Pratapghar (Tripura)[India], Apr 15 (ANI): Charak festival was celebrated on Friday 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 from the welfare of the people of the Earth and the nation," said Hemanta Hrishi Das, the main priest.
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 hangs 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 feat remaining unscathed.
"This festival takes place on the last day of Chaitra month and there several tough rules to be maintained. We have to show our full devotion towards the almighty and bear the pain to show our faith in this festival," said Rabindra Biswas, a devotee.
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.
"Right from the time of our forefathers this festival is occuring and it is the worshiping of Mahadev (Shiva). Every year on the last day of Chaitra month this festival generally takes place while a small section also celebrated it on the last day Baisakh month. Every year I enjoy this festival and large number of people has gathered to witness this," Chunilal Rudra Paul a visitor said.
Charak comes from 'chakra' or the wheel - the circle of the movement of the Sun.
It is symbolised by the setting up of a high pole from which hangs a devotee. With the help of a strong rope, he swings himself round 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.
Charak also called Gajan, is held on Chaitra Sangkranti (the last day of Chaitra).
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 government put restrictions on certain practices.
The festivities in rural areas are marked by local fairs. (ANI)