Shraavan Maas Special: Chudi Pooja

Colours of the Monsoon: Chudi Pooja

The month of Shraavan began yesterday following the New Moon on Saturday. This month, considered a very auspicious one for Hindus, marks the beginning of many important festivals, after the long hiatus of Adhik Maas and Ashad Maas.

One ritual unique to Gaud Saraswat Brahmin community is the Chudi Pooja ceremony that married women perform, every Friday and Sunday. A Chudi is nothing but a small floral bunch that looks like a miniature version of a bouquet. The month of Shraavan, heralds a new beginning after the torrential rains and the dull clouds of Ashad. Hence, Chudi pooja can be considered worship of Mother Nature herself as the basic elements of nature are worshiped.
Thali 1 with neatly arranged Chudis
Thali 2 with jasmine flowers and betel leaves folded with pieces of areca nut inside

Traditionally, the chudi is made at home, with home grown flowers and certain specific herbs like darba (durva) grass (dibrankar), etc. It is believed that Sita performed this pooja during vanvaas using wild flowers and herbs. However, with changing times and tight schedules, plus lack of home gardens, ready made chudis incorporating all these plus fancy flowers like button roses, are available. One has to order in advance though.

Tulsi area washed and set for the Pooja

What you need for the Pooja in one picture

Performing the Pooja:
The Tulsi pot (katte) is washed and painted red just before the beginning of the month. The pooja is performed after a head bath, before 12 Noon. A lamp is lit near the Tulsi plant. Next step is to make ready the kalash, for which Kumkum-Haldi-Sandalwood paste are applied on four spots on the kalash, water is poured into it, and a few grains of rice (akshat) are added into it. Next, water is poured to the Tulsi plant, little by little, five times. The last time, drink a little yourself.

Offering water to Tulsi plant

Kumkum-Haldi-Sandalwood paste are applied to the Tulsi plant, an agarbatti is lit, and the plant is adorned with a flower such as jasmine. One chudi placed on two betel leaves folded together with a areca nut piece inside (veedo) as a mark of respect, is offered to the Tulsi. Next, the naivedyam (any sweet item, can be as simple as a spoonful of sugar or jaggery, or fruits and coconut) is offered.

Chudi offered on folded betel leaves

With the rice grains in hand, circumambulate around the Tulsi five times, each time stopping to sprinkle the grains on the Tulsi plant, and towards the Sun (sprinkle it into the air). Finally, offer the Aarti to the Tulsi. One chudi is thrown onto the roof, as an offering towards the deceased. One chudi is placed on the well, and an Aarti is performed as a mark of Ganga Pooja. One chudi is offered to the coconut tree, considered as kalpavraksha, the giver of bounty and prosperity.

Performing the Aarti

Next, a dwara pooja is done at the doorstep before entering the house, by applying kumkum-haldi-sandalwood paste at the two corners on the decorated threshold, and placing a chudi each, followed by Aarti. After entering the house, a chudi placed on betel leaves is offered to God, and an Aarti is performed. The naivedyam is then distributed to the family.

One chudi placed on betel leaves is given to the mother/mother-in-law, and husband, who in turn will "bless" you (pati parmeshwar after all!), and hand back the chudi. The first time this pooja is performed after marriage, a community pooja is hosted at home, attended by all senior ladies of the family, and the new bride is blessed with a small token by everyone. Handing the chudi to senior ladies is done on betel leaves.

After completion of Pooja...

Though all this sounds very elaborate, it isn't so, and the entire process takes about 15-20 minutes, provided all the things needed are set ready in advance. This is a video I found on YouTube that describes the pooja quite well.

Do you know of such unique customs celebrated in honour of Nature elsewhere? Please share your thoughts.                                              


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