C – CHAITRA HERALDS A HEARTWARMING TRADITION

Pic courtesy: http://www.bedupako.com
Welcome to the third day of the #BlogchatterAtoZ challenge.

The hills of Uttarakhand state have many unique traditions and festivals.

So,today we will celebrate the  month of Chaitra with a joyous celebration called Bhitauli, a much awaited event by married women.

Come join me.

Chaitra is associated with the coming of spring and is considered to be a very auspicious month as it signifies the creation of the universe.

Holi, the festival of colors is celebrated  on  full moon day known as Purnima in the Falgun month (before Chaitra) of the Hindu calendar.

The first day of Chaitra is celebrated as New Year’s Day, known as Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra, Chaitrai Vishu or Puthandu in Tamil Nadu and Ugadi in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

This month brings the highly awaited ‘Bhitauli’ festival which is a heartwarming festival dedicated to married women.

‘Bhitauli’ means ‘to meet’.

Usually the brother of the married girl visits her with gifts,fruits and homemade sweets(made from a mixture of  flour,milk,ghee and sugar, kheer ). The gifts that she receives are full of her parents love and immense blessings.It makes her recall the carefree days that she used to spend in her parents’ house. The homemade sweets are shared by everyone in the village and enlivens the spirits of everyone in the village. Neighbors are invited for having a special pudding which is prepared in the evening.

This heartwarming festival is very special for married women as it reminds them of the nostalgic memories they had at their paternal home.

Pic courtesy: Amar Ujala (Kumaoni lady in traditional attire)
Bhitauli Festival of Kumaon, Uttarakhand

To understand the background of this festival and its significance we need to understand the lifestyle in Uttarakhand. The men in this state are mostly in the army or have migrated for work away from their villages. Due to this the economy here is usually called ‘Postcard economy or Money order economy’.

Pic courtesy: Dr.Manisha Sanguri Jalal

Women shoulder all the responsibility here. They are the backbone of the society . This festival comes at a time when their is some respite from the various farming activities in Chaitra.So, they are able to enjoy the visits from their family members. Life is itself hard for most of them due to unproductive terrain and no job opportunities.

In urban areas, families may send a money order or send online gifts to the daughter due to large distances but in rural areas ‘Bhitauli’ still remains an occasion for the married female to actually meet her family and receive their immense love and blessings.

Now due to modernization the gifts have also been replaced by modern gift items like a Smartphone!!

Numerous songs depict the love of a daughter towards her brother and family:-

Few lines from a song :-

“जेठ म्हैणा जेठ होली, रंगीलो बैसाख, रंगीलो बैसाख
लाड़ो म्हैणा, योछ चैतोलिया मास.
बैणा वे येछ गोरी रैणा मैणा ऋतु मयाल.”

Meaning:-

The month of Jeth is the longest and the month of Baisakh is colorful,but the month of Chaitra is different as it is the most loved and heartwarming.

(Basically the song shows the long wait of a daughter for her brother, the reason she likes this month the most.)

There are a few stories (with regional differences) around the festival have been transmitted from generation to generation:-

  1. भै भुको, मैं सिती : –  Once upon a time in a village lived a widowed woman. Her daughter was married in a far away village. Her brother was young so he could not go and meet her sister. As he grew older he got to know about her sister. Her mother started crying because she was never able to visit or invite her daughter for any festival. He decided to visit her sister even though he was 10-12 years old. Her mother was afraid to send her son because of the distance as well as the danger of various animals in the forest. Finally she relented.

Her mother made a lot of homemade food and sweet items for her daughter. Early next morning he left with instructions from her mother not to spend the night in her sister’s house as it is against the custom. He reached her house in the afternoon and found that she was sleeping. He decided not to wake her as he realized she must be tired after working in her field.

He put the bag of Bhitauli near her bedside and waited for her to wake up. It was getting late and she did not wake up. With a heavy heart he returned to his house.

When his sister woke up she saw the bag near her bedside which contained food items and a new saree. She realized that her brother had come and she came out of the house to look for him. But she could not find him.

She started wailing and when the village gathered they found her repeating , “भै भुको, मैं सिती”, “भै भुको, मैं सिती”, which means – my brother was hungry and I was sleeping.

2) Gauridhana and Kalianag

Kalianag was the King of Kaushya and got married to Gauridhana the daughter of Bhanu uday.The king loved his wife but did not let her go to her parental house. Many years passed. In the meantime her brother was born. When her brother grew older he got to know about his sister and decided to meet her. It was in the month of Chaitra that he arrived at his sister’s house with gifts(bhatauli).

There he met Bhaga, Kalianag’s sister who took  her to Gauridhana. Kalianag was not at home. It was a very emotional meeting.In a rush to return home before Kalianag returned he forgot to touch his sister’s feet and take her blessings.

This triggered negatives thoughts in the mind of Bhaga and she assumed that he was not her brother but her childhood lover. She shared her thoughts with her brother Kalianag on his return. Instigated he went in search of the brother and in the eventual confrontation both died. Gauridhana died due to the shock.

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Imagine the time when there were no proper roads and means of communication. Imagine the long wait by the daughter to meet her family. Financial and communication constraints prevented her from visiting their parents. Imagine the emotional turmoil in the daughter’s heart. Even today when we are well connected a visit to or from a parental relative is so delightful.

This therefore remains a highly emotional and much awaited festival in Uttarakhand.

Bhitauli Festival of Kumaon, Uttarakhand

Author’s Note:- Information and photographs have been widely sourced from various websites as well as my personal contacts. Please feel free to inform me of any misinformation or any violation.My email id pashmeenachowdhary@gmail.com

References for information and photographs credits :

# This is the third post for #BlogchatterA2Z challenge. My theme is Uttarakhand-The Abode of Gods .

# You may access my theme reveal here::::: https://pashmeenachowdhary.home.blog/2020/03/16/blogchatter-a-to-z-challenge-2020-theme-reveal/

# Do share your links for quick access…Would love to read…. See you around!!!!!

Published by Pashmeena Chowdhary

May you live in such a way,that others will say,"She is a woman,who though ordinary,somehow stands out and has a beautiful story to tell." 😊 (Daisaku Ikeda)

47 thoughts on “C – CHAITRA HERALDS A HEARTWARMING TRADITION

  1. Wow this is really interesting..I belongs to MP and near to my native place ( usually in villages) there is similar kind of celebration during this time of year. your post has made me nostalgic and I had recalled those memories of my early childhood. and hats off to you, for this in depth research and proper analysis for each post. indeed, great work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot Surbhi for reading it do deeply..In fact I have relatives in MP and there I noticed that a married daughter visiting her parents home at this time around is considered very auspicious..Girls are held in high regard..Thanks for each word of your comment.. 😍

      Like

  2. Very interesting read! Chaitra month is associated with Ugadi, Navratras, I knew but this festival Bhatauli is totally new for me. And the logic behind it and stories associated with it are so good to read. Once again loved the folk songs, esp bhai bhukko, main sitti…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The festival and the folk tales, I loved reading both. With enough explanation given by you, I could how the married women must have waited for this festival. The folk tales are very interesting and kept me involved until the end.
    The thing that I fell in love with the post is the “postcard economy”! I believe there must be a lot of real-life stories associated with the Post-card economy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, I loved the term Bhitauli. It has a nice meaning too. Lovely snaps, and the narrative was smooth. Am eager to know more from you Pashmeena. Waiting.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am from Uttaranchal and i have heard of the festival but never knew these details. Lovely post and I loved the pics. I had been wanting to read your posts since 2 days but finally managed today. Looking forward to more

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This seems like such a sweet tradition. The women will be eagerly looking forward to their brother’s visits year after year. Although I am curious as to what’ll happen to the women without brothers!

    Like

      1. Oh, were my posts difficult to find? I am refraining from leaving links in my comments. Because if I start to do that very often, WP will directly chuck my comments into the spam folder!

        Like

  7. What a beautiful festival. This is the beauty of India that we have many regions having different festivals. It was really wonderful reading about this. Loved the whole background story of this festival.

    Liked by 2 people

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