Bala Chaturdashi, often called Bala Cha: re is one trivial event but it has an essential place in our lives. It is also called the day of sowing Satbij. In the Nepalese term, it is pronounced as Satbij charne din, where the seven kinds of grains are mixed and sowed to the jungles of Sleshmantak.
Sleshmantak Ban or the jungle is contemplated as one of the holiest jungles of Nepal, which lies nearby in the complex of the temple of Pasupatinath. There is even an interesting story related to the beginning of this kind of liveliness, which is explained in the following topic.
Hereabouts, the day is very important for those who recently or within a year lost their family members or relatives. This event has the same importance and affection as in the Matathirtha Aausi or in the Kushe Aushi.
The only difference between that this day contain is that it doesn’t consider one specific member of the family to be rescued in heaven as in the other two major aausi. Instead, they all prayed for the proper departure of all the restless souls to heaven.
The Bala Chaturdashi generally lies on the month of Mangsir i.e, the starting of the winter season in Nepal. To participate in this ceremony or the event of sowing satbij, one must bathe on the Bagmati river early in the morning. Only after one would be qualified to sow seeds.
How do we observe Bala Chataurdashi?
We light traditional oil lamp (diyo) and recite mantras. We keep ourselves awake all night to ensure that the lamp keeps burning. We chant mantras, sing Bhajans and dance through night paying honor to Lord Shiva. The next day at daybreak we go to holy Baghmati River for ritual bathing. Baghmati is considered to be the most holy river for all Nepali. Taking dip three times into Bagmati River is considered a path to purification.
After bathing in the Baghmati River pilgrims visits and worships almost all of the temples and idols in and around Pashupatinath as much they can. The devotees pass dropping the satbij, the mixture of seven sacred seeds in these temples and the 108 Shiva Linga present in the vicinity of Pashupatinath Temple. All walk through the same path followed for many years. It passes through Kailash forest and return back to the Pashupatinath temple.
The end part of Satbij droping ceremony is done for fun after long walk and rituals. Lord Ganesh’s idol present near the Bishwaroop temple is believed to be deaf; people shake him and scream and shout in the ear to wake him up. This adds a fun flavor to the whole ceremony.
Why is Bala Chaturdashi Observed?
Seeds are dropped in remembrance of dead beloved ones. It is believed by performing Bala Chaturdashi rituals we can secure a better place in heaven for the dead relatives. It is also believed that this helps settle the restless souls of departed ones who were not properly burnt. This is true that when thousands of people pray for the same consideration, that will be fulfilled.
Slesmantak forest, where the satbij is dropped is mentioned in Shiva Puran Mirgasthali as the place where lord Shiva dwelled as Deer. This place is hence considered very sacred place and hence a drop of seed in this place is equal to a Ratti of gold (which is about 0.121 grams).
Satbij are often called Saptabij/Saptbij. As we already know, Satbij contains seven types of grains but did you also know that it symbolizes the seven planets. Here are the names and it’s representations as a planet of grains.
Story Behind Bala Chaturdashi:
Bala Nanda, a trader, came to Arya Ghat (where people are cremated through burning), to attend funeral of one of his relatives. Bala Nanda sitting nearby and eating the ceremonial food, a small portion of the dead body popped out from the fire into his plate. He unknowingly swallowed flesh of dead body that fell into his plate. Soon he swallowed the flesh he transformed into a horrible demon having silver head. He became cannibal (man eating human meat). Bala Nanda suddenly grabbed out dead body from the fire and started eating it. People were terrified and ran away.
Then onwards he is called Balsur. Asur meaning Demon. (Bala+Asur=Balasur). Arya Ghat then became the favorite place for Balasur. People were scared to go to Arya Ghat to cremate dead relatives. People pleaded then king to solve the problem. King assigned Brisha Singh, very good friend of Balasur to kill him. Brisha manage to kill Balasur by betrayal.
Brisha felt guilty to deceive Bala. He went to meditation in the Sleshmantak Ban (forest) and enchanted Om and prayed to Lord Shiva for the rescue of his friend Balasur. Lord Shiva was pleased by his sincere affection for his friend. Lord Shiva helped in salvation of Balasur. Lord Shiva also told Brisha to scatter sat bij, or seven varieties of grain, on the holy grounds of the Shlesmantak forest to cleanse the sin of Balasur and to erase his own guilt for killing a friend. From the day, the tradition of Dropping Seven Grains (Sat biu) started.
At the end of the Satbij sowing, Lord Ganesh’s idol present near the Bishwaroop temple is believed to be shaken and people even scream out and shout in the ear of that idol to wake him up. It is believed that Ganesh established there is deaf and people just try to wake him up through their silly acts. Hence, this adds a merry flavor to the entire ceremony.