lashunotsava or gandha-maha

Hindu tradition mentions the following tale regarding the discovery and the use of garlic. The brAhmaNa sushruta’s curiosity was aroused by a foul-smelling bulb and he made enquiries regarding it to the renowned medical expert divodAsa, the king of kAshI. divodAsa told him that it was lashuna and described its medicinal properties and therapeutic and dietary uses to him. The resulting discourse became the prototype of the lashuna-kalpa of the magico-medical tradition of the Hindus. Since the smR^itis have proscribed the use of lashuna by the dvija a predicament arises here. Two apparent solutions are suggested by tradition. One of these is to make the garlic “pass through the cow”. The other is its consumption in a special periodic festival known as the lashunotsava or the gandha-maha. This festival is recorded in the lashuna-kalpa preserved in both the kAshyapa tantra and the Bower manuscripts. On the day of the lashunotsava even dvija-s could eat garlic untainted by the pAtaka. The festival is laid out by rudra in a discourse to bhadrakAlI. When rudra was roaming in the devadAru forest the wives of the vipra-s were afflicted with infertility. They called on him to relieve them of the condition. It was then that he instituted the garlic festival to cure the wives.

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