Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The month of Baishakh and the Sambhunath temple


Sambhunath temple
If you are in the Eastern Nepal in the month of Baishakh (April-May), make sure to pay a visit to the Sambhunath temple. The temple is in the Sambhunath Village Development Committee (VDC) of the Saptary district adjacent to the East-West Highway. A month-long fair is observed at the premises of the temple to usher the New Year and pay obeisance to the Lord Shiva.

The Shiva Linga is believed to be growing.

Sambhunath is one of Lord Shiva’s many avatars. However, the Tharus call the deity Semnath and the month-long fair Semnath Dham (Refer to the comment by Mr Bhulai Chaudhary at the end of this article). On the very first day of the year (first of Baishakh), locals and pilgrims from surrounding districts and India come here to worship and offer “jal” (water) to the Shiva Linga which is continuously growing (as believed by local people). During the month-long fair, people worship Sambhunath and offer jal from the nearby pond. People with warts offer a pair of brinjals to the deity to get rid of the skin disorder. Miraculously, many people get cured of the warts. The fair at the temple premises offer you everything from edible items to entertainment like theatrical performances.

There are two ponds near the temple. Worshippers take bath and take water for offering to Shiva from the one situated at the western part of the temple. Another at the eastern part is bigger in size. It was a huge wetland in the past, however, due to encroachment has reduced to a pond. Still, the wetland attracts migratory birds and bear lotuses. It is in dire need of conservation.

Ruins of an earlier settlement

It has not been ascertained how old the Shiva Linga is. The ruins at the southern part of the temple indicate that the Lingam belongs to a very old settlement. The pieces of pillars and columns suggest there was an ancient kingdom in that area. It needs further study and research. The locals need to attract archaeologists to this site to delve into the history of the area. Meanwhile some people have been stealing away the precious pieces of ruins. It needs to stop and the area needs preservation measures from the state.

Nearby, in Kanakpatti Village, after the huge earthquake of 2050 Bikram Sambat (1993 AD), a nicely carved terracotta wall emerged from a hillock. Local people rushed to the area to collect the terracotta pieces. Later the Archaeology Department sealed the area for further research but it never saw the light of the day. This further indicates that the area was a burning hub of activities in the past.

There are many myths surrounding the Sambhunath temple and I request you to contribute to this article by posting the myths surrounding the temple.

2 comments:

  1. Dear Sanjib Ji
    Thank you a lot for providing us a well structured article on " Sambhunath" and we hope to have other more too. I don't have more comments on it rather than its local history common in the local Tharu community. According to it, it is not Sambhunath, but Semnath, a Tharu name or Tharu boy who had been by the way empowered oneself with the divinely power and the people then started to worship him since that
    time. Later on, people from other communities especially Hindu minded people also started to visit this place and by observing its physical structure they named it Shiva ling and thus Sambhunath in the name of Lord Shiva. Can you imagine that a Shiva ling should be worshipped by a goat sacrifice which is common to this place? Mostly, in Tharu community you will come to hear Semnath Dham not Sabhunath Dham. So, this is totally Tharu property. I think, Mr. Nand lal's article on it published in the recent Ijot magazine will be helpful to you in this regards. Thank you.

    Bhulai Chaudhary

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Bhulai Sir for making clear the facts. I will cover the details in a follow-up article on Semnath and surrounding. Thanks for referring to Mr. Nand Lal's article.

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