Nepal | January 18, 2021

Tharu community observes Jitiya festivities amid COVID-19 pandemic

THT Online
Share Now:

KATHMANDU: Jitiya, one of the major festivals celebrated by married women of Tharu community, commenced with the observance of the Naha Kha ritual on Wednesday, in Mithila region. Naha Kha means to take food after taking the ritualistic bath.

Apart from the Tharus, women from other communities living in harmony with the Tharu community also celebrate the festival with fervour. Devotees and revellers are observing ‘Upaas’ or ‘Upabas’ on the second day of the festival today.

This year, the Jitiya festivities have been low-key as people are observing the festival at their homes due to the restrictions imposed by the authorities to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The government has restricted gatherings in open spaces for any purposes including religious places to curb the spread of novel coronavirus in the country.

File – Women offering prayers on the occasion of Jitiya Festival in Birgunj, on Wednesday, September 13, 2017. Photo: Ram Sarraf

Generally, Jitiya festival falls on the seventh, eighth and ninth day of the waning moon (Krishna Pakshya) in the month of Ashwin, tentatively nine or 10 days before Ghatasthapana (Ashwin Shukla Pratipada).

Usually, women are invited to their parents’ homes to observe the fasting ritual. Those who do not have brothers or sisters invite their cousins. The festival is celebrated by children and adults with fervour at their maternal homes.

Married women who do not get to visit their parental home also celebrate this festival at home. There is a tradition that the women are brought to their parental home a day or two before the festival begins. The celebrating women take food items including squab meat, mutton, chicken and fish that they prepare in advance.

On the first day of the festival, women observing the fast partake of special food comprising beaten rice, curd and ‘amot’ (raisin of dried mango juice), after making offerings to the deity Jitamahan and the ancestors. The offering to the deity and ancestors is made from mustard cake, molasses and mustard oil. The fasting is observed from 4:00 am on the day following ‘Naha Kha’ until 8:00 am the next day.

Women observing the fast take holy dips in local rivers and ponds in the morning. The devotees and juniors listen to the story of ‘Jitamahan’ as narrated by senior members of the community. The oil offered to the deity is given to the offspring who then apply it on their heads and bodies.

There is a practice of family members eating food comprising bread (roti) made from millet flour, curry made out of ‘nuni’ greens and fish, after performing the rituals on the first day of the festival. This special food goes by the name of ‘Machh Maruwa’ in the local dialect.

Moreover, the fasting women have to observe what is called the ‘Othgan’ ritual which requires them to apply some food on their lips early in the morning before the cawing of crows.

Women performing the Othgan ritual usually take curd and beaten rice. Subsequently, their fast begins which is very tough in itself. It is performed on Ashwin Krishna Ashtami, the eighth day of the waning moon in the month of Ashwin or Asoj as per the lunar calendar, according to Pundit Kalikant Jha.

Married people observe Jitiya fast wishing for the longevity of children, to be blessed with happiness and peace in the family. The festival carries religious, cultural and tantric importance, as per the believers.

Jitiya highlights the cultural role and importance of women in Tarai region. The festival that is observed in the Pitri Paksha (special period dedicated to the ancestors) also offers pinda (ball of cooked rice or barley flour) to the departed souls.

Jitiya fast is observed as a scared ritual. There remains a strict cultural belief that if a woman observing the fast burps, coughs or mistakenly bites the tongue, her fast is believed to have been unsuccessful and she is forbidden from observing this fast forever in her life.

A myth associated with this festival is that once there was a king called Shalivahan. One day, a demon took away seven sons of a woman and it was the king who brought back her sons from the captivity of the demon. Since then, the very woman in gratitude to the king started observing the festival, renaming the king as Jitamahan.

Compiled by Suresh Chaudhary


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

319 Nepalis living abroad have succumbed to Covid-19 thus far: NRNA

KATHMANDU: Two more Nepalis living abroad died from coronavirus infection in the past week. According to Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA), one person passed away in London while the other one died in South Africa. According to the Health Committee under NRNA, with the latest fatalities, Read More...

Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 93.86 million, death toll at 2,012,869

LONDON: More than 93.86 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 2,012,869​ have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December Read More...

In pics: A day in the lives of STIDH health-workers

KATHMANDU: Teku-based Sukraraaj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital (STIDH) which was established as centre for treating COVID-19 cases has been successfully providing quality care to the patients. Following the detection of the virus in country around ten months ago, the government had dec Read More...

PM has no right to dissolve House, SC told

KATHMANDU, JANUARY 17 Lawyers representing the petitioners that have challenged the dissolution of the House of Representatives today began pleading before the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher JB Rana. Advocate Bhimarjun Acharya said the prime m Read More...

EC consults parties regarding snap polls

KATHMANDU, JANUARY 17 The Election Commission today held consultation with 11 political parties on midterm polls announced for April 30 and May 10. EC Spokesperson Raj Kumar Shrestha said Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya informed representatives of political parties about its Read More...

Valley schools reopening after 10 months

KATHMANDU, JANUARY 17 Schools across all local bodies inside Kathmandu valley have started reopening. They had been closed for at least 10 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 24, the government imposed a blanket lockdown in a bid to subdue the spread of coronavirus, which hit the Read More...

Double for Stones as Man City crush Palace to go second

MANCHESTER: Manchester City steamed into second place in the Premier League with defender John Stones scoring an unlikely double in a 4-0 demolition of visiting Crystal Palace on Sunday. Central defender Stones, closing in on 100 Premier League appearances for City, headed his first league g Read More...

Information Technology

Smart diplomacy: Needs tech-driven approach

A calling need for tech-savviness in state diplomacy with a tech-managed system has assumed diplomatic importance to promote techno-economic cooperation and trade promotion. Technical knowledge about economic and trade connections with both the developed and emerging countries would substantially he Read More...