Just Another Day In Paradise – Chhattisgarh, India

MAJOR EVENTS

75: DAYS, PAATH JATRA – Given that the chariot is the main focus of the festivities, on the first day, tribals from the region bring a piece of sal tree log. The ceremony starts with invocation to the piece of wood with sacrifice of mongri fish and goats. The King blesses the wood and ushers in a period of festivities.

45: DERI GADHAI – On the second ceremonious day of the festival, almost a month after the Paath Jatra, villagers bring a cluster small branches to install a mandap. A range of other objects are also placed along with the branches. The main ingredient here is puffed rice, which is kept with the branches. An auspicious start to the festival is continued with this creation of a mandap.

30, KACHCHIN GADI – Two weeks after the Deri Gadhai, it is time for the Kachchin Gadi Pooja at an ancient gudi (temple), dedicated to Goddess Kachchin. On this day, a young virgin from the village adorns the role of Kachchin Devi, by going into trance and sit on a swing of thorns. The King arrives here to ask the Devi for her permission to start the festival.

10: KALASH STHAPANA – The Kalash Sthapana takes off from the Hindu custom during Navratris, of sowing barley in small pots and commencing the puja of the Goddess. The evening of the Kalash Sthapana is also reserved for Jogi Paithayee. In this, a specific Muria (tribal) family of devotees is under focus. A young man of the family starts a fast of nine days, sitting in one position inside a deep pit, in order to ask the Goddess to bless the region.

3: MAHA ASHTAMI – The morning is assigned to the Ashtami puja at the Danteshwari temple at Bastar Palace. On this day, the celebrations are at the Danteshwari temple and entail a gathering of royal priests and the King to worship the weapons of the Goddess. On the same night an intriguing ceremony called Nisha Jatra takes place. The ceremony begins with the King paying homage, while 12 men from the milkmen community arrive with earthen pots filled with bhog.

Baiga Tribe

3: JOGI UTHAYEE – The Jogi Uthayee comes after nine days of Jogi sitting on a fast at the concrete pit at the Sirhasar Bhavan. It is finally time for him to take his first morsel of food in so many days and complete the challenging act of obeisance for the Goddess.

2, PROCESSION FROM THE DANTESHWARI TEMPLE – This is the day that the Devi leaves in a palanquin for Jagdalpur with Bison Horn Marias leading the procession with a dance from her temple in Dantewada. At night, the palanquin arrives in Jagdalpur to be welcomed by the King (dressed as a priest).This is known as Mavali Parghav.

2: BHEETAR RAINI WITH RATH PARIKRAMA – Finally the day comes when the chariot is ready to be showcased fully and carry Goddess Danteshwari around the city. The circular perambulation of the town is done amidst swarms of people and hypnotic Angas (possessed God men) running unpredictably. At night, when the chaos subsides, the Bison Horn Marias mock-steal the rath again and drag it to the Kumda-kot field, — 4km outside town.

1: KACHCHAN JATRA – As a sequel to the Kachchan Gadi puja in the beginning of the celebrations. This is the day to bid adieu to the Kachchan Devi through the young virgin girl who embodies the spirit of the Devi.

1: BAHAR RAINI WITH RATH PARIKRAMA – The next morning, the King arrives with his ministers to retrieve the chariot.

0: KUTUMB JATRA – This is the final day when all the Gods and Goddesses bid adieu. A makeshift shrine is created with banana leaves, paddy, flowers and offerings in a small field. The celebrations reach a crescendo with many people under the spell of the devis. At midnight, the mightiest Danteshwari Devi leaves for Dantewada.

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