Culturally grand, the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand celebrates many special festivals, which are famous in the region, to name a few, ‘Bhitauli’ which means to meet. This auspicious festival is dedicated to married women who wait for Chaitra (the first month of the Hindu calendar) to celebrate. Newly married women get their first Bhitauli in the month of Baisakh after which it is given each year in the month of Chaitra. During this festival, parents visit their married daughters and get delicious homemade sweets. This heartwarming festival is very special for married women because it reminds them of memories in their ancestral home.
The women of Uttarakhand are the backbone of society and their contribution to fighting social issues is extraordinary. She does everything without caring what she is doing, from taking care of the family, working in the fields, to bringing fodder for the animals. Despite fulfilling all their responsibilities and being a strong pillar for their family, the hill women do not get much time to spend with their spouse, as the men turn to cities in search of a good job and earn a handsome salary for the livelihood of the family. Apart from facing all the problems alone, the married women of the hill region acknowledge their sorrows and bid them farewell to their parents. With the onset of Indian summer when the nature blossoms with new flowers, the females of this hilly zones respite and remember their parents’ love. During this season, married women are spared out of fieldwork and eagerly await ‘Bhitauli’ from their parents. This soulful time of Bhitauli is being expressed by the singers in the form of folk song, “न बासा घुघुती चैत की, याद ऐ जांछी मिकें मैत की”. When the family of married women visits Bhitauli with them, everyone around gets in a festive and cheer up the mood. The women distribute sweets received from Bhitauli to their neighbors and invite them to have a special pudding that is prepared in the evening.
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By celebrating such festivals, Kumaon has not only preserved its culture and traditions but has also united the families of many married women, who have left their ancestral home with tearful eyes. In this way, the festival is not only limited to one family, but it reflects unity among the people of the mountainous regions. Although the net and cell phones have bridged the distances, yet the feelings of a married woman are always related to her loving family which no cell phone or call can convey. And this is the reason why the Bhitauli festival is so popular among the people of Uttarakhand. Brothers in the urban areas send money orders to their sisters in the name of Bhitauli, but in rural areas, Bhitauli is an occasion for married women to meet their families and receive their blessings and love.