Did you know that long before the emergence of matrimonial sites there existed a marketplace of brides and grooms?
Saurath, a village situated 6 kilometers northeast of Madhubani in Bihar has an interesting tradition going on for over centuries. Thousands of Maithil Brahmins gather and sit under the soothing shade of Mango and Banyan trees to fix marriages during the auspicious marriage season. This gathering occurs yearly in the month of Jyestha-Aasadh (Hindu Calendar). The marriages are fixed according to the horoscope read by the Panjikars (registrars).
Saurath was originally named ‘Saurashtra’ which means a hundred states, associated with the Janaka of Nepal, the ancient king of Mithila. It is believed that that Swayamvar of Devi Seeta, king Janaka’s daughter took place in this village.
There is another interesting folklore which links Saurath to Somnath Temple in Gujarat. In AD 1025, when ruler Mahmud Ghazni attacked the famous temple of Somnath, its stupendous wealth was depredated and was completely demolished. It is believed that Lord Somnath appeared in the dreams of two Maithil Brahman brothers, Bhagirathdutta Sharma and Gangadutta Sharma and asked them to get the Shiva Lingam away. The brother duo following the command of lord went to Dwarka and hid the lingam in Saurath for a long time. Later the deity was duly enshrined and in 18th century a Mithila King from Janakpur constructed the temple of Somnath.
After the compelling history of Saurath village, it is interesting to know how did Sabha (Sabha Gachi) started. It was 14th century when Mithila King Harsinghdeva introduced Panji Prabandh which implied to Brahmins and Kayastha to facilitate marriage and curb evil practices associated with the fixing of marriage. This was something new and a path-breaking step at that time because marrying people were allowed to meet the family members as well as the groom so that marriage could be fixed in front of everyone. The Maharaja of Mithila sanctioned this idea and these Sabha started talking place in Saurath along with 13 other villages. A plot of 22 Bigha (almost 9 acres) was donated by Darbhanga Maharaj in Saurath village for this purpose. Saurath has kept this tradition going while other villages have stopped holding such Sabhas.
Every year, during auspicious season of marriage, thousands of Maithili Brahmins Gather at Sabha Gaachi in Saurath to find a perfect match for their son or daughter. It is mandatory for the family to get a certificate from a Panjikar stating that there is no blood relation between the bride and the groom as prescribed by the rules of prohibited degrees of relationship. The timing and number of days of the Sabha is decided by referring the Mithila Panchang. The meeting is held at a particular place known as ‘Dera’. Usually it is held for 7 to 15 days a year or sometimes twice a year. The guardian or the father of the bride starts searching suitable groom with the help of relatives or Ghatak (middlemen). All necessary discussions take place openly in a democratic way. If everything works out for both the parties then marriage is considered to be fixed. It is surprising to know that ladies or girls are not allowed in Saurath Sabha.
Saurath Sabha is one another unique tradition of Mithila which its people has kept very close to their hearts. Nowhere in the world such a Sabha takes place and so beautifully. We appreciate the painstaking efforts of people of Mithilanchal for keeping the diverse culture and tradition alive despite the negligence of Government.