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Rahre

A Dogra festival almost forgotten

Rahre

Deepak Pathania

The land of Dogras is known for many of its unique festivals and rituals. Many a time these festivals are celebrated to strengthen the social bonds and the relationship between man and nature. Rahre is one of such festival. It is a month long festival which commences with the beginning of Ashad month of Hindi calendar.

All the major rituals of this festival are performed by girls especially the unmarried ones. On the first day, round tops of broken earthen pitchers are placed in the soil and seeds of different crops are sown in them. These are known as Rahres. Girls dedicate one rahra each to their  brothers. One  rahra  known as kachi khui is dedicated to mother. It is a simple pit in which seeds are grown. This pit is not bound by any top of the pot which reaffirms that mother’s love knows no boundaries.
Then there is another rahra dedicated to the father which is called Gham rahra. It is the largest rahra and symbolizes that the father carries most of the responsibilities of the house.
This festival is important for agriculture also, as the seeds are tested for their viability while growing them in rahras. These rahras and the surrounding areas are beautifully painted using natural colours. In the evening a sweet thick chapatti known as Rut is made along with other Duggar delicacies such as kyur, maalpude, chiroliyaan, suchian, babbro, purhe  etc. All the girls sit together and share their food. They also sing songs associated with this festival. This get together is known as nikka (small) Rut and is repeated every seventh day of this month. The biggest and final celebration known as badda Rut, is on the next sakarant which is the sankarant of Shravan month. Newly wedded girls are sent to their parent’s house for the whole month by their in-laws. These girls also get gifts and sweets from their mothers-in-law  known as bhaaji which they share with their sisters and friends. Special ear rings known as scholarhe are shared and worn on this day. So this festival is also known as scholarhe da tyohar.
Finally, all the rahras are taken out and carried to a river for immersion. There, sitting by the river side whole of the village share their food and enjoy to the fullest. Songs are sung by the girls. Most of these songs depict pain of separation which married girls experience after leaving their birthplace. One of such songs is
Udd marhi kunjariye
arhiye saun aaya
Kinja udda ni marhiye
desh praya hai
Thus, this festival strengthens the brotherhood among people and nurtures their bonding to nature. Let us celebrate “Rut Rahre” this Sunday and acquaint our younger generation with this glorious festival.

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