Shagun basically means good luck. It is given in different occasions most prominent in Newari culture to symbolize a healthy time. It is a normal practice in various religious and cultural rituals like during travels, weddings, birthdays, achievements etc.
A balance between five elements, earth, fire, wind, water and sky or space is regarded integral for human safety and prosperity. Shagun is given to make sure there is balance between these elements, which is integral for the happiness and safety. Items symbolizing these elements in different ways, namely, egg, fish, alcohol, water and fire are all present as a part of this ritual, creating the balance.
Lord Ganesh, regarded as the protector deity who removes obstructions from people’s lives is the central character of the ritual. Family and friends gather and present all items regarded important for good luck. There is Lord Ganesh, followed by a Mandala made with rice and colors, curd, duck’s egg, fish and alcohol.
Experts of the culture believe that it has expanded over the years resembling something more than good luck and has grown bigger into a festive occasion as a result of prosperity. It is a practice involving many family members and relatives, eating and celebrating together.
Shagun intrigues some and is a way of life for others. As an idea or a feeling, it is a practice that is a part of a very old and respected culture and still involves the humble idea of praying for an individual’s safety and prosperity. There is added splendor to the ritual but the idea remains and that is why it still holds its place in the culture.