The last day of Gajan festival has approached and we are on our way to Krishnadevpur to attend the Charak festival, date is 14th April, every year on this date is Charak. We bid adieu to our wonderful Host’s and their family members and troop off to Krishnadevpur,
Our previous day scouting trip had prepared us for the lay of the village of Krishnadevpur and we knew where to find the artists getting ready for the walk around the village. Mondir Tola
is where we found the artists getting ready as kali and devil, to enact different mythological skits.
Almost every character has a story to tell and it is a interesting time listening to there stories and watching them enact the mythological interpretations in there own way.
As evening set in we headed to Krishnadevpur High school ground where the most authentic and 67 year old Charak is celebrated. Started by Khokon Sanyasi.
One Mr. Nepali Sardar a fisherman
Guided us by profession who is a sanyasi, his 3 sons too have been part of the charak festival and have taken the Hook (it is a ritual where they hang themselves from the skin to show there devotion to Lord Shiva)
Charak is traditionally the worship of the charak tree, which is a straight trunk of a tree with no branches and going up to 40 feet in height.
The charak tree is believed to be home of male and female form of Lord shiva and a mask of “Ardhinareshwar” will be placed on this tree before it is hosted up.
The trunk is worshipped and planted into the ground and a cross pole made on bamboo is fixed on top, which will hold the pierced and hooked devotees when they hang from the rope suspended from the charak.
As we walked to the school ground we came across a sanyasi who had on previous occasion taken the hook, we saw the marks on his body that he claimed heals in 15 days tops with no medication.
There is another group who pierces their tongues and cheeks and various parts of their face with thin metal spikes.
There is no blood and the sanyasis do not seem to be in pain of any sort , it is seen as a thing of pride that they could take part in the ritual. There is a school of thought which suggest it is the men experiencing the pain of childbirth (like a role reversal) for the men.
The only healing process they indulge in is applying the juices of the mango fruit from the tree on their wounds
Those who take the hook and hang themselves from the charak, while being hung often have infants handed to them, it is considered good for the infant to be in the air and on the charak in the arms of the sanyasi who is in the air.
Once suspended the charak top is rotated with the help of a ancillary rope that is tied to the top bamboo pole, and it is a manual process of a or a couple of sanyasis taking the charak for a spin while the suspended sanyasi is hanging by his skin literally
While the sanyasi is suspended at times he has offerings to god that he tosses to the devotees and to the public in general
Charak comes to an end with the passage of the evening to night, and we head back to our homes along with the devotees, we have just witnessed an supreme effort by humans to appease Lord Shiva will he be kind to his devotees and happy with there penance to answer there prayers? The coming year will tell.
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