KANCHAPUR: The males of Tharu community in the southern plains of western belt in the country including Kanchanpur, Kailali, Banke, Bardiya, and Dang districts today observed the Atwari festival, wishing for wellbeing and longevity of sisters.
Today, they observed a rigorous fast even without taking water and in the evening, they worship the Hindu mythological character Bheem, and offer delicacies made of wheat flour and Anadi rice and fruits to the God Agni (fire). Some portion of delicacies is reserved for sisters which is called ‘Kaharni’ and the remains known as ‘Agrasan’ are eaten by those who observe the fast, said journalist Dhan Bahadur Chaudhary who represents the Tharu community.
The food is prepared in a group of three to four people in a special traditional chamber called ‘Bahari’ which is cleaned and daubed by cow dung. Special kind of firewood ‘Ganyari’ is used for cooking, said Tharu community leader Dansingh Dahit.
Only observers are allowed to visit the room used for preparing the Atwari delicacies.
The food kept for sisters is given to them the following day. In case of married sisters and not able to come to brother’s home on this occasion, brothers visit their (sisters’) homes with the Kaharni. They spend time together for cordial chats and express courtesy each other. In return, brothers get gifts from their sisters.
In the second day of the festival, the observers eat a Phulari, special kind of snack prepared by mixing rice and pulse flour, and other Tharu cuisine preferred for the moment.
The myths surrounding the origin of the culture of Atwari are different. One of the beliefs is it is observed in honor to Bheem, the second among the five Pandava brothers in Dwapar Yuga who had liberated a Tharu girl from a circle of exploitations she was facing.
Another belief is Bheem had assisted mythical king Dangisharan to be safe from his enemies and finally to overcome them.
A public holiday was given in the Far West State today on the occasion of the Atwari festival which is celebrated on the second day of Shuklapaksha (bright fortnight) in the month of Bhadra in the Lunar calendar.
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