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THE SOHRAI-THE CATTLE FESTIVAL

 

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Among the agriculture-centered festivals, Sohrai is the most important festival. Basically it is an observance of honour of the cattle, which assist in the cultivation operations and in this festival they are symbolically placed t the level of gods. It is observed, depending on geographical location from kartik to pous. In most of the places the date is the kartik amavashya, coinciding with the depawali celebrations all over the country. One week in advance the homes, particularly the cattle shed are redone. In the evening in the home after home songs are sung in honour of the cattle. A lamp is kept lighted for the whole night at the cattle shed.

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The following day in the morning, the entrance of the cattle shed and the pathways is also smeared and kept clean. Arpana welcome signs are made with the white water mixed with the rice powder to receive the cattle. By noon the cattle are brought home after bathing them at a nearby water source. The cattle enter the cattle shed stepping on the arpana drawing. The lady of the house welcomes them by sprinkling water on them with mango leaves and by symbolically washing their feet with ritual greetings. Frees grass is ready for them.

They make the animals empowered with colour full stamps prepared from flour mix. The caretaker of the cattle and the master of the house anoint the animal’s hones with oil and put vermilion marks on them. They make the animals empowered with colourful stamps prepared from flour mix. The cattle god represented by wooden peg made of mahua tree is offered the sacrifice of a black chicken.

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Then prayers………………..

Then the mixed gruel of rice and unsplit rued lentils prepared in honour of the cattle is ready to be observed to the cattle and the people of the house as well. In the evening before sunset the people dress up the   cattle and let them out of their shed with drums plying. There is a stamped like sense in the village streets. Soon after that the music stops and the cattle are brought back home. In the night there is dance in the village akala. The second day is the day of eating and drinking. People get to gather in the afternoon again at the akala, where a few well decorated bulls and oxen are tied on to a strong pole, and turn by turn they dance and make the cattle dance also with them to the music played at that time. The combined dance of the people and the cattle continues till the sunset. In the evening after meals young people get together at the dance ground again and their program continues till morning.

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