Jivitputrika is observed on Krishna Paksha Ashtami in the month of Ashwin, performed with austerity by the mothers for their children. The Jivitputrika Vrat is celebrated from the Saptami to the Navami of the Krishna Paksha of Ashwin month and reflects love and affection of mothers towards their children …
WORDS BY- AABHA TIWARI
Observed by the mothers for the wellbeing of their children, Jeevitputrika is a festival observed by mothers who fast ‘nirjala’ (without water) throughout day and night for the well-being and health of their children. This three-day-long festival is celebrated from the seventh to ninth lunar day of Krishna Paksha in Ashwin (falls on 21st September in 2019) month of Bikram Sambat. It is observed in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, also celebrated mainly in the Nepalese state of Mithila and Tharuhat part of Nepal’s province.
About the fast:
This three-day long fast is celebrated on the lunar day of Krishna Paksha of Ashwin month, the first day- the day before Jivitputrika is known as ‘Nahai-Khai’. It means, mothers who are observing fast are allowed to take food only after having their bath. On the day of Jivitputrika, a strict fast, called ‘Khur Jitiya’ is observed without water. On the third day (when the fast ends), it is completed with ‘Paaran’- taking the first food of the day. As per tradition, women observing this fast start from night after taking the tradition of ‘Sargi’. In this, the vegetable of Satupatiya has special significance.
When a ‘Sargi’ (a special dish consumed before the fast is observed), a token is extracted in the name of ancestors, holy cow or dog.
It is believed, that a ‘sargi’ must contain a sweet dish, as it is believed to bring good luck.
After the fast ends (‘Paaran’), in the north-eastern Bihar, a variety of food is prepared including a special festival delicacies such as Jhor Bhaat (curry and white rice), Noni ka Saag are prepared. In the Bhojpuri region of western Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh and Nepal, women end their fast with ‘Noni ka Saag’ (summer purslane), vegetable stew of zucchini and Maruwa ki roti (Roti made up of Raagi flour).
The myth and legend behind the Jeevitputrika Festival:
The folktale dates back to the ancient story, where once an eagle and a female fox were friends, living near the Narmada river.
Both the animals saw some women performing the rituals of the pooja and fasting process and they wished to do this fast by themselves. During the fast, fox found it difficult to lead on as he was overwhelmed with hunger and became unconscious and opted for cheating, whereas eagle completed the fast with dedication and devotion. With this, all the children born to the fox didn’t live long after birth and the eagle’s offspring were blessed with a long life.
King Jimutavahana was the wise king of Gadharva but he was not happy leading a king’s life. Hence, he gave up his power to his brothers and went to the jungle. One day, he found an old woman weeping and when he asked her the reason for her plight, she told him that she belongs to a family of snakes and had only one son. As an oath, a snake was offered to the King of birds – ‘Garuda’ (an eagle), every day as a feed and tomorrow, it was her son’s chance to become his food. Jimutavahana consoled her and promised to bring her son back to her, alive. Jimutvahana lay down on the bed of rocks and presented himself to the Garuda as feed. Garuda arrived and held Jimutvahana in his beak to feast on him but to his surprise, he felt that his prey was cold and unresponsive. He knew something was amiss. He then put Jimutvahana down who narrated the entire scene to ‘Pakshiraj Garuda’. As an ode to his bravery and benevolence, Garuda departed and promised not to take any more sacrifices from the snakes. Due to the bravery of Jimutvahana, the race of the snakes were saved and since then, the fasts for the children’s welfare and long life were observed.