Festivals of Bihar

Apart from the festivals like Chatth Puja, the most famous festival of Bihar celebrated twice in a year, Diwali, Holi, Dussehra, Eid, Navaratri etc; there are festivals which have special mentions to Bihar.

Bihula -Bisahari
Bihula or Bisahari
festival,
is a popular festival of Bihar, especially in Anga region(Bhagalpur)  celebrates the worship of "Mansa deity". Bihula is worshipped like a goddess on Nag Panchami day, the fifth day of Shravan month. The festival is associated with  story of Bihula, who was widowed on the night of her wedding by snake-bite through the machinations of Manasa, the Snake-Goddess (who was inimical to Bihula's father-in-law, the merchant Chandradhara). The innocent but firm Bihula decided to be remain with his dead body on a raft in the river Ganga. Finding no other alternative, Yama gave permission to Bihula. She started her voyage on a raft along with her Lakhinder's dead body.Finally, Bihula went to heaven by dint of her chastity and got her husband back to life.

Sama Chakewa
 This is a festival specially celebrated in Mithila, dedicated to the brother- sister relationship .The celebration of this usual festival of Mithila commences with the flight of birds from the Himalayas that migrate towards the plains. This festival is also connected with a play commemorating the story of Krishna's sister 'Sama'. Sama-Chakeba (1972) is a play based on the folklore of Shyama and Chakeva, by Rajeshwar Jha; it focusses on the loving tie of brother and sister. As a lyrical drama, it has the ambiance of Mithila. Girls make clay idols of various birds and decorate them with their own traditional way.Various rituals are performed and the festival ends with 'bidai', with a wish that these birds return in next year.

Madhushravini

Madhushravani festival is very sweet .The Madhusravani is celebrated in the rainy month of the Savan.The newly -married brides hear Madhushravani Katha from the elderly ladies for 15 days.There is the famous cycle of Vrata kathas in Mithila called Madhushravani vratakatha. This Vratakatha is told in fifteen cantos and is completely recited in about fifteen days.The stories narrated during the Madhusravani includes Satik Katha; Pativrata Sunaynak Katha; Bala-Basantak Katha etc. and perhaps the best story related to Madhushravani is Brihaspati- Ka Shesha, a story based on the superstition that the latter part of Thursday is inauspicious for undertaking any good work.
In Mithila, during this festival, charming songs of Madhushravani is resounded among the mango groves and in the courtyards of the villages. The air is filled with the intoxicating fragrance of the finery of new brides — red, pink, and yellow saris drying and flapping in.

Jiutiya
 Jivitputrika vrats, also called the Jiutiya (a contraction or jiwit-putra), is one of many popular family vratas. . Women perform these vrats for the wellbeing and protection of certain areas of the family life; there is no male involvement. The Jivitputrika vrat are performed by the mother where she wishes for the wellbeing and a long life of her sons.  Hindu women pass this ritual on to younger female generations- in most cases their daughters. If the mother does not have any daughters she will pass it onto her younger sisters. Jivitputrika, is popular among women because Hindu women play a central role in the household; they are responsible for the protection of their children and husband.

Jiutiya- Pains of a mother for her son.

Jiutiya vrat is known as the most difficult one to perform. It is also the most important because it determines the life of a Hindu women’s son.The most popular story is about a “noble king, Jimutavahan and his self sacrifice to Garuda, the half- man , half-vulture king of the birds, for the sake of Nag ( snake) and his mother”
The Jivitputrika vrat demonstrated the limitless love and affection of a mother for her son.
The Jivitputrika vrat takes place on the eighth of the waning fortnight of the month of Asvin (September and October). On the day of the vrat a Hindu mother will wake up early, complete her chores, and then purify herself in a tirtha (pool). She must be 
fully purified to be able to continue with the vrat or it will not work. Once she has bathed she proceeds to make a sankalpa (statement of intent before starting the vrat) for the wellbeing and protection for her son. She enters into a fast, where she cannot have food or water for a day. On the eve of the first

 day, fasting mothers sing Jivtiya (song to the deties) and tell or listen to kirtan (song expressing glory to deities). It is unclear what deity that each mother praises because it changes with each request they make for their son and the diety that they worship at their home puja (worship, shrine). In the late night they tell a meritorious (story of deserving praise, reward, esteem) and again perform a kirtan.

On the second day of the ritual they will bathe and give a dan-daksina (payment given to Brahmans for ritual service) to a Brahman woman, whose husband is still living and blessed with sons. The women continue to fast and go home singing, carrying baskets on their head or hands. The baskets contain the food from the offerings and are chopped and offered as prasada those not keeping the vrat. She will continue fasting until the next day when she will rises before dawn, bathes and eats. 

Newan or Newani.

When the crops are cut, some of the new grain is taken home and eaten with certain ceremonies. This feast is known as Newan or Newani. When the grain is collected on the threshing-floor, a cake of cow dung is placed on the top of the heap to avert the evil eye . South of the Ganges, worship is also done to the village deity.

Godhan
Godhan is a woman's rite in which they make cow-dung figures of scorpions, snakes etc. and beat them. To the south of the Ganges, in Bhadon (August-September), the women fast for twenty-four hours and make cowdung figures of Ganesh and lay brambles (jhar jhur) in the court-yard, saying the words-
अपना करम भैया का धरम - झार झुर  घुसियावे,  an incantation which literally translated means, ' I cause my own fate and my brother's virtue to enter the bramble.' This incantation is supposed to benefit the speaker and her brother in some mysterious way. 
  Deb -Uthan
The ceremony of the first cutting of the sugar-cane takes place, on the festival of the deb uthan or deothan. This takes place on the 11th of the bright half of Katik {i.e., early in November), and is said to be the day on which Vishnu wakes from his four months' sleep. On this day, the villagers tie a few canes together by the leaves, and place a neck-ring (Hansuli) on the top. They then . pour perfumes over it, take the neck-ring away, and commence cutting. When the crushing of cane is begun a ceremony is performed, called Pethar or Pethawan.
On the first day of crushing cane, the villagers take some juice home to cook with rice. This dish is called rasjaur. The ceremony at the first boiling of the juice and worship of a god, who is a deity protecting wells. 
Chiragais

The Mausoleum of Mucdoom Shah Dowlut,Artist and engraver: Daniell, Thomas 
Date: 1796

Chiragais is a festival held in honour of the Muslim saint Makhdum Shah
. It takes place on various dates in different places, e.g. in Patna City it takes place in the month of Bakrid (about December), and at other places in Barah wafat (about March). Makhdumana is a rite performed in his honour. The Muslim saint Makdham Shah Daulat had died in 1608 and was interred at Maner, a village west of Patna, near the junction of the rivers Son and Ganges. His mausoleum, built in 1616 by Ibrahim Khan, one of his disciples, is a fine example of funerary architecture during the reign of the Mughal emperor Jahangir and has columns with projecting lotus brackets, and small domed pavilions or chhatris at the corners of the roof.

Dawat Puja

The dawat puja is held by men of the Kayasth communities on the 12th of the light half of Katik {i.e., the day but one after the diwali). On this day they worship their inkstands and will not touch pen and ink.


Karma or Jawa 
The  Karma or jawa festival is celebrated on the eleventh day of the lunar month of Bhado (August- September), at the climax of the monsoon when the paddy is standing in the fields.The Karma festival is one which observed by the tribals as well as the non-tribals of Bihar. On the Karma festival, three branches of the Karam tree are cut by young bachelors and brought into the village. These  karam branches are downed in the tank or stream. The cucumber which was offered to Karam Raja is eaten by the girl's parents and brothers.  On this occasion almost all the maidens observe fasting. In the noon they are accompanied by the youths of respective clans .The youths spend the whole night in singing and dancing. The song sung on this occasion narrate the legends of Karma and Dharma. On the morning following the Karam festival, the maidens take up the seeds with shoots sprouting out of them. The entire Karam festival ends after the communal bath. 
Nag Panchami
 On the 5th of the light half of Sawan (early in August) occurs Nag panchami. On this festival, the women mark their houses with lines of cow dung, and worship seshnag (the Serpent of Eternity) with milk and parched grain (lawa) . On the gobar panche, which falls on the 5th of the dark half of the same month (late in July), the same god is often worshiped in Patna division. 

Satuani
 On the day between the 15th of Chait and the 15th of Baisakh (about the 15th of April) when the sun enters the sign of the Ram , it is customary to feed Brahmans with sattu (ground parched barley), tikorha (immature mangoes), and water, and to give alms. This feast is called the satuain or satuani. In South Bihar this festival is held on the last day of Chait, i.e., the last day of the Bengali year.

  Joor Sital
On the second day of chait,there is a festival, called the Joor Sital. The people bathe in water drawn the previous night and eat food cooked at that time, after worshiping Sitla Debi, the goddess of small-pox. Then from morning till noon all classes, rich and poor, cover themselves with mud, and shower it on all whom they meet. No one is free from this mud bath.
 
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