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Chaitti

 
According to the vikrami calendar the new year begins in the month of Chaitra. The first day of this month (Chaitra Sankranti) is considered very important and is celebrated all over the state. Two colourful festivals are celebrated during this month . One is Navratri and the other is Ralli Puja. In some corner of the house which faces east a plant is covered with soil and sown with barley seeds, coconut, symbolising the goddess Bhagwati is also placed near it. For nine days the ritual 'puja' is performed there and on the tenth day (Dashami) the barley shoots are distributed all over the village. These shoots are known as Riholi and they are said to symbolise the goddess Durga Bhagwati.

In Ralli Puja, the young unmarried girls in the village make little statues of the lord Shiva and his wife Parvati and place these on a plank and offer prayers to it throughout the month of Chaitra. The entire ritual is strange and beautiful. All the young unmarried girls gather early in the morning in the house where Ralli is going to be worshipped and afterwards they go to the local lake singing songs. There they bathe and fill small metal pots with water and come home and bathe the deities with this and offer them flowers. At the end of the month a ritual wedding between Ralli and Lord Shiva is enacted. On the Baisakhi day Ralli is brought out ceremoniously in a palanquin and taken to a river bank. There she is immersed in the water and as it is being done the girls cry and weep. On the day of the wedding, people are invited for Bhat (ritual feast) and the girls pray to the goddess to bless them with a husband as good as her own.


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