Mahottari, Sept 20: Jitiya, a main festival celebrated by Nepali married women of Tharu community, has begun today in the Mithila region including with the celebration of Naha Kha (eat after a ritualistic bath).
The festival that falls on the eighth day of waning moon is observed for the longevity, happiness of family and blessing of sons.
On the first day, women are ready to observe fasting after conducting a puja and offering prasad to god (Jitamahan) and pitri (ancestors) on leaves of ghiraula plant (a type of vegetable). They also eat roti (a delicacy made from flour), salty vegetable, cooked fish, curd and beaten rice.
Fasting begins on the second day and concludes the next day. They alongside young and older men also hear stories of god, Jitamahan on the festival. Before fasting, they take a holy dip into rivers and offer molasses and mustard oil on ghiraula leaves to gods.
Later, children of fasting women should be massaged with the offered mustard oil for their prosperity. Pinda (a ball of cooked rice and barley flour) is offered to the departed souls of the ancestors on the festival which is also observed in the Pitri Paksha (special period dedicated to the ancestors).
According to a myth associated with the festival, once there was a king called Shalivahan. One day, a demon took seven sons of a woman and it was the king who brought her sons back to her from the captivity of the demon.
Since then, the very woman started observing the festival in gratitude to the king renaming the king as Jitamahan.