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Halloween overshadowing “Tesu-Jhanjhi” An Indian Traditional Festival

Tesu Jhanjhi
Halloween overshadowing "Tesu-Jhanjhi" An Indian Traditional Festival

New Delhi: Gone are the days, when urchins(group of young children) used to decorate their tesu-jhanjhi and roam around the neighbourhood humming songs and asking for goodies or donations.

However, till today, in a bid to keep the age old tradition alive, small children of the Vraja croon the tesu-jhanjhi song or geet:

Tesu-Jhanjhi gaye bazaar, wahan se laaye aam ka achar;

mera tesu yahin adha, Khane ko mange dahi bada….

(Tesu and Jhanjhi went to the bazaar, where they bought mango pickle,

My Tesu will stand here and he wants dahi bada to eat…)

Despite the tradition dying a slow death, Brajwasi children, through their songs, are keeping afloat a ritual that has been endangered by foreign cultural intrusion.

With the influx of western culture into the Indian society and Halloween getting popularized, the “Tesu-Jhanjhi” culture is gradually disappearing. Indian children staying glued to television and aping the western culture has further eclipsed the celebration.

Expressing nostalgia about tesu, Dhananjay Gautam, a Brajwasi , noted, “It is a lost culture which needs to be preserved.”

“The tradition of the tesu-jhanjhi is inspired by a story from Hindu epic Mahabharata”

What is the “Tesu”?

Tesu is a small toy made of sticks and clay head made by the small boys.  The girls in turn have a small perforated clay pot with a lit earthen lamp inside it. They visit houses in their neighbourhood on the eve of the Navaratri and recite the traditional children’s song.  Elated with the efforts they get rewarded with gifts and money.

On the day of Dusserra the children blindfold the Tesu-Jhanjhi and immerse them in a water body.

History of “Tesu

Tesu” has its origin embedded in the Mahabharata. Bhima’s grandson Barbarik chopped off his own head before the Mahabharata war at the request of Krishna. But he expressed his desire to witness the battle. Fulfilling his desire, Krishna placed Barbarik’s head atop a mountain overlooking the battlefield.

After vanquishing the Kauravas, the Pandavas argued on who made the greatest contribution in the war. Krishna came to the rescue and suggested that Barbarik’s head should judge the matter. Barbarik declared that Krishna with his strategy and his presence played the most crucial role in the battle. Pleased with Barbarik, Krishna blessed him that children would worship him in the Kaliyuga in the form of tesu. The tesu thus resembles the head of Barbarik and the jhanjhi resembles his body.

Hollywood vs Tesu

Fierce marketing by Hollywood has made Halloween popular in India. With metropolis in India celebrating Halloween, an age old tradition that has roots in our cultural history is getting sidelined. It is evident that the smart-phone generation is clearly turning a blind eye to our very own rituals. Halloween and “Tesu” are celebrated nearly at the same time. It is only because of marketing that Halloween elbowed out the latter.

It’s time for the the Indian youth to dig deep into the culture and start celebrating their own traditional festivals instead of Indianizing western festivals.


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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Along with tesu, there are many other such traditions which exists and should be followed. One such tradition is in Maharashtra. In the month of May, people tie swings to trees and swing along with singing songs. This tradition is now usually followed only in the rural parts of Maharashtra

Next Story

Mahabharata or Game of Thrones? Quite similar!

The world's largest poem, Mahabharata, written almost five-millenniums ago is too beyond words.

Mahabharata and Game of Thrones have quite a lot similarities! Wikimedia commons
Mahabharata and Game of Thrones have quite a lot similarities! Wikimedia commons

A twisted world, beyond words; turns and twists, come to think of it, nothing new to us. Westeros is indeed a world that keeps us hooked to the screens. But for a person, who has primary knowledge about Indian mythology, these twists and turns won’t be a matter of surprise.

The world’s largest poem, Mahabharata, written almost five-millenniums ago is too beyond words. From honour, to bravery and battle, to plots and back-stabs, there are many scenarios in the Mahabharata that make Game of Thrones quite similar to it. Here’s how!

Jon Snow and the Mother of Dragons resemble Karna and Draupadi respectively. Wikimedia commons
Jon Snow and the Mother of Dragons resemble Karna and Draupadi respectively. Wikimedia Commons
1. Jon Snow and Karna, two men who are illegitimate sons from powerful families. Both turn out to have royal blood. Also, they both suffer misfortune throughout their lives. 
2. The arrogant, Joffrey Baratheon, doesn’t he remind you of Duryodhana? Two spoiled princes who were pampered throughout their lives. They have an ill temper and a so well-noted lack of manners.
3. Littlefinger, one of the most clever characters of the series holds a deep resemblance to the Mahabharata antagonist Shakuni. Both of them wish to wipe out clans and provoke war.
4. One of the initial reasons for GOT to get so famous was Cerci Baratheon and the idea of incest. However, other than that she is a clever woman. And more than that, she is a mother who wishes to protect her children whatever be the cost. Remember Gandhari?
5. The two most fierce women of these two stories, are undoubtedly Daenerys Targaryen and Draupadi. Strong willed, central protagonists, one was born out of a fire and the other one survived it.
Just like Mahabharata, GOT has worked on war extensively. Wikimedia commons
Just like Mahabharata, GOT has worked on war extensively. Wikimedia Commons
6. Aswathamma, a great and fierce warrior, extremely loyal but cursed. Not a dark character, but the circumstances force him to make all the wrong choices. Jamie Lannister is quite a bit of him.
7. Lord Vayrs and Shikandi, two eunuch characters, both proud of their identity and both received deceit in life.
8. Two younger siblings who have grown up in the shadow of their formidable elder ones. They both can glimpse into the future.
9. Two most dreadful people in both the epics, Kans and Tywin Lannister. Both of them are ruthless and do anything to manipulate the situation to their favour.
10. The final, and the most interesting similarity between the two epics. Two characters that are loved universally, look at things deeply and (as Sherlock would say) are masters of deduction. Tyrion and Lord Krishna resemble each other faintly. Just like the ‘cheer Haran’, Tyrion saved Sansa Stark’s honour from Joffrey.