Jitiya Festival In Nepal: How Do People Celebrate Jitiya In Nepal?

Jitiya Festival in Nepal

Jitiya is an important festival of Nepali married women of Mithilanchal and Tharu women of all castes. This festival is named after Masabashi’s son Jimutavahana, a blessed son of the Sun. Masabashi was an unmarried princess who spent her life as a hermit living in a hermitage. Jitiya falls in the month of Ashwin (September–October). It is celebrated for three days on Saptami (the seventh day) Ashtami (the eighth day) and Navami (the ninth day). The fasting day, Astami, is called Jitiya. The married women take brata (fast) for the good fortune of their children, husband and family. In this festival, brothers invite their married sisters to their homes, and the married women go to their maiti (maternal home).

On the First day of Jitiya, women take a bath in a river or a pond early in the morning and formally start their brata. Before taking a bath, they put khari (oil-seed-cake), special soil, on a leaf of sponge gourd and worship Jimutavahana, and let it À now on the river. They take the remaining oil back home and massage their children with it. This khari is effused for legendary figures Chilo (eagle) and Shero (fox) wishing them to take brata (fasting) of Jitiya. The married women remember their female ancestors too. On this day, women scrub their house with cow’s dung to make their house sacred. At midnight, they prepare ong than or dastkhat (special food), and eat it before the cockcrow. They also eat fish and millet bread. They have curd, beaten rice and fruits as dark. Before eating datkhat, they offer some food to the legendary figures Chilo and Shero.

The second day of Jitiya is called Upas. On this day, the married women fast the whole day. They go to the river, pond and well and make an idol of Jimutavahana made of kush (the holy grass), and worship the idol. The devotees get together and the ones who know about Jimutavahana, narrate his story. They neither drink a drop of water nor do they have some fruits during Ashtami. During fasting hours, they sing and dance too. Their song is called Darkatoni. Everyone, married or unmarried, can participate in singing and dancing.

The third or last day of Jitiya is called Parwan. The women wake up early in the morning and go to the river to take a bath. Then they return home and perform puja. After puja, they offer some fruits, milk and curd to Jimutavahana, a legendary deity, before they eat. Then only they take food and drink water.

Afterwards the women complete their brata then they sing and dance the whole day. Why do the women remember Jimutavahana, the eagle and jackal during this festival? There is a popular story behind this. Jimutavahana had saved the life of a baby eagle. By fasting the eagle ensured her offspring had a long life, whereas the jackal’s offspring had a short life because the Jackal did not fast. While celebrating Jitiya, women devotees make idols of the jackal and eagle with sand or cow dung, and red crimson is applied on their forehead. As the main part of the ritual, women worship nature. The celebration of Jitiya strengthens good relationships between different ethnic groups and creates harmony in a society. It creates social solidarity and helps the society function.