Paragraph on Indradvaj Festival (542 Words)

Here is your Paragraph on Indradvaj festival:

Though this festival has lost much of its essence, but in the Jhargram region of Midnapur district of West-Bengal, once this was the main festival of the kings of Jhargram that extended to the Manbhum district, (celebrated by the Panchakot Kings) and Birbhum districts.

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The purpose of this festival is described in details by John Irwin. To quote him:

In order to fulfill this regal duty and to endow himself with the auspicious sanction and potency needed for his terrestrial role, the earthly king was expected to re-enact ritually Indra’s primordial deed of slaying the demon and erecting the cosmic pillar…According to legend, Indra gave the pillar in the form of a portable pole of yashti to the first terrestrial king—king Vasu—with instructions that he and subsequent earthly kings were to worship it annually.

This rite was already beings practised in Rig vedic times; and it is yet another instance of the conservation of Indian ritual tradition that in some parts of India it is enacted by rulers up to the present day. Known as the Indra Festival or Indra Mahotsava, it is annually celebrated at the gates of the royal palace.

A pillar or pole is ceremoniously erected, then richly decorated and worshipped as a manifestation of the actual presence of god… The meaning of this rite becomes still clearer when we recognize that the Indra-pole is mythically synonymous not only with the pillar separating heaven and earth but also with the sacred standard or dhvaja which Indra carried into battle against the demons… In the period of the epic wars (first half of first millennium B.C.) such standards played an important part in inter-tribal warfare.

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They were believed to ensure divine protection to warrior-king, and many refer­ences show that the first aim in inter-tribal warfare was destruction of the enemy’s standard, because a king bereft of his standard no longer received divine protection ‘at the centre of universe’.

Indra, the tutelary god of Indo-Aryans, initially regarded as the chief of the gods, to whom many Rigveda hymns are addressed. Many gods like Indra and Agni, are called puru-rupavat, “having many forms”, all of equal importance. As said, Indramaha or Indramahotsava denotes the raising of Indra’s ‘standard’ (Indradvaja). This was an ancient ceremony conducted by the priests for the king and celebrated as a festival (utsava) in parts of India like Bengal and Orissa.

In Orissa, the “standard’ was a tree selected from the nearby forest. After being cut down and the branches removed, it was setup in the main square seven days before the full moon of the month of Asvina (September/October). The base was placed in a socle braced by four clamps and held by eight cords from the top of the standard, each cord being pegged in the earth at one of the eight points of the compass.

It was lavishly decorated with white banners, mirrors, bells, garlands, fruits, etc. and formed the focal point of the festivities, being regarded as the Indra himself for the period of the ceremony and addressed as Satakratu, Vajrapani, and other epithets. On the seventh or full moon day it was dismantled and takes to the river where the current carried it away.

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