Jitiya, A Ritual of Tharu Women

Rina Chaudhary (22)rinachaudary

Nepal is a country followed with variety of culture and multiple diversity among them Tharu is considered as the dominant ethnic groups in Nepal. They are indigenous inhabitants of Terai, the narrow strip of flat and fertile land that lies between the mountains close to the border with India. According to Arjun Gunaratne, Their physical features indicate a Tibeto-Burman ancestry; but because of the proximity of the Indian plane their language is similar to Bhojpuri and Hindi, (a type of Indian language). The Tharus have unique rituals, festivals, and music, while their clothes and ornaments are similar to some ethnic groups of India. Tharues celebrate their own rituals and festivals. Each rituals and festivals have caries Tharu identities.

Jitiya is one of the most important ritual that is celebrated for three days. It is especially celebrated by Tharu women in Chitwan and Nawalparasi Districts of Nepal. Jitiya is a symbol of jit (victory). Jitiya falls on the month of Ashwin (September – October). It is celebrated for three days on Saptami (the seventh day of dark fortnight), Astami (the eighth day of dark fortnight) and Nawomi (the ninth day of dark fortnight). They takeBarta (fasting) for the good omen for their family and children. They do not only pray for their children and family but also they pray for collective well fare. During the period, women worship to god Bishnu, Shiva and Sun. However, Jitbahan is the main deity ofjitiya. The main part of the ritual, women worship the nature. Women take Barta and do not eat anything for a whole day. Women celebrate Jitiya by singing songs and dancing.

The different ethnic groups of people are gathered to see songs and dance (jhamata). The celebration of Jitiya makes good relationship between each other, one ethnic group to another ethnic group and creates harmony in society. And it create social solidarity as well which helps to function the society properly.

The first day of the Jitiya is called Lahakhai. In this day women take bath in a river early in the morning and formally start their Barta. Before taking bath they put Khari (oil-seed-cake) on the leaf of plant and let it flow on the river. This Khari is flown for legendary figure Chilo (Eagle) and Shero (Fox) wishing them to take Barta (fasting) of Jitiya. On this day Tharu women scrub their house with cow dong to make their house pure. In this day, they eat only vegetable items. On the mid night they prepare Datkhat\dar (special food) and eat Datkhat\dar before cock crow. Before eating Datkhat they offer some food for legendary figure Chilo and Shero.

The second day of Jitiya is called Upas. Tharu women wake up early in the morning and gather and sing Badahaw (this song especially wishing for a good dawn). Badahaw; this song sing during the dawn so it is also called Bhinsaharuwa (song of dawn). This song sings by old and adult women as well as by girls. Then they go to the river and bathe as in the first day. In this day women do not eat anything even they do not drink water until they listen a sermon (Story about Jitiya) at night. After taking a bath they go to pluck some leaves of Bel (Wooden apple) for Pooja. During that time, they sing a song which is calledPhool Lorhoni (song sings before pluck leaf of Bel). This song especially sings for owner of garden to inform before they pluck the leaf of Bel. And second part of this song for Bel tree to make it pure. After this song women can pluck Bel’s leaf. Phool means flower andLorhoni means pluck the flower. The Leaves of Bel is used in Pooja instead of flower. After plucking the leaf of Bel they come back home. Then women get ready to sing and dance all over the day. They come together to sing songs and they perform a group dance which is called Jhamta (a kind of group dance). Tharu women sing Tharu folk song and performJhamta in a group. The songs they sing during the day carry some kind of Tharu ancient story and history. In the middle of the day they goes to Brahamathan (A big tree which is a form of god) to worship god Brahama.

Historically and culturally, Tharu people do not make any concrete temple for place to worship rather they worship the nature, most often trees and river. In Brahmathanwomen sing a song that is called Jatsari (Song especially for water god). This song is sung to make lord Bishnu happy. This song is especially about asking for god and goddess to relief, peace, and wealth as well as protection of village. When they come back fromBrahmathan, they go to cut a branch of Peepal and Pakadi to make an artificial tree to make a nest of eagle (Chilo) during the time of cermon. Chilo is the most honest and loyal, hardworking legendary figure. Some boys help to cut the branch of peepal and Pakadi. At the time of cutting branch of peepal, Tharu women sing a song that is called Darkatoni. This song is especially about asking god to give them the best daughter, son, father in law and mother in law in their marital life.

That branch of peepal and plant of paddy bring in center of the village to make Thaat ofChilo and Shero. The place of the Thaat is scrubbed by cow dung to make it pure and holly. After making it Tharu women go to a river to worship Jarahari (goddess of water). In this time they also sing a song which is about the goddess Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswati. After finishing this song they go their home. Tharu women bring their fruits and leaf of Bel in basket made from bamboo and put it around the artificial tree Thaat. They sit around it to listen the story of Jitiya which is told by a good narrator or head man of the village. Woman also tells the story of Jitiya if she is a good narrator. Mostly it is narrated by a man because most of the head of the society is man. The story takes about five hours. After listening the story they go home and eat some fruits then sleep.

The Third day or last day of Jitiya is called Paran. In this day Tharu women wake up early in the morning and go to the river to take bath. They bring soil and Bel’s leaf with them. Soil brings to make idol. Women bring Bel’s leaf to cover the idol which is made by soil because Bel’s leaf is sacred. At the time of bathing they make a pair of idol from soil. These idol stands for their children, one for son and another for daughter. They cover it from leaf of Bel. Tharu women believe that if they make good idol, they have good and beautiful child. After finishing it they offer milk to sun. Then they come back at their home and scrub their house with cow dung. Tharu women burn Guietha (fire wood made by cow’s dung) and put Dhup (wood of aloes) on the fire. They offer some fruits, milk and curd on the fire for the god before they eat. Then only they can eat food and drink water. After all this, Tharu women complete their Barta and whole day they sing and dance.

MA in Sociology 2012-14
Central Department of Sociology/Anthropology



One response

  1. It is very nice to explain about jitiya. very good job rina…… it is also celebrate in saptari,sirha,udaipur,morang,sunsari,janakpur,bara, parsa and sarlahi very especially but celebration of jitiya is quit different to every district. in saptary, hirha , udaipur, janakpur ,sunsari not only tharu women are celebrate but also many madehi and dalit women like sah, yadav,koiry, mandal,mushar, batar ,chamar, are celebrate jitiya very well.

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