Jivitputrika Vrat or Jitiya is an observance which is mostly observed in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttap Pradesh.
It is an extremely important observance which is performed with great austerity by the mothers for their children. The mothers keep a fast without even a drop of water, or Nirjala for the wellbeing of her children.
The Jivitputrika Vrat is celebrated from the saptami to the navami of the Krishna paksha of the month of ashwin according to traditional Hindu calendar. As per the Gregorian calendar this is observed in the month of September. In 2019 this will be observed on the September 22nd, Sunday.
Legend of the Jivitputrika Vrat
Once there was a wise and intelligent Gandharva King called Jimutvahana. Jimutvahana however was not satisfied being just a king and wanted to spend his life more meaningfully. Thus he relegated all his kingly responsibilities to his brothers and went to serve his father in the deep jungles. One day while walking around in the forest, Jimutvahana came across an old woman crying bitterly. Jimutvahana asked her the cause for her sorrow. She said that she belonged to a snake family and had an only son, who was about to be offered to Garuda as a feed due to an oath. Jimutvahana sympathized with her and promised to protect and save him from his danger. Thus Jimutvahana went and lay down on the rock from where Garuda picked him up. However, Garuda gets shocked seeing Jimutvahana and asks what he wants. Jimutvahana describes and tell Garuda the whole story as to why he faked as the snake. Garuda was very pleased hearing this tale and promises never to take any sacrifice from the snakes again. Thus it was purely by virtue of Jimutvahana’s extreme bravery that the Nag Vansh or the snake kingdom was saved.
From this day the auspicious Jivitputrika Vrat is celebrated commemorating the mothers who sacrifice so much for their children. Since then a strong penance is observed by the mothers for the welfare of her children.
Rituals of the Jivitputrika Vrat
This is a difficult vrat as the vrat or the ritual has to be done nirjala that is without a drop of water. The first day of the Jivitputrika Vrat is known as the Nahai-Khai day. On this day women with children only eat after they have taken a bath. Literally Nahai means bath and khai means eating. So the last meal before the fasting is taken on this day. On this day homage is also paid to all the departed mother in laws of the house.
The second day is the Jivitputrika fasting. This day is known as Khur Jitiya. Jitiya is a red and an yellow thread, and is worn by the fasting mothers. The thread is only taken off when the thread becomes absolutely worn off.
The third day is for paaran or the breaking off the fast.