By Upender Ambardar
The Shivratri rituals not only showcase the socio-cultural and religious ancestry of our community but they also signify the lengendary recalls of the bygone eras and continuities of the past. They help to activate and energise our alignment with the Divine, reassuringly asserted, Sh. Girdhari Lal Koul, a resident of the village Inder, district Pulwama and presently putting-up at Indra Nagar Srinagar. Reminisicing about the festival related blissful memories of the yore, he recounted that intermediary period from Phagun Krishnapaksh Pratipadha to Suptami were the designated days for dusting and cleaning of the house followed by washing of household garments and bedlinen. The day of Phagun Krishnapaksh Dashmi was set aside for the traditional smearing of the whole house with a mix of clay, water and cowdung, locally known by the name of ‘livun’. The ‘Vatukh’ cormpised of earthen vessals of ‘Nout’, ‘Choud’, two wide mouthed ‘Doul’, two ‘Saniewari’, one ‘Sanipatul’ and five to seven clay saucers, locally known as ‘Toke’. Only the pooja utensils of Nout and Choud were filled-up with water at the village Inder Nag, whileas rest of the vessels were filled-up with water of the said spring at the ‘Vatuk Kuth’ itself. The sumptuous food spread of ‘roganjosh, kalya, the minced meat rolls called ‘mach’, combined dish of fish and nadru and sour tasting preparation of ‘Chok Charvun’ cooked with culinary expertise were the prized sacrifical offerings to the specified earthen vessal of ‘Bhairav Doul’, amidst elaborate pooja on Shivratri. As per the family specific ‘reeth’, cooked or fried head of the fish was an additional offering to the ‘Bhairav Doul’. Continuing his conversation, Sh. Girdhari Lal Koul further divulged that apart from the customary milk, a native dish of unpounded moong and raddish, known by the local name of ‘Sus-Muj’ was also a ritualistic offering to the ‘Resh Doul’. However excessive care was taken not to defile the piousness of the vegetarian offering of ‘Sus-muj’ by avoiding it’s contact with the meat dishes both during cooking and observance of the said offering. Sh Koul also revealed that during Shivratri pooja, an unwashed and uncooked sheep’s lung in its’ entirety with it’s heart intact was one more distinctive and unusual offering to the ‘Bhairav Doul’.
During the act of ‘Parmujan’ on the night of Shivratri, the said offering of sheeps’ lung was latter-on deposited either at one of the farthest corner’s of the house or at the base of a tree in the vicinity of house. It was in accordance with a prevalent belief that ‘Bhairav’ has the resting place either at the tree top or corners of the dwelling. Curiously enough, on the day next to Shivratri, locally known as ‘Salam’, pooja was agani performed for turmeric mixed cooked rice, known as ‘Taeher’ and uncooked, sheep’s lung having its heart intact. After performance of the pooja by the family priest in the morning, the said offering, locally known as ‘Chout Kharun’ was kept on the house top for the kites and crows to feed on. She. Girdhari Lal Koul lastly revealed that contrary to the usual practice of using baked clay lamps, his family specific reeth ordained that only sun dried earthen lamps were used both during ‘Doon Mavus’ and ‘Tila Ashtami’, pooja.
The indigenous Shviratri rituals are not only the hallmarks of a glorious tradition but also constitute the visible expressions of our unbridled faith, observed Sh. Pyare Lal Pandit, an erstwhile resident of the village Muran, district Pulama and now putting-up at Gandhi Nagar, Jammu.
Recapturing the fragrance of the festival of the yester years, he revealed that ‘Vatuk’ comprised of earthen vessels of ‘Nout’, ‘Choud’, only one ‘Doul’, five ‘Saniewaris’, in addition to one ‘Sanipatul’ and ‘Dhoopajoor’. The pooja untensils or ‘Vatuk’ was brought in the house by a male potter and not the pottress in a willow twigs woven carry-back carriage called ‘Kraej’ usually in the morning of Shivratri. The notable mossion was that of ‘Resh Doul’ among the pooja utensils only after the ritualistic waving of water filled vessel around the potter as a sign of welcome and good omen. Apart from cash, the potter was also paid rice, loose tea, sugar, cooking oil and spices. All the pooja utensils of the ‘Vatuk’ were filled-up with water at the village spring called Bhawan Nag. In addition to ‘Nout’ and ‘Choud’, the five Saniwaris’ were also filled up with water and one walnut in each. The ‘Vatk’ parmujan’ was done after midnight usually at the Bhawan Nag. It was also revealed that while leavnig the house for ‘Parmujan’, excepting for the ‘Vatak Kuth’, the electric lights of all the rooms of the house were switched off. Additionally, during Parmujan, the Bhairav Doul was emptied of it’s contents while sheltering it underneath a towel to keep it away from the gaze of the house inmates.
After ‘Parmujan’, the empty ‘Bhairav Doul’ was seated again at its earlier place in the pooja room, but strangely enough in upside down position. However, this upside down position was reversed on the evening of ‘Doon Mavus’. The ‘Doon Mavus’ pooja was usually performed collectively by most of the Pandit households at the Bhavan Nag. The ritual of ‘knock at the door’ or ‘thuk thuk’ was not observed before entry into the house. It was further revealed by Sh. Pandita that on Tila Ashtami, black Sesame seeds were put into seven home made diyas made out of kneaded rice flour as use of baked earthen lamps was forbidden as per the family ‘reeth’. After having been oil lit, they were placed in the living rooms of the house, cowshed, rice storage room and on the top of enclosing courtyard well. The rite of ‘Jattu toon’ was not performed.
The multiple Shivratri rituals play an inspiring role in shaping our socio-religious lives as they not only make us to remember our past but also facilitate to harmonise and galvanise our present existence, declared Sh. Shiv Kumar Raina, an original inhabitant of the village Kathwar, district Budgam and presently residing at Muthi, Jammu. Sharing the festival related memories, be recaptiulated that out of about forty Pandit families of the village prior to exodus, about twenty families having the surname of ‘Raina’ followed the vegetarian reeth on Shivratri.
The culinary repertoire of the vegetarian dishes which were sacrificial offerings to the ‘Bhairav Doul’ comprised of dumalu, nadru -palakh, yellow chese, hakh and nadru ‘chruma’. The pooja utensils were filled-up with water at the village streamlet. Interestingly enough all the Raina families of the said village would perform the ‘Doon Mavus’ pooja at their respective ‘Vatak Kuths’ and not at the streamlet. Consequently, the ‘knock at the door’ ritual of ‘Thuk Thuk’ was not observed by them. However, the distribution of walnuts as ‘Prasad’ among the neighbours was accomplished in the evening of ‘Doon Mavus’ itself. Sh Raina also stated that on ‘Tila Ashtami’ each of the said families would lit seven oil earthen lamps in the morning in ‘Vatak Kuth’. However, it was strictly ensured that they remained burning throughout the day and in the evening a few black sesame seeds were put in each of them as an act of oblation for the departed souls. Afterwards they were placed at the room windows, cowshed, shali storage room, rivulet bank and encompassing courtyard wall.
The Shviratri rituals reveal in telling measures about the antiquity of the religious assets of our faith, which amazingly have stayed with us even in disorderly and tumultuous phases of our lives, declared Sh. Ram Krishan Muthu, an erstwhile inhabitant of Drabiyar, Habbakadal Srinagar and now putting up at Anand Nagar Bohri, Jammu.
Recalling the festival of earlier times, Sh. Muthu revealed that as a prelude to the main festival, his family custom ordained that a combined dish of fish and raddish was cooked on Phagun Krishna Paksh Ashtami, known as ‘Hur Ashtami’. On Phagun Krishna Paksh Duvadashi, locally known as ‘Vagur Bah’, one earthen vessel ‘Nout’, one long and narrow necked earthen pitcher having a side handle known by the local name of ‘Bachi Naer’, one Saniwari, one Machiwari, one flat bottomed wide mouthed spherical earthen vessel having the local name of ‘Anyut’ and one ‘Vagur’ in the form of a brass vessel known by the local name of ‘Tumba’ were installed in the ‘Vatak Kuth’. Fifty one or fifty five walnuts were put inside the ‘Nout’ and ‘Bachi Naer’, whereas one to three walnuts were placed in Saniwari and Machiwari. In the evening of the same day cooked rice and mixed dish of fish and raddish was put in the earthen vessel of ‘Anyut’ amidst pooja. On the day of Shivratri, two wide mouthed earthen vessels designated as ‘Bhairav Doul’ and ‘Resh Doul’, one extra Saniwari and Machiwari were added to the already installed pooja vessels in the ‘Vatak Kuth’.
As per the family reeth, the delectable food spread consisted of Roganjosh, Kalya, combined dish of meat and nadru, mixed dish of nadru and turnip, combined dish of fish and raddish and yellow turnip, which were the sacrificial offerings to the Bhairav Doul. Pooja was also performed for small sized rice flour roti called ‘chochivor’ and pointed edged rice flour rotis, known by the local name of ‘Kanknivor’. Additionally symbolic figurative images, of kneaded rice flour locally known as ‘Kral, Kraej, Bhat, Batin, Shav, Shavin and Kath, Katin were also prepared on Shivratri. They formed a part of the pooja material. The split pieces of Chochivor and Kanknivor were also fried in oil and they were known by the local name of ‘Dren’. Alongwith the walnuts and roti’s, ‘Dren’ formed a part of the ‘naveed’ distributed among near and dear one’s. Pooja was also performed for cooked rice and a big sized piece of uncooked and unwashed sheeps’ lung put in an earthen saucer ‘Toke’. It was afterwards put on the house top for the birds to feed on. An additional sacrificial offering to the ‘Bhairav Doul consisted of fresh blood of the slaughtered sheep, which was procured from the slaughter house.
The ‘Doon Mavus’ pooja was performed on Phagun Shakula Pakash Pratipadha evening on the river bank of Drabiyar ghat. The pooja utensils of Vagur, Bachi Naer, Saniwari and Machiwari were taken to the yarbal ghat usually by the daughter-in-law. They were replenished with fresh water and pooja was also performed there. During pooja the flowing water of the river was cut once crosswise with a knife. On return, the main door of the house was opened only after the symbolic conversational dialogue between the house inmates behind the main closed door of the house,as per the family specific custom. During the said converstion of the ‘knock at the door’ ritual, it was customary to say Shiv and Parvati in reply to a symbolic question regardnig the identity of persons outside the closed door. In response to another symbolic question about the accompanying witness, the answer given was that of Lord Shiva Himself. In the native Kashmiri language the said ritualistic conversation would run like this “Kus Chuv, Shiv Ti Parvati, Kya Heth: aun, dhana, orju, rozgar, soukh, sampadha, ti shanti heth, Parie Kus: Pana Shiv Nath”.
Interestingly enough, during, it, the usual and most prevalent word ‘Ram Broar’ is substituted by Shiv and Parvati, while as Lord Shiva, the God of Gods Himself is also mentioned as an accompanying witness. Afterwards the utensil of ‘Baesh Naer’ was seated on backside space of the mud hearth called ‘dhaan’ in the kitchen room as a mark of good omen for smooth running of the kitchen related affairs and overall sustenance. The fish and most favourite vegetable ‘hakh’ were the customary dishes as per the family reeth on the said day and meals could be taken only after pooja was undertaken on Tila Ashtami. The utilised pooja material and embellishments like ‘Vusir and grass woven ‘Aarrie etc. were deposited into the flowing water of the river. Two to three earthen lamps filled with oil were kept lit on the river bank and a few were floated in the river by placing them on the grass woven bases called ‘Aarie’.
Sh. Ram Krishan Muthu also divulged that during Shivratri pooja, black pepper, sugar crystals called ‘nabud and home made light drink locally called ‘Panakh’ were the ritualistic offerings to the designated utensil of ‘Nout’, inaddition to the usual milk kund and vatak masala.
Ending the conversation, it was also intimated by him that as per a prevalent belief Phagun Krishna Paksh Duvadashi or ‘Vagur Bah’ is regarded as the symbolic Mehendiraat of the Goddess Parvati, Phagun Krishan Paksh Triyadashi constitutes the symbolic celestial marriage of the Goddess Parvati with the Lord Shiva while as Phagun Krishna Paksh Amavasya or Doon Mavus’ is believed to be the equivalent of ‘Kushalhoum’.
Source: Kashmir Sentinel