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A traditional Bengali festival i.e. Charak Puja is celebrated mainly in the rural areas. This festival is dedicated to penance i.e. the Charak Puja stands uniquely in the scenario of Bengali festival. Gajan is also a Hindu festival which is celebrated mostly in the Indian state of West Bengal. This festival is connected with the deities like Dharmathakur, Neel and Shiva.
The word Gajan in Bengali language is originated from the word Roar or Garjan that emits during the festival. The word is also considered as a combination of parts of two words i.e. ga which is from the gram, means village and Jan originated from the word janasadharan meaning folk. So in this sense, this is rge festival of folk.
In the Shiva’s Gajan, Lord Shiva is married to Harakali on this day i.e. the sannyasis from the bridegroom’s party (barjatri). According to the Dharma’s gajan, Dharmathakur is married to Mukti. The gathering of women and men who took up the Brata i.e. the time bound ritual has to go cross a fasting of a month i.e. from sunrise to sunset. During this period they live strictly on fruits and also perform the daily worship for getting the blessings of the lord.
During the day of Charak or Gajan, bamboo stages are constructed of bamboo poles having the height of 10 to 15 feet. After the month long fasting, the devotees also step up the huge bamboo stages and also hurl themselves forward. They fall on the ground, which is embedded with devious weapons, knives, thorns and glass. But the devotees also escape unhunt. People believe that the blessings of God keep them safe from any harm. The devotees of Charak Pujan also have another method of showing their god’s blessings. They impale their body without feeling any pain. This festival not only reflects the blind faith of devotees towards their god but the eagerness to accept penance on the road for achieving salvation.
A very famous Gajan utsav is celebrated in Baruipur which initiated with the exposition of a lock of hair of one Bhriguram. The story behind Bhriguram is also very interesting. It is well said that there was a severely contested lathi fight among the lathials of the Roy Choudhurys of Baruipur and the Sabarna Choudhurys f Barisa over the boundary dispute of the respected Zamindars. The Sardar of lathials of the Sabarna Choudhurys was well known as Bhriguram. So the lathials of Baruipur also managed to cut off their heads of Bhriguram with swords and they won the fight. On the other hand, Bhriguram was so much respected in the area, that his lock of hair was preserved. Lock on the gajan mela at Baruipur is still publicly honors in the Bhriguram.
In West Bengal, Charak Puja has its own value. Goddess Shakti and Lord Shiva are worshipped on the day of Charak Pooja which is also known as Batri Charak, Hajrha Puja and Nil Puja. This festival is celebrated at midnight of the Chaitra Sankranti and its preparation starts, at least a month in advance.
The rituals mentioned in this article are the real reason behind this Charak Pujan. If you have additional knowledge regarding this festival then please share with us in the comments.