Almost all Bengalee HIndus are closely associated with Satyanarayan Puja. It is difficult to find out a Bengalee Hindu household where Satyanarayan Puja has not been held at least for once. It is a worship of the Hindu god Vishnu. Satyanarayan is a combination of two words – Satya (truth) and Narayan (the highest being). Therefore, Satyanarayan means the highest being who is an embodiment of truth. Members of Hindu community observe this puja for divine blessings of health, wealth, prosperity, opulence, education; relief from troubles and sickness, for success in business or career; during social functions like marriages, house-warming ceremonies, naming of children and so on. Satyanarayan Puja is very popular in BangladeshandIndia. Satyanarayan is also known as Satyapir in some places of BangladeshandWest Bengal. According to Satyanarayan's Panchali (long narrative poem in praise of a deity) and Bratakatha (a religious vow, religious observance, or obligation), Satyanarayan introduced his worship in the guise of a Pir (the title of a Sufi spiritual guide). According to researchers, the concept of Satyanarayan and Satyapir in Bengal is the result of a harmonious combination of Hindu and Muslim.
According to legend, in the 15th century AD, King Ganesh's daughter worshipped Satyanarayan or Satyapir. In the middle ages, people of both Hindu and Muslim communities worshipped Satyapir with begging instruments, sang Satyapir's panchali and shared prasadi shinni (sweet dish prepared by boiling rice in milk with sugar). Afterwards, when the Hindu-Muslim joint religious practice was abolished, the Muslims started offering shinni at the shrine of the Pir and the Hindus started worshipping Satyanarayan.
Not only wealth, Stayanarayan blesses in other ways also. Many Hindus believe in the existence of 33 crore deities though it is difficult to mention 33 names. Each deity has a different role, e.g. Goddess Kali is worshiped as goddess of power, Saraswati for knowledge. Similarly, Hindus usually perform Narayanpuja before any good deed at home, viz. ahead of entering into a new house blessings of Satyanarayan is believed to be required. People believe that Satyanarayan's blessing remove all obstacles, but only thinking of worship is not sufficient. Selecting the time, date, tithi (lunar day) according to movement of the stars and following the rules and regulations are very much important,otherwise the result may turn reverse. Some procedures are to be followed for SatyanarayanPuja.
1. The place (temple or household) of worship should be completely clean. In fact, this is the initial condition of any puja. The place may be decorated with alpana(handmade artwork on floor or wall with liquid white colour made of grinded rice or any other colour).
2. The idol of Vishnu is to be held with right hand while bathing. Never use the left hand.
3. Do not walk around the place of worship with dusty or dirty feet.
4. Do not borrow flowers, coconuts and other items used in the puja from anyone else.
6. It is better to fast in the morning on the day of SatyanarayanPuja. After puja eat prasad(sacred food offered to deities).
7. Do not use yarn to burn the lamp, use cotton only.
8. Mix ghee with incense before using.
9. Use only ghee for prasad, not dalda or oil.
10. It is better not to wear blue clothes.
11. Place two betel leaves and a nut, coin and banana on it at each side of Narayan's idol.
12. If Satyanarayan is worshipped at home donot forget to offer flowers to Goddess Laxmi.
13. Clean clothes and wash your hands well before making cinnabar.
14. Basil leaves can be used but donot place it on the idol of Laxmi even by mistake.
SatyanarayanPuja is nothing so expensive nor pompous. It is very easy to arrange. This puja can be performed on any day, but scripturally full moon day is the best time. During this puja Satyanarayan's Panchali and Bratakatha are read out by a Brahmin, but in absence of Brahmin anybody else can do it. Many people worship Satyanarayan every big full moon to keep home environment clean.
There are Narayan (not Satyanarayan) temples in different places of India. In Bangladesh there were Satyanarayan temples in Kushtia, Chuadanga, Alamdanga and Khulna, but the only temple in Khulna bazar is still continuing its century-old originality. This temple was established in 1910 under the supervision of Golap Chand Mundra, a Marwari businessman. There is a common misconception that all non-Bengalee Hindu businessmen are Marwaris. In fact, those who are from Marwar (region of desert) district in Rajsthan, India are known as Marwaris. Some of them like Golap Chand Mundra came to Khulna in the second half of 19th century. Till then Khulna (transformed into district in 1882) was a sub-division under Jessore district. Number of Satyanarayan temples are very few. Only three temples in Kolkata (Satyanarayan Park, Boro Bazar), Yangoon and Khulna worship the same bigroho (idol) of Satyanarayan. 4th generation descendants of Golap Chand Mundra are now actively conducting the activities of the Satyanarayan temple in Khulna.
The writer is a former Commissioner of Taxes