Published On: September 25, 2017 09:46 AM NPT By: Rohit Rai

Pilgrims Throng Navaratri Mela in Dharan

Pilgrims Throng Navaratri Mela in Dharan

DHARAN, Sept 25: One of the biggest festivals of Nepali Hindus, Dashain, began on Thursday. During the festival, it is an age old tradition to go on pilgrimages so as to pay homage to Goddess Durga and her several incarnations. Navaratri Mela is one of the most important features of Dashain in Dharan. 

This festival of nine nights is dedicated to the glorification of Shakti, the feminine divine form, where early morning pilgrims visit various shrines and worship the different forms of Goddess Durga. During Navaratri, nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped. 

The nine incarnations of Goddess Durga—Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayini, Kaalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidaatri are worshipped respectively for nine consecutive days. 

Stories behind Dashain and Navaratri Mela
There are different stories that tell the tales of Dashain festival. It is believed that in Satya Yuga (Era of Truth) gods and demons fought a huge war where the team of gods could not beat the demons led by Mahishasur.

At this point Goddess Durga in her majestic form having 18 hands slaughtered Mahishasur and freed the gods as well as humans from the evil deeds of the demons. Thus, Dashain is a celebration of victory of good over evil along with the power of women.

Likewise, Dashain in tarai region is the celebration of victory of Lord Ram, who killed Ravan. The festival is also called Dashehara. Meanwhile, from the day of Ghatasthapana, visitors throng various shaktipiths (pilgrims) during the Navaratri Mela. One of the most visited Shkatipiths –Dantakali temple–is situated at Dharan-14.

Main priest at the temple, Bishworaj Khanal, informed, “According to the puranas (vedas), as Shiva was devastated upon Sati’s death and was carrying her carcass around the world on his shoulders, a part of Sati’s teeth had fallen off at the place where the temple is situated now. And Sati being one of the incarnations of Goddess Durga, people of Dharan flock this temple during the Navaratri Mela.” Likewise, Guheswori of Kathmandu and Siddhikali of Sankhuwasabha are other shaktipiths mentioned in the puranas, as per Khanal.

Changing trends of pilgrimage
Unlike in the earlier days, the older members of the family are accompanied by the younger generations to the Dantakali Temple. Even teenagers are keen to visit the temple during the Navaratri Mela. One of the reasons being, they get to hang out with their friends at a fun religious fair. 

Those who participate in the Navaratri Mela wake up at midnight and take off to the temple through Bijayapur Danda and reach the temple early in the morning.

They then wait for the temple door to open. Talking about the interest of youths and teenagers in the Navaratri Mela, local of Dharan-14 Durga Bhujel expressed, “The young people visit the temple with the main aim of having fun rather than with faith and belief. These days I feel like Dashain has arrived whenever I see young people coming to the temple. They reach the Dhantakali Temple before dawn.”

Dharan is a scenic place with historical and cultural significance having various temples such as Dhantakali, Pindeshwor Mahadev, Buddhasubba and Panchakanya. Talking about the current trend, tourism entrepreneur and cultural researcher Basudev Baral expressed, “Though the youngsters’ main is to have fun, their visit to the temple has definitely helped in the area’s economic development. This is a positive sign for internal tourism.”

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