November 7, 2018 10:17 AM NPT
By: Krishna KC
KATHMANDU, Nov 7: As Thursday marks the fourth day of Tihar, the Newar community across the country will be celebrating Mha Puja (worship of the self). Every year, during Govardhan Puja, Newari people worship themselves so as to observe their New Year according to Nepal Sambat.
Thursday will be the beginning of Nepal Sambat 1139. Usually family members are scattered over various places in course of their jobs and various other purposes but they gather at home for Mha Puja, which is done together with the family. By waking up early in the morning, each member takes bath to purify him or her. It is believed that the body must be kept clean on this day, as it will be worshiped later.
This festival also signifies the importance of self or soul, which is the reason one's body is worshiped. People are taught that God resides within them and a person must be responsible for protecting and rescuing themselves. It is not possible to have internal peace until we have a peaceful body, which is why Newari people worship their bodies on this day. This is expected to keep them safe and their minds and hearts at peace.
All members of the family sit down cross-legged on floors as per the hierarchy of their age. Then the senior member of the family worships them. To begin the Puja, sacred sand painting known as Mandalas are drawn in front of each member. Then the other processes begin. The egg of duck or chicken is offered as gift to God. Various other items such as Itaa (hand-woven cotton threads), black soybean, black lentil, unpolished rice, red rice among others play equally pivotal roles in the Puja.
Though it is yet to be known when exactly the tradition of celebrating Mha puja started, says cultural expert Janani Prasad Mul. There are various myths associated with its origin. One of the motives of conducting this Puja is to make people understand themselves, as it is not possible for us to understand the world without understanding ourselves.