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Title :: Janakpur Darshan Tour

 

Janakpur is the capital of the ancient state of Mithila and the Janaki Temple, located in the center of the city, is well known in the Hindu Kingdom (Nepal). Sita (Janaki) the wife of the legendary hero Ram was born in Janakpur. Throughout the year, many pilgrims come to pay their respects to Ram and Sita who are the main religious attractions in Janakpur. The city is thronged by worshippers and visitors, especially during the festival of Bibah Panchami. This annual festival is celebrated on the occasion of Ram and Sita's marriage and their wedding ceremony is enacted throughout the week. During this period, the city is enlivened by the wedding festivities.
 
Ram and Sita are the two central characters of the great Hindu epic Ramayan. In the story, Ram strings a bow that originally belonged to Lord Shiva the destroyer and in the process, the bow breaks into three pieces. One piece flies up to heaven another falls down into the depths of the underworld, presently there is a huge pond called Dhanush Sagar above the spot. The third piece flies to present day Dhanushadham, about 40 kilometers from Janakpur. There, visitors will see huge rocks shaped liked a bow. Thus, after Ram's successful attempt to string the bow, Janaki's father, King Janak gives his daughter's hand in marriage to the brave prince of Ayodhya.
 
Mithila, The Cultural Region
 
Mithila is an ancient cultural region of South Nepal and North India lying between the lower ranges of the Himalayas and the Ganges River. The Nepal border cuts across the top fringe of this region. The Gandak and Kosi Rivers are rough western and eastern boundaries of Mithila.
 
The Ramayana records a dynastic marriage between Prince Rama of Ayodhya and Sita, the daughter of Raja Janak of Mithila. The town of Janakpur, in the northern Nepali section of Mithila, is believed to be Janak's old capital. And Sita is a Mithila girl.
 
The Castes of Mithila
 
The various hereditary, endogamous castes, called jati, are ranked on a scale of superior to inferior, marked by traditional rules of interaction and sanctions against certain kinds of interactions, especially intermarriage and interdining. The principal castes of Mithila are as follows:
 
Maithil Brahmans are the highest ranking caste and also, in political terms, the dominant caste. Because the Maharaja of Darbhanga was a Maithil Brahman, other Brahmans came to control much of the land; thousands of villages were in Brahman control, and they are still the largest landowners in Mithila. The other castes are described in rank order according to their traditional occupations as expressed by Brahman informants:
 
Bhumihars are small landlords who claim to be Brahmans but are considered lower because they have taken up agricultural pursuits and given up priestcraft. Maithil Brahmans serve as their priests for domestic rites.
 
Kayasthas are record-keepers for landowners and village surveyors and accountants.
 
Rajputs The 100,000 Rajputs in Mithila are not native to the area, but came during the Mughal era and became zamindars. This is why Brahmans count them as lower than Kayasthas, even though Kayasthas are technically a superior type of Shudra.The next few castes are the middle agricltural castes, "clean castes" in ritual terms, upwardly mobile in political and economic terms, now pushing against Brahman dominance and getting power in local and state government.
 
Yadavas are by far the largest caste in the region at one-eighth of the total population. They are herdsmen and cultivators and consider themselves kinsmen to the god Krishna, who was also a cowherd. The Chief Minister of Bihar, Laloo Prasad, is a Yadava.
 
Dhanuk is another large agricultural caste, though originally they were archers; they are considered a "clean" caste from whom Brahmans can take water, and therefore they often are employed as servants by Brahmans.
 
Koiri are considered industrious cultivators and among the best tenants in the area, but Brahmans will not take water from them, and therefore their status is lower than the Dhanuk.
 
Mallah are boatmen and fishermen, and thus are considered lower than the chief agricultural castes, although there is a slight anomaly here, for Brahmans will take water from them, but not from Koiri.
 
Dusadhs are among the most stigmatized of the large castes, but are also economically very important as agricultural laborers and are gaining real political power in North Bihar because they form a large voting bloc with increasingly powerful leaders. The British knew them as a "caste of thieves" and in some of the larger villages posted special police stations to keep a curfew over them at night.
 
Chamars carry away the carcasses of dead animals and make sandals, drums, soccer balls, and bicycle seats out of the leather. Musahars are negatively stereotyped by upper castes as "eaters of rats, snakes, and lizards," who are "expert at getting hidden crops from rat holes." Mali make garlands for temple worship, and have a special relationship to the smallpox goddess, Sitala.
 
Dom are basket-makers and assistants at cremation grounds. There are also many other important but smaller castes, such as:
 
Nai, barbers whose wives function as midwives; 
Dhobi, washermen; 
Kumhar, potters. 
All these castes perform essential services, practical and ritual, for the superior castes, especially the Maithil Brahmans.
 
Three Grades of Brahmans
 
The Maithil Brahmans are stratified in three levels. If you ask why, you will be told The Myth of the King’s Feast . It is impossible to verify the historical accuracy of this myth of origin, but the three categories are real enough, and they are spatially distributed in the Mithila region:
 
Jaibar, being the vast majority, are found everywhere throughout the region. 
Yogya are mostly consolidated in villages around Madhubani.
 
Srotriyas are mostly consolidated in 36 villages slightly northeast of Darbhanga.
 
The Myth of the King’s Feast
 
Once a great king decided to judge the worth of the Brahmans in his kingdom to determine who were the most superior Brahmans. He sent out an invitation to every one of them inviting them to his feast. There was great excitement. On the day of the feast, one large group of Brahmans got up early, took their baths, and headed directly to the palace, arriving in the morning. These Brahmans were the most unworthy of the Brahmans; they became the Jaibar Brahmans. A smaller group of Brahmans took their bath, chanted the Gayatri Mantra 108 times, and arrived in the afternoon. These better Brahmans became the Yogya Brahmans. There were thirteen superior Brahmans who refused to forego all their daily rites even for the king. They got up early as always, took their baths, chanted the Gayatri Mantra 108 times, and did not arrive at the palace until evening. These thirteen superior Brahmans became the Srotriyas. 

 

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