wheel – the circle of the movement of the Sun.It is symbolized by the setting up of a high pole from which hangs a devotee. With the help of a strong rope, he swings himself around the pole.It is a difficult and dangerous feat.
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’.
These men and women believe Charak Puja is one way of attaining salvation.The main object of this festival is to celebrate the marriage of the sun and the earth. The reason for this festival is perhaps to appease the sun and pray for rain during the hot, dry month of Chaitra.
The Chark Puja has been restricted to remote areas after the government put restrictions on certain practices.