From Bibhu Man Rajbhandari:
Shree Swasthani Brata Katha is an amazing way to hear and read the Swasthani stories on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. This app consists of the whole text from the sacred book along with a mellow voice reading out the stories. You can scroll through the chapters as the month long reading festival progresses. Swasthani Brata Katha is an app designed for all Nepalese around the world who miss and wish to reminisce in the age old stories that we listened to growing up. Shree Swasthani Brata Katha is the new way to pass our culture and traditions on to the tech generation.Shree Swasthani Brata Katha is a very popular ritual observed in Nepal in the Poush month (January February) during winter. Goddess Shree Swasthani, known to grant wishes of her devotees, is worshipped for the whole month of Poush. The Swasthani Brata Katha (story) is recited everyday. The month long telling of the tales are dedicated to the Goddess and the stories that are mainly narrated are those of Swasthani Devi, Lord Shiva and other Gods.Goddess Shree Swasthani is usually portrayed as a four-handed deity with Charka, Trishul, Sword and Lotus in each hand - sitting at the center while Asta Matrika or eight deities of power Mahakali, Baishanavi, Brahmi, Maheswari, Kaumeshwari, Barahi, Indrayani and Chamunda painted around her.It is believed that Goddess Swasthani helped Goddess Sati overcome her troubles after she burned herself at Daksha Yaga after hearing her husband, Lord Shiva, being insulted. As per this legend Goddess Swasthani helped Sati overcome the troubles and then to reincarnate as Parvati and win over Lord Shiva as her husband again.During Swasthani Katha, Hindu married women observe Brata or fasting for the wellbeing of their husbands and unmarried women observe the Brata in order to get a good husband. Women wear red colored clothes and bangles during the one-month period as it is believed that red is a sign of good luck. The Brata is observed for one month.The month long rituals associated with Swasthani Katha takes place on the bank of rivers. In Kathmandu the festival takes place at Salinadi, a river associated with the Swasthani Brata Katha, situated in Sankhu.During the holy period, in the morning or evening the Goddess is worshipped by family members, amid chanting of holy hymns from the book Shree Swasthani Brata Katha which narrates the divine leelas of Swasthani Devi. After the chanting of mantras stories are read by an elderly family member.The stories mainly revolves around the theme how some devotees due to ignorance take the side of Adharma and are later rescued by the Goddess. A major highlight in the stories is the prominence of Swasthani Devi over other gods in the Hindu Pantheon.In the first few chapters of the 31-chapter book, episodes are related to Satidevis (Lord Shivas wife) sufferings and her bearing them with courage and, eventually, Shree Swasthani rescuing her from her troubles and agonies, are explained.During the Brata period, after an early morning shower, the Pooja of Shree Swasthani begins. In the evening chanting of Brata Katha or stories is a must. The routine shouldnt break. It should go on uninterrupted for one month from the date of commencement. At the completion of chanting hymns, flowers and fruits are to be distributed among all those listening to the Brata Katha.On the concluding day of the Puja, the holy symbol of Om is painted on a copper plate. A Shivalinga made of mud is also erected on it. Later, the Puja of the Shivalinga takes place and this concludes the Shree Swasthani Barta Katha.