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Jamai Shashthi

Honouring Tradition, Love, and Prosperity

Jamai Shashthi is a cherished occasion dedicated to honouring children and sons-in-law within the family. Celebrated in West Bengal, it falls on the sixth day of shukla paksha in the Hindu month of Jyeshtha, typically occurring in May or June.

On this auspicious day, mothers offer prayers for the longevity and well-being of their offspring. Married daughters bring their husbands home, where they are warmly received by their mothers-in-law with a baataa, a plate brimming with refreshing summer fruits and delightful sweets. This joyful reunion is followed by a sumptuous feast featuring an array of traditional delicacies.

During the occasion, mothers observe a fast and tenderly provide their children with the soothing breeze of a hand fan, praying for their prosperity. They engage in the recitation of brata katha (tales associated with fasting) before breaking their fast. While indulgent meals await others, mothers adhering to the Shashthi tradition partake only of phal and phalaar (fruits and grains other than rice) on this special day.

The roots of this tradition can be traced back to the Aranya Shashthi Brata Katha, a folk narrative prevalent in Bengal. According to this tale, mothers who devoutly fast and offer prayers to Shashthi, the folk goddess and protector of children, ensure a life filled with health and prosperity for their offspring. In line with this custom, mothers also began fasting for the well-being of their daughters' spouses, thus establishing the cherished tradition of Jamai Shasthi.

Overall, Jamai Shashthi is not just a tradition but a celebration of family ties, love, and blessings that resonate deeply within Bengali culture.

Paakhar Hawa

Mothers who observe the Jamai Shasthi fast partake in a ritual where they use a traditional hand fan, known as haath pankha, to gently fan their children, imparting blessings of good health and well-being. These hand fans are crafted from taal paata, or palm leaves, and are available in both plain and intricately decorated designs.

 Atop these hand fans, an array of offerings is carefully arranged, with variations depending on individual family customs. Typically, these offerings include ripe mangoes, aamer pallab (a circlet of mango leaves attached to the twig), 120 dubba (three-headed grass strands), karamchar daal (branches and leaves of the Bengal currant plant), and bananas. Each item is washed and adorned with shidur tika, or sindoor (vermilion powder), creating a delightful blend of sweet and earthy aromas. As the cooling breeze wafts over the children, it serves as a refreshing welcome on the sweltering summer day.

During the performance of this ritual, a silent recitation takes place, with the repetition of the phrase "shath shath shath shasthir shath" — "shath" symbolising the end of impurity and negativity, while invoking Shasthi's protective blessings for the children's well-being and health. Additionally, some mothers may tie a string dipped in turmeric around their children's wrists as a symbolic token of protection.

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