Sudurpaschim, Sept 17: The Dagaura Chaudhary community in the Tarai region of west Nepal is today celebrating the Atwari festival with fervour.
Taken as the festival strengthening mutual goodwill, unity and relations, this time-honoured festival is mainly observed by the Dagaura Chaudhary community in Dang, Banke, Bardiya, Kailali and Kanchanpur districts.
Sunday is known as 'Atwar' in this community dialect and hence the festival's name 'Atwari'. The festival is celebrated on the first Atwar or Sunday following the Shree Krishna Janmashtami festival in the month of Bhaudau as per the lunar calendar.
It is considered that the various cultural programmes as the community's folk dances and rituals commence after this festival. The individuals of this community who are primarily farmers remain busy in agriculture during the monsoon.
However, after the Atwari, most of the farming-related works are over and the community has some free time to take advantage of this the community rejoices in celebrating the cultural festivals and programmes in their respective settlements.
As part of the Atwari festival, there is a tradition of brothers observing fasting for the whole day wishing for long life for their sisters. They even do not take water. In the evening, those observing the fast participate in the puja rituals after cooking various delicacies at their houses.
Following the puja rituals, they partake the delicacies as auspicious food. The delicacies are mostly cooked using the grains of the indigenous 'andee' variety of paddy which is cultivated in these districts.
The community elders have started complaining that the seed of this variety of rice is almost on the verge of disappearance in recent years and the community is compelled to use the rice grains of other varieties for cooking delicacies for the festival.
The festival concludes after serving 'agrasan' to the daughters and sisters. Agrasan is the food item that is to be served separately to the daughters and sisters after the conclusion of the puja rituals.
The 'agrasan' is taken to the home of one's married sisters and daughters on the second day of the festival.
According to the community elders, this festival is commemorated in celebration of the bravery demonstrated by Bhim, one of the five brothers known as Pandavas in the legend of Mahabharat. Bhim demonstrates extraordinary feats while the Pandavas are sent into exile in the forest after losing in a gambling duel to the Kauravas. The Atwari festival celebrates Bhim's valour. Bhim is worshipped during this festival.
It is believed by the Dagaura Chaudhary community that the 'Badkimar' or the time for reading out the Mahabharat epic begins from the day of the Atwari festival.
The Sudurpaschim provincial government has given a public holiday today on the occasion of the Atwari festival. (RSS)