Varanasi village, mostly Yadav dominant, decides not to organize ‘terahvin’ feasts in future to save money

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Varanasi, June 17: Residents of Wajidpur village in Harhua block in Varanasi have decided to stop organising terahvin feasts in the future, breaking with a centuries-old tradition of conducting terahvin – a ceremony organised on the thirteenth day of mourning after death in Hindu families – and save the money for supporting poor families, particularly for their children’s education.

They will also undertake planting on the 13th day following any death to commemorate Terahvin.

During a meeting last week at Panchayat Bhawan in the village, the residents voted for a resolution to that effect. They also resolved that if any family organises terhavin and invites guests to a feast in honour of it, the rest of the villagers will boycott the ritual.

Following the death of Shyama Yadav, father of the current village pradhan Lalman Yadav, a proposal to abolish the terahvin feast was raised. Shyama Yadav died on June 4th.

“When some villagers came to my house to offer condolences, they discussed stopping the terahvin feast. They requested that it begin at my house. But the terahvin ritual had been going on for generations, and I couldn’t stop it. I requested that a meeting be held at the panchayat bhavan in this respect. In a meeting at Panchayat Bhavan, a resolution was voted with unanimous support to end terahvin, also known as brahm-bhoj. It was also discussed that organising a feast to commemorate the deaths, more precisely that of young people is not a reason to rejoice. Nobody objected to the suggestion,” informed Lalman Yadav, Pradhan

Yadav stated that as a result of the resolution, he opted not to have his father’s terahvin feast on June 16. “Those who come to pay their respects to my father in shok sabha will be given only drinking water. That day, my four brothers and I would plant seedlings on our farms in remembrance of our father. Other villagers would do the same in the future and take care of the plants,” said Yadav, who is a member of the Samajwadi Party and the head of the Harhua block pradhans’ association.

That organisation has 80 pradhans. He added that other pradhans from the block called him and thanked him for the initiative.

Another villager, Moolchand Yadav, who is also a zila panchayat member, stated that hosting a terahvin feast for locals and family would cost at least Rs 50,000. The bulk of local residents are impoverished farmers. “First, they spend money on treating sick family members, and then they spend money on terahvin after death. They make plans to pay for meals, treats, and other costs. Families often borrow money at interest or sell their property to cover these costs. This has an impact on the family’s schooling and other basic requirements. If the terhavin custom is abolished, families will be able to spend the money on education and improved child health,” he stated.

At the same meeting, villagers resolved to collect Rs 20 from each family each month and deposit it in a single bank account. The money gathered would also be used to fund impoverished children’s education and the marriage of village girls.

The people also agreed in the resolution not to accept “kafan” given for corpses. “Around 100 yellow-colored kafans are donated for every death, and these kafans are thrown away because the body is burned in a single white kafan. Villagers have been asked to give money instead of kafan. “That amount will be donated to any poor family in the village,” pradhan Lalman Yadav added.

Manoj Yadav, another villager, stated, “Those who are financially capable… They hold terahvin bhoj on a huge scale. This puts societal pressure on the impoverished to prepare such a funeral feast in their household. It puts a financial strain on their family members. Once this custom is abolished, individuals will be more equal, and children from low-income households will be able to attend school. As a result, I, like others, endorsed and signed the proposal.”

Wajidpur hamlet, around 12 km from Varanasi district headquarters, has a population of roughly 2,000 people, more than half of whom are Yadavs. There are around 400 Dalits, 200 Thakurs, and several OBC castes.