I usually get this question about where I am from? So, I felt like sharing some of the aspects of my hometown where I grew up. I was born in Janakpur Dham, Nepal. It might seem like an essay, but I will try to elaborate on Janakpur from my point of view Janakpur Dham, a capital of Mithila is supposed to be founded in 18th century which has so many historical, cultural, and religious importance in modern Nepal.
Whenever the cities of terai are defined, Janakpur always falls in the list and is considered one of the pilgrimages as per the Vedic Sanatan dharma. Like many others, it brings joy in saying that I was born and brought up in Mithila. I have my own connection and it helped me to dive into many aspects of life in different perspectives than societal mindset.
As for instance, some of the aspects prevalent in the society of mithila like having your own child or having a male child, which at times is overrated. But Janakpur has set up its roots in different way. If we read the ramcharitra manas or believe the story telling of generations, Sita, a prominent figure in Hindu mythology was not the blood daughter of king Janak or queen Sunayana rather she was daughter of Bhoomi (Earth).
And even more distinguished fact is that king Janak and queen Sunayana wanted to be known by the name of their daughter and let me emphasize it even louder that it happened in treta-yug that was thousands of years ago. But some of the facts got so much molded over the years that has been incorporated as taboos.
Sita seems to be synonymous with Janakpur and is always emphasized when Janakpur is introduced on any platform. I am glad at least she is considered as Nepali , as anyone from Terai must be very prominent to be Nepali, be its Sita, Gautam Buddha in ancient era or someone in present context. I do want to reiterate; all these figures are Maithili or Awadhi speaking….
Oops! SURPRISE!!! And as if so-called Nepalis not addressing people from terai as Nepalis will make any difference, that is a joke of the century!!! I can say this because I have been asked this question repeatedly, “Are you from Nepal?” and believe me when I say, “yes I am and are you?”, that break their self-acclaimed territorial reputation. There has been little reform that people can breathe within that sick mindset, but huge amount of work is still required. And the cherry on the top is, king Janak is considered as a first Rastriya bibhooti of Nepal that also makes Mithila a starting culture of Nepal……just saying .
Apart from Sita, another distinguished fact about Janakpur is that this city is surrounded by four shiva-linga of Jaleshwornath, Kuweshwornath, Kapileshwornath and Chhireshwornath believed to be built by king Janak to protect the city from four sides. Two other very important landmarks are the mani-dip and DhanushaDham where the dhanush of Lord Shiva was broken by Rama to marry Sita in outskirts of Janakpur. Also, Janakpur is famous for its 52 ponds and 52 mathas that adds beauty to the city. Like in many cities, pollution is a problem in Janakpur too and some good initiations have been already started to take care of the pollution.
Similarly, one very important aspect of Janakpur is Mithila arts. Mithila art is the painting done on the walls of the house or floor with organic colors from turmeric, vermillion, rice, or flowers. Usually, the figures in Mithila arts have prominent nose and ears that is the signature.
In ancient period, this was the way of doing interior of the house that were usually made up of clay. Now Mithila art has been improvised with addition of so many colors and doing some cool amalgamation between new artists and generational experts in the field. In present era attire, interior and cookware all have been getting influenced with Mithila art. Hence, Mithila art has been transformed as a growing industry with their goods even getting transported abroad and providing job opportunities to many.
One intangible important aspect of Mithila is culture. Mithila culture is very peculiar and amazing at its core. Every day on the calendar has its special dish that is consumed as per the Mithila culture. Some of my personal favorites are taruwa (vegetables fritters), bagiya (steamed rice cakes with fillings of jagghery or pulses), and lassi (smoothie made up of yoghurt). Also, there is a year-round celebrations of jur-shital (where elders put water on your head with lots of blessings) to madushramni (newlyweds celebrate it for the long lasting marriage), Vivah Panchami (marriage of Rama & Sita) to Ram Navami (birthday of Rama), Sama-Chakhewa to Bharduitiya (celebrating the relationship between brothers and sisters) and Chhath (celebrating Sun) to Sita-Jayanti (birthday of Sita), Eid ul-Fitr to name few along with the major festivals.
There are so many unique attributes that glorifies the persona of Janakpur and lots of people elaborate the properties of Janakpur to identify themselves. People from this area have shown their intellect in the different sectors of Nepal from health to politics, education to science. So as most of the people from Nepal already knows the cultural, traditional, and religious aspects of Janakpur, its high time that we people do good work to add to the long honor of the city.