Mithila's submerged in Sama-Chakeva celebrations

  • Bishnu K Jha, Hindustan Times, Darbhanga
  • |
  • Updated: Nov 22, 2012 12:27 IST

As the dusk falls, young women venture outside in groups singing Maithili folk songs.


They hold bamboo baskets carrying a pair of clay idols, representing birds-traditionally known as Sama and Chakeva in folklore and representing the start of nine-days of festivity celebrated in Mithilanchal, which is dedicated to the affectionate brother-sister relationship.

The celebrations also mark the arrival of colourful birds on the plains during winter from the Himalayas to roost.

Earlier, womenfolk in Mithila used to make clay idols of different birds and decorated them in traditional ways. Now-a-days, ready made clay idols of Sama-Chakeva are available in the market.

The tradition, however, appears to have been hit hard by the onslaught of modern lifestyles, proliferation of nuclear families and outward migration from the Mithila region for employment. 

"We used to listen to folk songs, which were sung in every nook and corner of the streets at dusk in our locality. As of now, it's not quite common," rued Rita Lal, a teacher of Manasthali Public School.

Sama-Chakeva is associated with the folk song tradition and represents the creations of poets and artisans working together to rejvunate the local spirit of family bonding and festivity. It was a part of the popular Mithila culture heartland and transcended all community barriers.

The festivity starts on the seventh day of the bright half of Kartik, which coincides with the month of November. The idols are submerged in ponds on Kartik Purnima day.

According to popular legend, the celebration of Sama-Chakeva originates from the tragic tale of Sama, the daughter of Krishna as described in Puranas. The story is that a wicked character hatched an evil design and made a false allegation that Sama had illicit connections with an ascetic. Krishna got furious and cursed her to become a bird. However, when Sama's brother got to know about the episode, he observed self penance. Sama was finally brought to human form following her brother's affection and sacrifice for her. The tradition is as strong a one as Rakhi , which too celebrates the brother-sister relationship.


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