Mithila culture is full of diversity in terms of tradition, rituals, and lifestyle. These traditions and rituals have made this culture a distinct one.
Shrawan is considered an auspicious month in Mithilanchal. It is here again and women in the Terai region have been celebrating the Madhushravani Festival festival since last week.
This ritual is for the newly married women who perform the Madhushravani Puja. Regarded as one of the major festivals in the southern plains it is celebrated in the month of Sawan (mid-July – mid-August) and lasts for around 15 days. This festival ends in Shravan Shukla Tritiya according to the lunar calendar.
“Mithila, as a whole observes a very vivacious and blissful moment during the entire festival period,” Meena Thakur, founding chairperson of the Maithil Women Council, said. “This festival is an integration of traditional dresses, rituals, and singing.”
During this festival, women worship Naga (Serpent) Gods, Gauri, Surya (the Sun) god, Chandrama (Moon), Navagrah (nine planets), and several Nags (serpents) such as Nag dampati, Bairasi along with hundred brothers, Chanai, Kusumawati, Pingla, Lili, Gosauni nag with seven sisters, and lastly Shasthi or sathi.
Starting a day before the Naag Panchami, the devotees refrain from consuming non-vegetarian foods, onions, garlic and salt throughout the festival time, Soni Jha, a local of Tilathi VDC-7 of Rajbiraj said.
Although this tradition is usually celebrated by newly wedded women belonging to Brahmin, Kayastha, and Baisya castes, women from other cultural groups have also started observing this tradition of late.
During the festival of Madhushravani, newly married girls stay at their parent’s homes where they consume delicious food, wear adorable dresses, and observe the rituals.
Another distinctive feature of this festival is that women have to read different holy stories every day. Legends and stories related to Madhushravani festival are recited on the first and last day of the festival. With stories, the devotees also recite hymns as a tradition.
On the last day, the husbands present for the third time a vermillion powder as a souvenir. Before that, the bride is presented on the first and fourth day of the marriage.
“None in any place in the world, do people celebrate such unique tradition.” Sadhana Jha, a women leader, shared. “With justifying traditional and religious values, this festival also portrays human values,” Jha said that celebrating this festival means preserving the cultural heritage and identity of the people.
Some women, however, have a gloomy take on this festival. On the last day, the women are made to play with fire on their thighs, which is called ‘Temi’ in the local language. “Such cruel tradition must be ended,” people said that human beings should not be pushed into enduring such cruel rituals in the name of tradition. “If we can transform some parts of the rituals in a pragmatic way, the festival could be even more meaningful for its followers”