Cow is a sacred animal with a great role in the culture and religion of Nepal. Every part of the cow is sacred, precious and worth worshipping. Known as Gau-mata or the mother-cow, it is worshipped as goddess by Nepal’s Hindus. She is basically termed as goddess Luxmi, the escort of God Vishnu, the preserver. It is therefore naturally the topmost and highly respected goddess. Following Hindu traditions and belief, cow slaughter is strictly prohibited and punishable by law here. Cow is also the national animal of Nepal.
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Climatically Nepal may be categorized as a monsoon country with clear climate-based seasons often divided into six seasons of two months each. They are Grishma (Summer), Barsha (Rainy), Sharad (Autumn), Hemant (Pre-winter), Sishir (Winter) and Basanta (Spring). However, climatic conditions differ very much from place to place depending upon many factors – the plains or the valleys or the hills or river basin besides such factors as the nature of wind, the face of the mountains, proximity to the sea, snow, forests and the like. Plain regions of the Terai are much hotter than mountain regions. Kathmandu valley situated mountain areas is at the altitude of 4300 feet from sea level. Temperature in Kathmandu during summer goes up to 34 or 35 degree Celsius where as its minimum temperature in winter is -2 degree Celsius. In Tarai the maximum temperature goes up beyond 44 degree Celsius where as in Himalayan regions in high altitude are usually sub-zero temperatures.
Especially famous for the gorge, being the only outlet for all water to pass out of Kathmandu Valley. According to ancient chronicles, Manjushree cut the gorge to drain out water from Kathmandu Valley when it was a lake (ref. Swayambhu). Many stories are woven around this gorge and the Chovar area as a whole. A picturesque temple of Adinath also known as Buddha Avalokiteswar is a famous place of worship on the top of the hill. It is often visited and worshipped by many Hindu and Buddhist devotees from all the cities and towns of Kathmandu valley. There are several occasions when crowds of people gather on this hilltop and also along the river bank at the bottom of Chovar hill to observe religious fairs and festivals.
A high official in the palace of God Yamaraj or the God of the death, Chitragupta maintains records of the sins and virtues of all living beings. It is on the basis of his meticulously maintained records Yamaraj decides whether one deserves a place in the heaven or in the hell as well as the rewards and punishments.
Inspite of its being a trade centre, the abode of multiplicity of culture and ethnicity and the centre of small industries, Chitwan is a district of the Narayani Zone is more famous for largest forest areas of Nepal. It is a great attraction for tourists, nature lovers, bird watchers and all, this district is known as the paradise of animals and hunting sports. Rhinos, Elephants, Tigers, Deer, Chittah and many other kinds of animals, reptiles and birds are found in the huge and mysterious forests of this districts.
Scattered in the districts of Baglung and Myagdi of the Magarant region, the 20,000-strong Chhantyal population has its own language akin to the Thakali. Chhantyal culture and practices resemble those of the Magars. However, the Bhalanja section of Chhantyals considers the Kusundas as their ancestors. The Chhantyals are animists and profess shamanism. In religious practices, they are closer to the Magars. Previously believed to be employed in the Nepalese mines, today’s Chhantyals are mostly concentrated in farming.
According to legend, long time ago, the Kathmandu valley was a huge lake inhabited by the countless numbers and types of aquatic animals, mostly serpents known as Nagas. So it was known as Nag Rhada or Nag-Daha meaning the home of the serpents or the lake of the Serpent-Gods. One day, Manjushree Bodhisattwa, a Buddhist saint from China, saw the lake and cut through the southern hill of the valley with one stroke by his legendary sword Chandrahas and drained of the water compelling all the marine creatures to leave the lake. But a creature known as Chhepu stayed back. When, by his yogic power, Manjushree realized that a giant creature known as Chhepu was still hiding somewhere under the water, he commanded him to leave the lake without any delay. Devoid of power and naturally terrified, the Chhepu promised to leave on the condition that Manjushree would not see his ugly self as he moved out of the lake. Manjushree agreed to it but, as the legend goes, he could not resist opening his eye partially out of curiosity while the huge bodied Chhepu was moved out to leave the lake. As soon as the fear-stricken creature noticed that Manjushree was watching his ugly body, he got upset and quickly dived deep under the water to hide himself again. Manjushree became ashamed for breaking his promise and, therefore, assured Chhepu never to see the lower half of his body which has not been seen by anybody so far and that he would be treated respectfully. He was also allowed to occupy a very significant place in the temples to be built up in Kathmandu valley and would remain there half-hidden for ever.
The architectural tradition of showing only half of Chhepu’s body above the tympanums of the temple doorways in many temples of Kathmandu is based upon the above legend. Figures of this fascinating creature Chhepu in bronze, brass, wood and stone can be seen in Buddhist as well as Hindu temples situated in and around Kathmandu Valley.
The chhatra or the Parasol or the big painted umbrella is a common object seen with Gods and Goddesses seemingly to protect them from the harshness of the weather. But, in religious terms it is a symbol of Buddhist goddesses of protection such as Pancharaksha and Usnisasita. It protects from all forms of evil. It is one of the important components of the eight good luck symbols projected in many important places like temples, monasteries and even households.
One of the most backward ethnic groups of Nepal, the Chepangs inhabit remote areas, detached from others. Sparse contours, river banks, outback areas and cave likes precipices are the likely places for their habitation. Chepangs are found in the districts of Makwanpur, Chitwan, Gorkha and Dhading. They have their own distinct language belonging to one of the Tibeto-Burman strains. Like the Kusundas, the Chepangs also shun farming and prefer to forage for tubers or for fishing for their livelihood. They are born hunters. Their clan priests are called Pandes. It is felt that their religion and culture are influenced by the Tamangs.
The fourth day of Bhadra is observed as Chatha by Newar communities when they worship the moon in the evening, and consume fried beans, sweets and fruits. The Newars do not look at the moon that evening, believing that the moon was cursed on this day by Ganesh, the elephant headed God with an effect that whosoever saw the moon that night could be falsely accused of theft. People would hide on this evening and pray for the safety of the moon itself. Though this is a very old practice, some Newars still believe in this practice.
A fascinating aspect of Chatha Deo, meaning the God of theft is that the moon on this particular day is worshipped as the god of theft as it is associated with the theme of theft. According to an traditional belief, those who want to give themselves to theft as a profession should steal something on this day and give it as a gift to Chatha dyo, the God of theft. It is also said that those who fail in stealing on this day will not succeed in business for the year to come. As the age old custom would have it, small kids on this particular day from early in the morning go haunting around the fruit gardens of their neighbours to steal fruits like oranges, pears, peaches, plums and so on which they pin up like medallions to the dresses they wear. The main purpose behind this is interestingly to show that the fruit fairly pinned up to their dresses are by no means from theft but their own. The kids carry such fruits all day long till the thief’s “god” is worshipped in the late evening. It is in this worship that they make offering of all those fruits to the Chatha Dyo (Moon). The Newari word chatha dyo also connotes one with a suspicious character and calling one Chatha Dyo can be agitating. Another word for Chatha Dyo is Chattuchor.
Religious texts say that the moon was born out of the human mind. As a matter of fact, there is a very close affinity between the moon and the human mind. Both are liable to rise and fall regularly in course of their life. So both are said to symbolize illusion which Gods always hate. Lord Shiva has the moon tucked in his matted hair symbolizes his divine wisdom to keep controlling the restless mind. Moonless nights are generally compared to the completely controlled minds which are free from illusions. This festival always falls on the fourth day of the bright fortnight of Bhadra is indicative of the human mind mingled with the moon which remains far away from the divine vision of the moon.