Friday, March 5, 2010

THE TEMPLES IN BURDWAN: Manasa deity

The Nagpanchami day is set apart for special worship of Manasa deity. Songs about the goddess recounting the story of Chand Saudagar, a merchant and a worshipper of Lord Siva are sung. It is said that this area and spotted Chand Saudagar for introducing it. At first the Saudagar, a great devotee of Lord Siva refused to
recognize Manasa as a deity but later he was forced to do so when he lost his only child Lakhindar through snake bite and he was revived by the mercy of Manasa. It is said that the semi-Hinduised aborigines have added Manasa as godhead to the Hindu pantheon.
The Bagdis and Bauris also worship Dharmaraj whose shrines are scattered all over Bengal. A low caste priest, even a Dom or a Bagdi usually worships Dharma- raj and as a rule a shapeless stone painted with vermilion and placed under a tree represents Dharmaraj. Dharmaraj is also worshipped very often in the form of a tortoise. It has been mentioned elsewhere that temples containing the emblem of tortoise are not uncommon.

What is important is that pigs, fowls and ducks are sacrificed for Dharmaraj and offerings are made of rice, flowers, milk and even the home brewn intoxicant pachwai. The worship takes place in the months of Baisakh Jaistha and Ashar, on the day of the full moon and all castes even Brahmins make offerings to Dharma- raj through the officiating low-caste priest. Dharma worship has been taken to be a corrupt form of Buddhism by the great scholar Mahamahopadhyaya HaraPrasad Shastri. "The writers of Tantrik complications among the Hindus,"
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