Aswini Kumara Vrat-A Vrat for Twin Gods

Aswini Kumara Vrat-A Vrat for Twin Gods

A Bengali proverb goes, “Baro mase tero parvan (overnumerousness of religious festivities). There is a festival in the greater Chattogram, Bangladesh around the last day of the Bengali month of Ashwin and the first day of the month of Kartik, called ‘Jalvishuv Sankranti’. On the occasion of this parvan(festival), Sanatan devotees perform a vrat of Ashwini Kumaras (twin gods associated with medicine) . This vrat is known as ‘Ashwini Kumara Vrat’ in Hindu texts. It is also known as ‘Vrat Pujar Bhat (rice of vrat puja)’ or ‘Vrater Bhat (rice of vrat)’ in some regions of Bengal. Basically the housewife of a family performs this vrat to wish her children, husband and other family members long life, good life and well being.

Ashvins or Ashwini Kumaras

The Ashvins or Ashwini Kumaras, the gods mentioned in the Rigveda, are twin brothers who are physicians of the heaven. They are twins with head of horses but the rest of the body of human beings; Lord Brahma granted them the boon that they would be extremely handsome and would possess the knowledge of Ayurveda.The name of the first twin of Ashwini Kumaras is Nastaya and the other’s name is Dasra. They are sons of Suryadeva. They know lots about Ayurvedic medicine and relieve men of sickness. They have the responsibility of healing. They also come to the world with the first rays of sunlight every morning.

Birth Story of Ashwini Kumaras

According to Markandeya, the Manu of Vaivasvat Manavantar was known as Vaivasvat as he was the son of Vivasvan ( God Surya). Surya was married to Sangya/Sanjana (or Suvarna), the daughter of God Vishwakarma. Sangya had borne two sons (Vaivasvat and Yama) and a daughter (Yami) from Surya, but the radiance of Surya was too much for her (Sangya) to bear. So, she (Sangya) created Chhaya (a shadow identity of herself) and requested her (Chhaya)to act as if she was the real Sangya. She said to Chhaya that she (Sangya) would not reveal herself as long as her (Chhaya) identity remained unknown.

After this Sangya went back to her father’s residence and ultimately to Uttarkuru where she started doing penance in the guise of a mare. Surya on the other hand was not aware of Sangya’s activities. In due course of time, Chhaya gave birth to many children. Though she loved her own children, she never had the same attitude towards the three sons of Sangya(Vaivasvat, Yama and Yami). Seeing her discriminatory attitude, Yama tried to kick her with his leg. Then Chhaya became furious. She cursed Yama so that his leg might get severed from his body. Yama became very scared. He went to his father Surya accompanied by Vaivasvat and Yami.

Yama went to his father (Surya) and told about the misbehavior of Chhaya, his step mother. When Surya tried to curse Chhaya for cheating by keeping all the details secret, Chhaya confessed everything and told Surya all about Sangya’s homecoming.

Surya then went to Vishwakarma to find out the reason for his wife’s (Sangya) desertion. After that Surya learned about the position of Sangya in guise of mare. Then Surya reduced his brightness and assumed the form of a horse and met Sangya. As a result of this union, first the twin deities Ashwini Kumaras and later Revanta were born.

Contribution of Ashwani Kumaras

Ashwini Kumaras were well-versed in medicine and were awarded the title of ‘the gods of medicine’. They worked as assistants during head transplantation surgery of God Ganesha and Daksha.

Ashwini Kumara Vrat

After the birth of Ahwini Kumaras with human heads, their parents went to Lord Shiva hoping to restore their childrens’ healthy and beautiful body. Shiva sent Suryadeva and Sangya to Goddess Parvati to solve this problem. Going to Parvati, Suryadeva and Sangya narrated all the events and prayed for the transformation of their two children into humans. It is believed that Goddess Parvati gave a handful of rice to Sangya and suggested her (Sangya) to cook that rice on the night before the last day of the month of Ashwin, and worship Shiva with devotion, by eating that food on the first day of the month of Kartik. As per the goddess’s suggestion, Sangya did so and the two children became human. It is from that belief the devotees perform ‘Aswini Kumara Vrat’ following the suggestion of Goddess Parvati as she gave it to Sangya. In some places of Chattogram, Bangladesh this vrat is very popular. It is perfoemed during ‘Jalvishuv Sankranti’. There is a myth in the folk community of this region about ‘Vrater Bhat’ or ‘Aswini Kumara Vrat’- by eating the rice of vrat with intention, one’s wishes are fulfilled.

By Krishna Das

Leave a Reply