Over the years and generations, people have celebrated Asar 15 with special gusto. You have been celebrating too. But what is the importance of Asar 15? Why celebrate it?
Many farmers live in the rural Nepal where there is no proper irrigation system. Farmers sow the seeds and plant saplings for the harvest. And since centuries, when the first rainfall occurs, the farmers revel and get filled with hope of the harvest. Thus, all the farmers cheer and celebrate the successful plantation.
Rice is a popular cereal grain of Nepal. Ropain in Nepali means rice planting. Therefore, The “Ropain Festival” of Nepal is one of the country’s most important monsoon season festival that symbolizes the first planting of the crop (rice-plant). It is celebrated mostly by farmers of Nepal to mark the day they plant new seedlings of rice crop of the year in their paddies. It is known as Ashar 15 or the fifteenth of Ashar – the day when the crop planting season officially begins. The month of Ashar (June-July) grips a great significance for every Nepali as it is the time of the year when farmers plant new seedlings of rice crops in their paddies wishing to grow quintals of rice from kilos.
On the day, early in the morning, women and men assemble together to parade around their village before going to the fields. The farmers put on their traditional clothes to demonstrate the fanfare. For example, in villages on the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley, Newari women celebrate the festival wearing the traditional dress (Haku Patasi) and various traditional ornaments to mark the start of the festival. Both men and women visit the wet and muddy fields and relish the experience of rice plantation. Farmers are seen in the paddy field planting together with joy. Particular responsibilities are shared among men and women. Men plough the field, arranges drain water, levels the fields and make fine mud slurry for the plantation.
Women gather the seedlings and pass them to the fellows who are ready for plantation. Everyone join hands together. They celebrate the day organising various games like planting the allotted field, running in the muddy field, splashing with muddy water, singing typical folk songs (Asare Geets) which describe joys and pains of farming life. In the afternoon, the men’s group performs an enactment of the rice planting through dance and music, wearing women’s dresses. The festival reveals common goals and common joys of men and women for their farming life. It surpasses the great message of happiness, and reflection of weather.
What do you do in Asar 15?
’Ropai’ in Nepali means plantation. Farmers begin the plantation on this day and do it while singing and dancing. Farmers from all over Nepal get to their muddy wet fields with a new and positive enthusiasm. It is a time for rice plantation ceremony and celebrating, dancing, splashing muddy water along with the friends and relatives singing Ashare Jhyaure Geet (monsoon song) reciting the joys and sorrows of farmers. The festival is celebrated by the offering a feast of delicious local cuisines along with the Dahi-Chiura (beaten-rice with yogurt) and home-made brew.
Why eat dahi chiura in Asar 15?
Dahi chiura is the complimentary dish of this day for everyone. Dahi chiura carries a great nutritional value as it helps to regenerate tired and worn out farmers. And as farmers spend all day in dirt and mud, having dahi chiura increases one’s nutrition. It helps farmer against the germs that are found in the mud.