Significance of Jitiya Vrat or Nirjala Vrat

The festival of Jitiya Vrat, which is also known as Jivitputrika Vrat , is a Nirjala Vrat (without water), celebrated by mothers for the well being and prosperity of their children. Jitiya is a very auspicious festival for all the women. Jitiya Vrat is a festival through which the mothers get a chance to show their love and affection for their children. It is also considered one of the most difficult vrats (fasts) in the Hindu mythology, as it is performed without consuming a single drop of water. The festival is majorly celebrated in Nepal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
A three-day long Jitiya Vrat is celebrated from the Saptami (seventh) to the Navami (ninth) day of the Krishna Paksha of Ashwin month.The very first day of the Vrat is called the Nahai-Khai, in which the mothers are supposed to consume their food only after having a bath. The second day is called Khur-Jitiya or Jivitputrika, in which the mothers follow a strict fast without consuming food or water and they also wear a Jitiya which is a Red and Yellow colour thread. Some of them also wear a locket in the thread according to the number of children they have. On the third or the last day of Jitiya which is known as Parana, the mothers finally end their vrat or fast. It’s a tradition that the mothers tend to end their fast by consuming Noni ka Saag and Maruwa ka Roti. Jitiya also consist of Kathas (stories) that are believed as the reason of celebrating this festival. There are several stories that are still believed.
One of the stories is, once an eagle and a female fox lived near Narmada River in a jungle on Himalayas. Both of them saw some women doing the rituals of the Vrat and generated a desire of doing this it. During the Vrat the female fox couldn’t control her hunger and ate her food and on the other hand the eagle completes the vrat with full devotion. As a result, kids born to the female fox died few days after their birth and eagle’s kids were blessed with long life.

The other one is, it is believed that once there was a wise king Jimutavahana of Gandharv’s. The king left his kingdom for his brothers and went to forest to take care of his father. One day he saw women who were mourning for her son. When Jimutavahana asked the reason, she said that she was a Nagvanshaki, who belonged to the family of snakes and had only one son. And the next day her son was going to be sacrificed due to a oath that, each day one snake will be given to Garuda as his food. Jimuthavahana gives her his words that he will save her son on any cost. He offered himself as the food for Garuda. Garuda was impressed by his bravery and kindness and promised him to never harm any of the snakes. Since then, the festival of Jitiya is celebrated for the long life of children.