गठामु चह्रे । Gathamu chahare | Ghantakarna chaturdashi | is the official start of the aagamic ritual calendar. (The most famous आगम । aagama is the तल्जू माजू । Taleju, which temple served, for a long period of time, as the national aagama. We, the people who brought Taleju to Nepal Valley, worship in private aagama, of which there were many up until 50 years back.) The great bells and the damarus of the aagamas have been silent since पाश्चह्रे । Pasa chahare | Pisaca chaturdashi, the official end of the aagamic calendar. Today, they come to life, waking up the Great Goddesses and the Gods that are their consorts.
The chief guest of the puja today is श्री श्री घण्टाकर्ण महाभैरव । Sri Sri Ghantakarna Mahabhairava. He is क्षेत्रपाल । Kshetrapala, Lord Protector, guardian of the public space. He has been keeping watch as the Gods took the Summer off, and napped. Today’s puja is an offer of thanks to Sri Sri Ghantakarna for keeping us mortals safe and healthy under His watch.
Aagama pujas are held in private sanctuaries by select participants. The public corollary of the puja takes place in the open space of city streets. For the day, iconographic representations of Sri Sri Ghantakarna spring up in city crossroads–the crossroads being the symbol for public space | क्षेत्र. The general public offer their thanks to the Mahabhairaba even as they pray for Him to keep watch on them at all times.
In Nepal, the story of Sri Sri Ghantakarna of the crossroads has morphed into many interesting lores. A common theme in the stories is that Gahantakarana is the personification of misfortune. In removing His image from the crossroads at the end of the day–so the stories go–the public will be protected from misfortune during the coming year. The Great Protector worshipped in the aagama puja has seemingly and apparently been turned villain in the public space.
Practitioners of the aagama tradition have not corrected the public narrative. The aagama practice is premised on multiple strands of discourse. Hence, it is well within the character of the aagama tradition to indulge even the most bizarre interpretation of the Ghantakarna stories.
Fanciful as they are, the Ghantakarna stories are imbued with kernels of insights into the worldview of its story tellers. We will examine some of those insights in subsequent blog posts.