Birijat fair begins in Bajhang with fanfare


By Sailendra Rokaya, Bajhang, Aug. 10: Bajhang’s famous Birijat Fair, which is celebrated in the Surma Rural Municipality of the district, has started. But if you are thinking of making a trip here with your romantic partner then beware, because some stories warn that you may end up breaking up.

Admittedly, these may be more fiction than fact and could be a reflection of our society’s attitude towards love in the past. After all, similar beliefs are also held about visiting Silu (Gosaikunda) but couples still go there and we have not heard reports of relationship breach. Still, why risk it?

Instead, you may opt to attend the fair separately, held every year from the eleventh day of the bright lunar fortnight of the Nepali month of Shrawan (Ekadashi) to the day of Janai Purnima on the shores of the Surma Sarovar Lake, like hundreds of others who have begun arriving from Monday in anticipation of the religious celebration.

People celebrate the fair by gathering in large numbers and bathing in the water of the Sarovar which lies 5,000 metres above sea level. They play games, dance a special dance called Dhaka and sing songs called Dhuska as well. Shamans also perform various rituals on the occasion.

Birijat Fair is held to worship Surmadevi Bhagwati, a very important deity in Bajhang. People believe that visiting the lake and praying to Surmadevi with a pure heart will get their wishes fulfilled. “This belief brings thousands of people here,” local Paras Bohra said.

Another local Dinesh Bohra informed that devotees coming to Surma Sarovar were not allowed to use an umbrella, raincoat or coverings of any kind, no matter how heavily it rained. They are also not allowed to wear shoes.

People begin their journey to Surma Sarovar on the day of Ekadashi from the Surmadevi Temple in Selakhet, Jayaprithvi Municipality. On the day of Ekadashi, they travel to Ghogada, Doulichaur and spend the night there playing various games. The next day, everyone gets up early in the morning and walk to the lake. 

Dinesh said that those who cannot, bathe in the Sarovar on the Trayodashi day, arrive at the Surma Devi Temple the next day and conclude their pilgrimage on Janai Purnima. 

The residents of Surma Rural Municipality, Chhabispathivera Rural Municipality and the former Lekgaun Village Development Committee worship Surmadevi as their guardian goddess. 

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