Wednesday, April 1, 2009

GaajonUtsav/ChodokMela(Festival)

Gaajon a Shaivite mela(festival), held on CHOITRO SANGKRANTI (the last day of Choitro(the last month of Bangla year)) and on full moon nights up to the full moon of Asadh. The mela is associated with various gods. There may thus be SHIV's Gaajon, the Gaajon of DHARMO THAKUR, the Gaajon of Nil etc. The main object of this mela is to celebrate the marriage of the sun and the earth. The reason for this mela is perhaps to appease the sun and pray for rain during the hot, dry month of Choitro.
The mela is arranged on the premises of Shiv temples. Those who take part in the mela after making vows are called sannyasi or bhoktya. They take sacrificial food(mostly parboiled rice) and wear uttori (wrappers). Each one holds a staff of cane. They try to satisfy the god through different acts of penance, such as piercing their tongues with nails, jumping upon thorns(KaantaJhamp), walking on burning charcoal bed(AagunSannyas), juggling of burning charcoal(PhulKhyala) etc.
CHODOK PUJA is performed on the occasion of the Gaajon mela. During this mela, processions are brought out from the premises of the temple of Shiv and taken to other villages. A pair of processionists take the roles of Shiva and Gauri and render dances. Other bhoktyas take the roles of Nandi, Bhrngi, ghosts and spirits, monsters and demons and dance along with Shiva and Gauri. During this time different verses are recited narrating the story of how Shiv's sleep was disturbed and going on to his marriage, his agricultural activities etc.
This mela usually lasts for three days. During the Gaajon on Choitro Samkranti, Kali dances are also performed in some places describing how the goddess slaughtered the monster Asura.
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