KATHMANDU, Jan 17: The Shree Swasthani Brata Katha, a popular ritual observed by the Hindus since Poush Shukla Purnima (full moon day), has begun from today. The festival ends a month after in Magh Shukla Purnima. Hindus also observes Maghesnan or Makarsnan (holy bath) from today itself.
The month-long telling ritual is dedicated to the goddess and the stories that are mainly narrated are those of Swasthani Devi, God Shiva and other gods. During this festival, married Hindu women observe Brata or fasting for the wellbeing of their husbands and unmarried women observe the Brata in order to get a good husband. Women wear red colored clothes and bangles during the one-month period as it is believed that red is a sign of good luck.
Similarly, on the day of Poush Shukla Chaturdashi in the beginning of the festival, people cut nails of their hands and knees, take a bath and wear clean clothes. After this, they worship Lord Mahadev till afternoon. In the evening, there is a tradition of listening to the story of Swasthani Brata, a dialogue between Kumar Agastya of Magh Mahatmya under the Kedar section of Skanda Puran.
The rituals associated with the Swasthani Katha take place on the bank of rivers in various Hindu shrines across the country. Devotees from Kathmandu flock to the Salinadi bank in Sankhu to pay homage to goddesses Shree Swasthani, Navaraj Brahman, Goma Brahmani, and Chandrawati at several shrines.