JANAKPURDHAM: The folk festival Judsheetal is being celebrated in Mithilanchal today amidst gaiety and fervor. This festival is considered special agricultural culture.
This festival, related to nature and health, is marked as the New Year festival in Mithilanchal and as Siruwa festival by the Tharu community. Basically, the essence of both the festivals is, according to the scriptures, to ‘cool’ the people who are tormented by the heat of the sun. Since Mithilanchal region is mainly an agricultural region, most of the festivals celebrated here have the influence of the agriculture culture. Various agriculture produce are used in the Judsheetal festival as well. The two terms that make the word Judsheetal, ‘Jud’ and ‘Sheetal’, are related to human welfare and wellbeing. Jud means to bestow blessings while the term ‘Sheetal’ denotes ‘giving the feeling of coolness’.
One of the main rituals associated with this festival is that the elders take some water in the cusp of the palm, place it on the head of the junior members of the family and give blessings of ‘coolness’. On the day of the Judsheetal festival, the people of the Mithilanchal region observing the festival get up early in the morning and participate in the ‘giving blessings of coolness’ ritual. Another ritual associated with this festival is to wish for the coolness not only to humans but also the trees and vegetation. The main door to the house, the main pillar in the middle of the house and the hearth is also offered blessings as part of the rituals. Fire is not lit in the hearth on this day. In the same way, the cattle and all the household articles like the cupboard, metal chests, furniture, broomstick, traditional grindstone etc are also given ‘the coolness blessings’. The wells and water sources in the community are also cleaned and repaired on this occasion.
People also apply mud on their body in course of celebrating Judsheetal festival. There is also the tradition of eating the food that has been cooked in the previous year. So people cook food and special delicacies a day before the festival and partake it on the day of the festival. The special delicacies include taruwa, bari and curd. The clan deity is offered the rice that has been cooked the previous day, curd, delicacies and unripe mango fruits. These items are also offered to the kite, other birds and the fox. Wrestling and kite flying competitions are also held at many places as part of the side celebrations of the festival.
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