In Hindu society, there are many
rites of passage (samskara) that are performed throughout the year.
These rites of passage come in many forms, such as birth, leaving the birth
chamber, giving a child a name, first feeding of solid food, puberty, marriage,
and cremation. To accompany these rites are the vrats, an
ascetic ritual that involves women fasting for the welfare of their husbands
and children. As stated by Pearson “Varts [are] a rite…performed on a regular
basis to achieve a particular objective, following the respective rule that have been
transmitted from one generation to the next” (Pearson 45). The tradition
of vrats can be traced back to the Vedic period which makes
them over three thousand years old in nature. Most vrats are
performed by women in Hindu society because they are believed to enhance a
women’s power (sakti). This power can then be transferred to
her loved ones. This idea of women performing vrats is common
because they are a part of the domestic rituals, over which Hindu women have
control and power. Some vrats are performed for a woman’s
individual needs, so she can focus on herself and then be attentive to her
भारत के व्रत एवं त्योहार - India's Fasts and Festivals (Vrata Stories, Pilgrimage Sites, Ritual Traditions, Auspicious Symbols Etc.)
Many vrats tie in
with marriage ideals and are seen as part of dharma (righteousness); they
represent the fidelity to a husband and demonstrate their service until the day
he passes on. As stated by Rodrigues, “Vrats emanate from ancient Hindu ideas
of asceticism as intrinsic to spiritual attainment, meshes with the obligatory
duties of married women in the Pativrata ideal” (Rodrigues 61). It is believed
that if a Hindu woman performs a certain type of vrat that is
for their husband then they will be forever protected by the husband. Also when
the vrat is performed it shows to the husband her loyalty
which will allow the women to live in harmony with her family.
बारह महीनों के व्रत त्यौहार और कहानियाँ - Twelve Months Vrat Festivals and Stories
The different kinds of vrats have
various purposes; some are for good health, prosperity, for a son to be born,
for a loved one, and protection for the family. Pintchman in her study,
“Women’s Lives, Women’s Rituals in the Hindu Tradition,” states: “these rituals
are usually undertaken annually, on days sacred to the particular god (deity) whose
blessings are sought”. This day is of great importance when performing a vrats because
Hindu women believe that they will receive what they are asking for if they
perform the right ritual, to the right deity (god). There are men who
perform vratas but, it is not regarded as a norm; it is more
popular among Hindu women. Vartas are very organized into
castes and regions of India. There are many vrats that only
upper-class women perform or that are only performed in certain areas of India.
Despite these differences, they are similar in that they are performed in the
domestic realm and for the domestic realm (Pintchman 65).
गनेस चउथ (गणेश चौथ) - Ganesh Chauth (Bhojpuri Folklores of Teej Festival and Vrat Fasts)
Jivitputrika vrats also
called the Jiutiya (a contraction or jiwit-putra), is one of many
popular family vratas. It is often compared to other family vrats,
such as Halsathi and GanesCauth. Women perform these vrats for
the wellbeing and protection of certain areas of family life; there is no
male involvement. The Jivitputrika vrat is performed by the
mother where she wishes for the well-being and long life of her sons. The
actual English translation of the word Jivitputrika is “living son”. This
translation demonstrates a mothers’ wish for her son to live a long, prosperous
life. This vrat is known as the most difficult one to perform.
It is also the most important because it determines the life of a Hindu women’s
son. Jivitputrika can be the most effective vrat because it is
believed by Hindu mothers to work; it also changes a son’s life (Pearson 38).
Hindu women pass this ritual on to younger female generations- in most cases
their daughters. If the mother does not have any daughters she will pass it on to her younger sisters. This vrat has been done for
generations but has not been explored by scholars as to its procedure. There
have been many hypotheses, but the integral details remain unknown. A lot of
the details remain unknown because the ritual is only performed by women who
have sons or amongst others who practice Hinduism (Pearson 163).
जीवित् पुत्रिका व्रत-कथा: Jivit Putrika Vrata Katha
Jivitputrika is popular among women
because Hindu women play a central role in the household; they are responsible
for the protection of their children and husband. Hindu women are said to be
responsible for three goals: Artha (profit), Kama (pleasure), and Dharma
(religion or virtue). All three of these goals are incorporated into the domestic
realm over which Hindu women are responsible (Dhavamony 196). As Tripathi
states, “the Puranas (literature consisting of ancient myths) say that women
who observe this vrat never suffer on account of their sons” (188). If Hindu
women perform Jivitputrika, it is believed that they will be forever protected
by their sons. The role of the son once the husband has passed on is to protect
their mother, so if the mother protects her son while he is young then the
mother has returned the favor (Bhattacharyya 57).
बारह महीनों के व्रत एवं त्यौहार: Twelve Month fasts and festivals
The Jivitputrikavrat takes place on
the eighth of the waning fortnight of the month of Asvin (September and
October). On the day of the vrat a Hindu mother will wake up
early, complete her chores, and then purify herself in a tirtha (pool).
She must be fully purified to be able to continue with the vrat or
it will not work. Once she has bathed she proceeds to make a sankalpa (statement
of intent before starting the vrat) for the wellbeing and protection of her
son. She enters into a fast, where she cannot have food or water for a day. On
the eve of the first day, fasting mothers sing Jivtiya (song to the deities) and
tell or listen to kirtan (song expressing glory to deities).
It is unclear what deity each mother praises because it changes with each
request they make for their son and the deity that they worship at their home puja (worship,
shrine). At late night, they tell a meritorious (story of deserving
praise, reward, esteem) and again perform a kitana. On the second
day of the ritual, they will bathe and give a dan-daksina (a payment
given to Brahmans for ritual service) to a Brahman woman, whose husband is
still living and blessed with sons. There are offerings made to the puja (worship,
shrine). These can be items such as food, or material goods. Once the offerings
have been made the Brahmin women blesses the mother by giving her Jiutya (red
and yellow threads to wear on their necks). This Jiutya symbolizes that the
mother has performed the ritual and that she is protecting her son. The Jiutya
is worn for months after the ritual. In some cases the mother may never take it
off, symbolizing her gratitude to the deity that granted her request. The women
continue to fast and go home singing, carrying baskets on their heads or hands.
The baskets contain the food from the offerings and are chopped and offered as Prasada for those
not keeping the vrat. She will continue fasting until the next day
when she will rise before dawn, bathes, and eats. The Jivitputrika, vrat is
not always performed alone; there are times when women who have been blessed
with sons perform the ritual as a group. In these cases, the meritorious stories
are told by the older women and food offerings are performed by them (Pearson
जीवितपुत्रिकाव्रतकथा - Jeevit Putrika Vrata Katha (An Old and Rare Book)
The meritorious stories are very
important to the Jivitputrika vrat because it allows for
information to be passed from generation to generation. The most popular story
is about a “noble king, Jimutavahan, and his self-sacrifice to Garuda, the half-man, half-vulture king of the birds, for the sake of Nag ( snake) and his
mother”(Pearson 164). There are three reasons why this story is relevant to
Jivitputrika vrat. The first is that the happy ending occurs on
the eighth of the dark half of Asvin. The second is that King Jimutavahan
demonstrates a model of what Hindu women wish for their sons. The last reason is
that snakes are thought to be protectors of children, which portrays protection
in the Jivitputrika vrat. There are many versions of this
story but, in every version, there is an appearance of Siva (lord of the yogi,
ultimate reality) and Parvati (wife of Siva), who gives blessings to the sons
or ensures their safety.
The Jivitputrika vrat demonstrated
the limitless love and affection of a mother for her son. This vrat is
done differently in houses across India but the main message is consistent
across the country. The Jivitputrika vrat will be performed
for many generations and with each generation altering its performance to
better meet their needs and values.
M. (1988) Hindu religion and women’s rights. Religion and Society. 35,
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Pearson, Anne. (1996) Because
it gives me peace of mind: ritual fasts in the religious lives of Hindu women.
Albany: State University of New York Press.
T. (2007) Women’s lives, women’s rituals in the Hindu tradition.
England: Oxford Univ Press
Hillary. (2006) Hinduism, the e-book, the online introduction.
Journal of buddhist ethics Online Book Ltd.
R (1978) HinduonkeVrat, Parv aur Tyauhar. Allahabad:
LokbhartiPackasan. Depiction by Pearson, Anne (1996) Because it gives me peace of
mind: ritual fasts in the religious lives of hindu women. Albany: State
University of New York Press.
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