Gajan (festival) Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gajan_(festival)

Gajan devotees and spectators are assembled at the Panchananda mandir at village Narna, Howrah on 14 April 2014.

Gajan or Shivagajan is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is associated with such deities as Shiva, Neel and Dharmaraj. Gajan spans around a week, starting at the last week of Choitro continuing till the end of the Bengali year. It ends with Charak Puja. Participants of this festival is known as sannyasi or Bhokto. Persons of any gender can be a participant. The complete history of the festival is not known. The central theme of this festival is deriving satisfaction through non-sexual pain, devotion and sacrifice.[citation needed]

Body Pierced Gajan Sannyasi with Sword - Bainan - Howrah 2015-04-14 8044.JPG
A devotee of Gajan festival at Howrah
Also calledShivagajan
Observed byHindus and Tribal people of East India
Significancemarriage ceremony of Lord Shiva and Harakali
Celebrationsopen air drama
Beginslaat week of Choitro
Related toLord Shiva


The word gajan in Bengali comes from the word garjan or roar that sannyasis (hermits) emit during the festivities.[1] Alternatively, the word gajan is considered a combination of parts of two words - ga is from the word gram meaning village and jan is from the word janasadharan meaning folk. In this sense gajan is a festival of village folk.[2]


In Shiva’s gajan Shiva is married to Harakali on this day. The sannyasis form the barjatri (bridegroom’s party). In Dharma’s gajan Dharmathakur is married to Kamini-Kamakhya in Bankura Dist.or Mukti.[1] The most recent studies on the gajan festival are: 1) Nicholas, R. Rites of Spring. Gājan in Village Bengal. New Delhi: Chronicle Books, 2008; and 2) Ferrari, F.M. Guilty Males and Proud Females. Negotiating Genders in a Bengali Festival. Calcutta and London: Seagull, 2010.


Charak festival in Kolkata in 1849

Fairs are often associated with the celebration of gajan.


  1. ^ a b Mitra, Dr. Amalendu, Rarher Sanskriti O Dharmathakur, First published 1972, 2001 edition, pp. 165-169, Subarnarekha, 73 Mahatma Gandhi Road, Kolkata
  2. ^ Ghosh, Binoy, Paschim Banger Sanskriti, (in Bengali), part I, 1976 edition, p. 67, Prakash Bhaban

Further reading[edit]

  • Sur, B. (2017). "The Dutch East India Company through the Local Lens: Exploring the Dynamics of Indo-Dutch Relations in Seventeenth Century Bengal". Indian Historical Review. 44 (1): 62–91. doi:10.1177/0376983617712811. PMC 6187071. PMID 30369711 – via ResearchGate.
  • Satpati, Lakshminarayan (2021). "Gajan: A Cultural Heritage of the Marginalized People in Kulpi CD Block, West Bengal". Advances in Asian Human-Environmental Research: 193–204. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-49115-4_11. ISBN 978-3-030-49114-7. S2CID 226320030.
  • "Becoming Shiva: The Gajan Sanyasis celebrate the blue gods marriage to Harkali". Firstpost. Retrieved 2022-03-08.
  • "Extreme piercing: A festival of self-inflicted pain". BBC News. 2020-04-17. Retrieved 2022-03-08.