Monday, February 6, 2023

Chidi-dag on Akhand Jatra: A unique vanishing tradition of Jharkhand’s local communities

Jamshedpur: Chidi-dag or Chidi-daag (hot-marking) is a fast-vanishing local tradition of Jharkhand that is observed as a part of Akhand Jatra festival coinciding with Makar Sankranti every year.

It is fast receding in popularity and following and has also come under sharp criticism in the recent times. However, a large number of people of different communities still observe it.

A parent who brought her child for chidi dag
Tribal woman speaking about chidi dag tradition.

It is a tradition in which the purohit marks children’s belly area with hot copper pins in the hope that it would keep the children free from different stomach ailments for one year.

This is a centuries-old tradition and is still practiced by many tribal communities in the state of Jharkhand, which is known for its unique culture, legacy, traditions as well as ecology.

Akhand Jatra is the name given to this tradition. On the morning of Akhand Jatra, women from various towns and villages bring their children to the priest’s house.

The priest sits on the ground, warming a copper pin over a wood fire. The women then hand over their child to the priest, who asks them about their village, prays to their gods and goddesses, and then rubs a hot pin or slender rod around the navel of the child’s belly four times.

Purohit Chhotu Sardar
Purohit Chhotu Sardar.

The children frequently cry during the process, but the mothers are happy because they believe this tradition will protect their child from stomach-related diseases.

The elderly women and priests of the village adhere to this custom.

One may not agree with their belief or age-old tradition, yet they have complete belief in their tradition.

They believe that following this tradition will cure any stomach aches or complaints that may occur after eating various dishes during the Makar festival.

According to Purohit Chhotu Sardar, the tradition helps children avoid getting stomach-related diseases. He said that the ritual is observed only on a child that is at least 21-day-old. Even grown-ups are given chidi-dag.

Chidi-dag tradition is losing its appeal fast as not too many are eager to make their children go through the painful process. Many also do not believe that such treatment can help stomach ailment in any way.

ritual of chidi dag
The ritual of chidi dag.

However, there are still many who still believe that the tradition is still effective.

The number of children being brought for chidi dag has gone down fast. However, many women say that the tradition helps their children avoid stomach ailments. Moreover, they insist, there is no compulsion in the tradition and people bring their children at their own volition.

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