Nepal is celebrating ‘Bala Chaturdashi‘ today!
Throngs of Hindu devotees from across Nepal are visiting the Pashupatinath temple to pay respect to their deceased family members who died in the last one year.
Bala Chaturdashi is also famous as Sat bij Chharne Din.
As per the ritual, pilgrims camp around the temple, light oil lamps and observe penance all through the night and pray for their departed ones.
During this time of prayer and penance, they also sing and dance to hymns while remembering the lost souls.
On the morning of Bala Chaturdashi, devotees walk along the Slesmantak Forest near the Pashupatinath temple scattering various holy grains, fruits and coins recognized as Sat bij.
People believe that if they observe and perform the rituals for Bala Chaturdashi, then they will secure a place for their beloved ones in heaven.
It is also believed that the Slesmantak forest is the place where Lord Shiva dwelled as a dear and hence consider the place as sacred.
The legend says that a trader Bala Nanda visited the Arya Ghat to attend a funeral of his relative. Unfortunately, while Nada was eating the ceremonial food, a piece of the dead person’s flesh fell into his plate.
Unknowingly Nanda consumed the flesh and turned into a horrible demon with a silver head, becoming known as Balasur. He became a cannibal and started eating dead people’s flesh. People were terrified with this experience and decided to seek their king’s help.
The king then assigned Birsha Singh, Balasur’s good friend to kill the demon.
Singh was successful in killing the demon, however, we was filled with guilt and remorse. Following this episode, he went to the Slesmantak Forest for penance and prayed for the rescue of his friend. Pleased with his penance Lord Shiva granted salvation to Balasur and asked Singh to scatter sat bij or seven varieties of grain on the forest’s holy grounds to cleanse his sin and removing guilt.
Hence the tradition.