Diwali Traditions: Kansari Puja
Annually, before Diwali, the Dangi people hold a puja dedicated to Kansari Devi. Kansari Devi is the tribal goddess of agriculture, food, and prosperity. Since the Dangi people are chiefly farmers, Kansari Devi is considered to be the protector of the village.
The puja is conducted on the Kansara Gadh, where the Kansara is located. The Kansara, a stone or cave in the hill that acts as Kansari Devi's shrine, and is worshipped by the villagers during the puja.
The Puja marks the start of Dangi celebrations of Diwali and occurs annually two days before the festival. In the puja, a bandanwaar, a decorative ornament (toran) made of grass, is tied to the Kansara Gadh. After this, offerings of grains, food, and money, known as Siddari, are made to Kansari Devi before she is worshipped through hymns and folklore. The puja is performed by the Bhagat while some villagers observe the proceedings. The Dangi people also play the tribal instruments of Devkathi and Pawari during the puja to wake up the gods and the mountains.
It is believed that Kansari Devi will protect the village, bringing money, peace, and cattle to the village, and giving children to the childless.
After the puja, the villagers all gather each bringing grain and crop from their houses to be utilized in a collective feast. It is considered a tradition that all of the food that is gathered should be eaten in the feast, even when the spices and ingredients are disproportionate. Before the feast, a hen is sacrificed and eaten in honor of Kansari Devi. Once the feast ends, the Dangi people return to their houses to celebrate Diwali.
The local Bhagat explains the significance of Kansari Puja