Janakpurdham, Aug. 31: As the sky over Janakpurdham dusks, the enchanting melodies of monsoon folk songs echo from local temples and shrines.
The songs, known as ‘Kajari’, richly describe the seasons, and emotions of separation, and tales of Radha-Krishna resonate in the temples.
On the occasion of Jhula festival celebrated in the Nepali month of Shrawan (July- August), it is customary to sing folk songs like Pawas, Malhar, Barhamasa and Jhula along with Kajari in the religious sites here.
During the Jhula festival, the deities are gently swayed on swings, symbolising unwavering faith and devotion.
The revered Janaki temple, along with other sacred sites in Janakpurdham, see devotees hanging images of Ram, Sita and Radhakrishna. They then sing these figures with a blend of folk and classical songs, honouring age-old traditions of collective merriment.
Ramroshan Das Vaishnav, the heir of the Janaki Temple’s chief priest, emphasises the profound significance of the Jhula festival in fostering devotion, happiness and community spirit.
He believes that the practice of displaying the Sita Ram statue in Janakpurdham for 15 days has bridged the spiritual leaders and laypeople, guiding them to a shared practical journey.
Amongst the 99 ‘Raas Leela’ (cosmic dance and pleasure) from the Ramayana era, Jhula festival holds a place of special reverence.
As evening descends, the melodious swing songs infuse the atmosphere, setting the tone for a harmonious gathering where everyone unites in devotional songs, dances and cultural rituals.
The festivities continue deep into the night, culminating in the distribution of sacred offerings.
Recent incidents of harassment and the growing busyness of people have diminished the allure of the Jhula festival.
Although peace and security have been restored, the number of women participating in Jhula festival is not high as before, said cultural expert Ram Bharos Kapadi . He further added that the tradition of inviting external expert singers for Jhula festival has also faded away.
The Jhula festival, an ecstatic celebration in honour of Goddess Sita, is observed just once a year.
Tourists from neighbouring Indian states and various parts of Nepal flock to Janakpurdham to witness this unique sight.
Historical records suggest that the Jhula festival started in 1730 BS by Surkishore Das, a saint from the Ramanandi clan originally from Jaipur.
He introduced the tradition of swinging the statue of Goddess Sita, representing a father-daughter bond.
Over the years, subsequent chief priests have maintained this bond, offering a unique perspective on the relationship between divinity and its worshippers.
After completing their farming tasks, locals dress in festive attire, indulge in traditional feasts, and engage in the rich tapestry of rituals and customs, marking a time of unity and reverence in Janakpurdham.-TRN