Kharchi Puja is celebrated in the northeastern state of Tripura during the month of Ashada, per the Hindu calendar. It is a very ancient tradition to worship Goddess Earth observed on the Shukla Paksha Ashtami day during the Ashada, which normally falls in late June or early July as per the Christian calendar.
Origin and History of Kharchi Puja
The Hindu tradition involves invoking the five natural elements, including Bhudevi and worshipping them as Gods. Kharchi is derived from Khya, which means mother Earth. It is also derived from the words ‘Khar’, which means sin and ‘Chi’, which means cleansing. It essentially means cleansing the sins of the people of the kingdom. This festival is for cleansing mother Earth and worshipping the Goddess Earth and thirteen other deities. The Kharchi Festival has tribal origins, dating back to almost 5000 years, from the era of ancient maharajas when it was only a Royal ritual. Now everyone, including the non-tribal population, celebrates and participates in the colourful festivities.
The Kharchi Festival is primarily to ritualistically cleanse mother Earth after her menstrual cycle and worship the Goddess. This is from the belief that the female cycle of mother earth, called Ama Pechi falls during this time, starting Shulka Paksha Ashtami, the 8th lunar day. It is a custom at this time to bathe the Goddess by taking out the deity from the temple in old Agartala to the Saidra river. The deity is taken back to the temple and reinstalled after the ritual. While Goddess Earth is the main deity, the sacred custom involves 14 Gods in the temple. The 14 Gods, known as Chaturdasha Devata, are all worshipped during Kharchi Puja, seven days when this festival is celebrated. The starting day is a public holiday in the state of Tripura.
Where is Kharchi Puja Celebrated, and How to reach Agartala?
The festival is celebrated in the temple where the deities of the 14 Gods are installed in the state capital Tripura, Agartala, in Puran Agartala. The Maharaja Krishna Manikya constructed the Chaturdashi Devata temple in 1761, and since then, festivities are organized on this magnificent temple premises.
The less explored northeastern states are a treat to the eye and extremely rich in ancient traditions, heritage, and culture. Reaching Agartala from nearby cities has many options due to the good road infrastructure in the region. Good comfortable bus connections are available from Guwahati, the capital of Assam, to Agartala for a fare of around Rs 1,100. The bus service from Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, to Agartala is also available. Rayan Travels and Sherowali Tours and Travels operate the buses. Tripura is also well connected by air from many major cities of India, and a few airlines operate at Agartala airport.
Various cultural programs are arranged during the week-long festivities. There is wide participation from within and outside the state, and people thoroughly enjoy folk songs, music, dance, plays, and other items.
Celebration Highlights of Kharchi Puja
The Kharchi Puja is performed by the royal priest known as Chantai. As per the centuries-old tradition, only the descendants of the Chentai family are allowed to perform the puja. A Chentai can be only a state inhabitant by birth, and no one else is allowed to touch the deities. The puja is performed 15 days after the Ama Pechi or Ambu Bachi. The Kharchi Puja Festival celebrations last seven days when the entire Tripura comes together in a great festive mood. During this period, all farming activities like ploughing and harvesting are stopped. As part of the festival week, a hugely popular fair is organized in which hundreds of stalls display handicraft products from local artisans for sale. A large stage is set up for performing various cultural programs from the tribals and non-tribals from all parts of the state. Tripura is famous for its bamboo crafts, hand-woven shawls, and textiles. Memorable souvenirs can be taken back while returning.
The 14 Gods or Chaturdasha Devathas worshipped in the temple are Lord Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswathi, Karthikeya, Ganesh, Bhumi, Ganga, Agni, Kama, Himavan, and Varuna. On the Kharchi Puja Festival day, all the 14 deities are taken back to the temple after bathing in the river, decorated with flowers, applied vermillion, and worshipped. Thousands of people throng the temple and participate in this popular ritual.
Every day Prasada is offered to the deities after a pooja for the entire duration of 7 days. Animal sacrifice also continues to prevail as part of the rituals. People pray for the well-being of their families and the community.
Celebrations of Kharchi Puja 2023 starts on the 26th of July 2023, and tourists eager to look out for new exciting locations and celebrations can mark their calendars.
India's less explored northeastern states are a treasure house of lovely ancient heritage, culture, and architectural attractions. They give a glimpse of the awesome cultural diversity of India and open up a whole new dimension of our rich ancient heritage. You can be a part of this by relying on redBus to plan a tour to Agartala. Let redBus take care of all your needs related to travel bookings, hotel bookings, and local commutes as you plan to participate in Kharchi Puja 2023 in Agartala. You can download the redBus app or visit the redBus website to book your bus tickets.