Why Do We Do Kharchi Pooja?•
Posted on June 18 2022
Kharchi Pooja is a Hindu festival and the pooja is carried out to worship Mother Earth. The term Kharchi originates from the khya that means earth. Interestingly, this pooja is done only in Agartala, the capital of the north eastern state Tripura. It is performed in the Chaturdasha temple. The rituals followed as a part of this pooja have a tribal origin.
Mother Earth is worshipped during this puja along with 14 other deities. These deities are Shiva, Himadri, Durga, Kamdev, Vishnu, Agni, Lakshmi, Ganga, Saraswati, Chandra, Kartik, Abadhi, Ganesha and Brahma. It is worth noting that all these deities are represented only with heads and none of them have a body. All the deities are worshipped with true fervour for the welfare of the state and its people. Shiva, Durga and Vishnu are worshipped throughout the year while the other deities are worshipped only on the seven days of the Kharchi Pooja festival.
Except for the idol of Lord Shiva, all the other deities are made using bronze or gold. The idol of Lord Shiva is made of silver. It is customary to place a half moon symbol behind the deities. This is supposed to be the symbol of the kings of the Tripura dynasty in the past.
The Kharchi Pooja is a seven-day festival and commences on the eighth day after the new moon in the bright Shukla Paksha. This is essentially 15 days after Ama Pechi that marks the menstruation of Bhudevi. The festival is celebrated to cleanse Mother Earth and free Her of the impurity during menstruation and also to wash off all sins. No form of agricultural activity is carried out during this period. The pooja takes place on all seven days and is attended by several people inside and outside the state.
The Kharchi Pooja rituals start with a holy bath of the chaturdasa devata or fourteen gods on the day of the pooja. The gods are carried from the temple to the holy river Saidra for their bath. They must be carried and bathed only by Brahmins and members of the Chantai tribal members of the temple. The members also chant several verses in while giving the idols their bath.
After the bath, the gods are taken back to the temple premises. They are decorated with flowers and vermillion and worshipped by the temple priest. No one else is granted admission to perform or witness these rituals.
This is followed by taking the deities to another room that is surrounded by an iron net and kept there for devotees to have their darshan for the seven days. Apart from offering fruits and flowers to the gods, devotees also make animal sacrifices like pigeons, he-goats and chickens.
A myriad of celebrations and cultural programs in the evenings is an important aspect of the Kharchi Pooja. People assemble in groups to praise Mother Earth rejoice her greatness with a lot of singing, dancing and more. A fair is also held with various stalls for snacks, kitchen utensils and other household items, toys and sugar candies. There are also several joy rides for children and adults to enjoy alike. Participants wish each other happiness, success and joy.
There is an interesting story about the Kharchi Pooja. It is said that the legendary king Tripur of the state died without leaving a heir to the throne. The fourteen gods consoled his widow and promised to bless her with a son. However, in return, the gods demanded that the people of the state offer their prayers to them on a regular basis. This is how the festival was first celebrated and the tradition still continues to this day.
Kharchi Pooja is primarily a tribal festival. However, over the years, the festival has witnessed active participation by non-tribals as well. Devotees from in and around Tripura come to witness this pooja and set an ideal example of national integration.
The pooja highlights the cultural identity of the state. It is also a prayer for the welfare of the state and its people, primarily for safety from diseases and death, excellent harvest and prosperity. The pooja also marks a beautiful way of revering Mother Earth for all that she provides.
Written by - Deepthi K