Saurath where Match-making Takes Place Under Tree: Dr. Birbal Jha

Have you ever heard of Saurath Sabha or Sabhagachhi? This is a unique shrine for fixing marriages under the shade of trees. Eligible bachelors with their parents sit down with the guardians of marriageable brides, gathering at the place from different locations. Sabhagachhi spread over 22 acres of lush green land falling in the district of Madhubani is 175 km away from state capital Patna in north-east.   

The age-old congregation is identified with Mithila and its surrounding landscape for systematically maintaining a marriage tradition which has been playing a quintessential role in what can be described as Shrishti Nirman (Creation of Mankind).

Though the cases of divorces have become a normal practice in the Western societies and even in many parts of India, yet the institution of marriage in Mithila – the birthplace of Goddess Sita – continue to be as strong as in the olden days with negligible divorces even today.

 Match-making and adherence to the principles of successful married life are so meticulous and socially bound that there is hardly any scope for the proverb- marry in haste, repent at leisure- हड़बड़ी  ब्याहकनपटी सिंदूर. Hence, there does not exist any system of ex-husband or ex-wife what we find in the west with a prenuptial agreements. With traditional rituals to follow, love life in the region is very pure and strong. Conjugal rights are granted post wedlock.  In a nutshell, matrimony is sanctimonious in Mithila lifestyles.

The foundation behind such a strong, institution of marriage is owing to the ingrained ethical values, social ethos, family obligation and uncompromising attitude to adhere to high principles of a successful life and soul-matching.
What’s more, the system of marriage registry, colloquially called panjikar and genealogical records, panji in Maithili has been cautiously but scientifically maintained to avoid marriage between the same gotra (clan). However, Saurath Sabha does not permit intermarriage. An approval for wedlock is sought from the system. What the social marriage registrar issues a sidhant is a kind of marriage approval in itself.     

Bounded on the north by the Himalayas, the south by the river Ganga, the east by the river Mahananda, and west by the river Gandaki, Mithila was able to develop the system of marriage-negotiation congregation as back as 700 years ago. However, many marriage bureaus online and offline have come up in today’s Indian towns.

Moreover, the first svayambara, a self-chosen form of marriage took place at Saurath known as Sitasvayambara in treta era, one of the four epochs.  Noticeably, during the 60th Republic Day in 2009, the Bihar tableau had presented this unique and lively glimpse of Saurath Congregation.

Earlier, such match-making assemblies were held in 14 villages, namely Saurath, Khamgadi, Partapur, Sheohar, Govindpur, Fattepur, Sajhaul, Sukhasaina, Akhrarhi, Hemanagar, Balua, Barauli, Samaul, and Sahsaula in North Bihar. While Saurath maintains the tradition, all other villages have discontinued holding such a congregation. 

In 2017, this writer launched Paag Bachao Abhiyan (Save the Paag Campaign) under the banner of Mithilalok Foundation and appealed Maithils across the world to attend the Global Saurath Congregation beginning from June 25 concluded on July 3 at Saurath in the year.
The holy place having a temple is merely six kilometers from Madhubani district headquarters in Bihar. The congregation takes place every year in the month of Ashadha according to the Hindu calendar.
Earlier in that year, in a letter to Chief Minister of Bihar, Mithilalok Foundation requested to develop a Multi-purpose Community Hall at Saurath Sabha to hold intellectual activities and discourses besides organising the marriage ceremonies in the conventional ways.

Saurath has all potentialities to emerge as a centre of intellectual gatherings in the state of Bihar. It can connect Maithils from across the globe and take them to their roots.  It stands to reason that Saurath’s development will also curb the unabated migration of Maithils and they will return to their roots and enthusiastically, add and accelerate the region’s growth.

Mithilalok Foundation has also put in a strong demand to the concerned agency to accord Saurath Sabha as a national heritage for its unique tradition and cultural values. The legendary place of congregation fulfils all characteristics as per the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)'s definition as a heritage.

Dr Birbal Jha is a noted author, social entrepreneur and the Managing Director of Lingua Multiservices Pvt Ltd having a popular trademark ‘British Lingua’. He is credited as having created a revolution in English training In India with the slogan ‘English for all’. Moreover, he is regarded as the Youngest Living Legend of Mithila.   

Please play no political blame game on Delhi’s Health Emergency: Dr Birbal Jha

Instead of working on long term concrete plan to address the issues, the NCT, as well as the central government, is playing a blame game. Arvind Kejriwal-led Government is reported to be spending money on personal branding in the garb of advertisements, rather than corrective measures for alarming issues. A whopping amount of fifteen hundred crores have reportedly been spent on such eyewash of publicity and advertisements, siphoning off government’s exchequer.

Still worse, ministers are busy posing for photo-ops of handing out the masks which are termed ineffective by doctors at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMs), the most prestigious public healthcare institution of the country.

The people sweating day and night pay direct and indirect taxes to the government for their safety, security, public health and overall development of the nation. In returns, what they are getting is a gas chamber for mass suffocation which is likely to cause deaths.  

What the idea the gigantic think-tank of the government has come up to enforce is the ‘Odd-Even’ system is not even a band-aid solution to the life-threatening problem before all eyes. Again it is a mere publicity stunt on government’s part. What is the logic behind reducing the pollution by just restricting the select male-driven cars on the roads of Delhi?

Schools vans and cabs driven by irrespective of genders are free for movements. Public transports are under no lens. Two-wheelers are no issues. The vehicles driven by females are free from the odd-even check system. The vehicles boarded by VIPs and politicians can move freely as they do not come under the ambit of the supposedly visionary scheme. The individuals owning two vehicles with one odd and even numbers can drive and enjoy the rides any day and every day.

Even I do not have any problem with travelling as I commute to my workplace by metro, though I hardly find a chance to get a sitting berth in metro trains. The only personal grudge I have is that my shirt gets crumpled as the crowd crushes it only to gain a foothold on the surface of metro trains.

The larger issue is public health. On my personal account, even I have developed a breathing problem, chest pain and a feeling of burning eyes. I dread where to go from here. The economic policy of the central government has already shattered the lives of many including mine.   

The corrective measures for controlling pollution may include 1. All the Delhi inbound and outbound trains should have a two-minute stoppage on the outskirts of Delhi which will reduce traffic congestion and pollution as a good numbers private vehicles, taxies and the likes ferrying the passengers will have a lesser frequencies in the capital town. Saving public time, money and energy is earning a wealth for the nation. 

2. The current pollution emitting factories and establishments should be relocated elsewhere with appropriate compensation and certain provisions. Such industries cannot be allowed to run in Delhi and around in future.

3. The central government should enact a strict law against stubble burning and spreading smokes of whatsoever.

4. As a temporary relief and solution to the predicament, the governments should immediately press the services of sprinkling water all over Delhi-NCR.

5. There is a need for a special drive for plantation all around and fixing the accountability for pollution control and mangemnt.

Dr Birbal Jha is a noted author and social worker.

                                                                             ----Shasvat Gethe