By: Surekha Dhaleta
Bhireen! that’s the first salutation of the day which is uttered by most of the people in the upper areas of Shimla, especially Jubbal, Rohru, Kothkai, in Himachal Pradesh. (I am not sure about other areas that is why I am being specific) on the day of Sankranti of Magh (January 13).
Bhireen is a kind of pleasantry exchanged on this specific day, along with other rituals like taking bath with cold water, early in the morning at the nearest spring, nalu and baodis. (I am pretty sure, only some brave hearts would be daring to get out of their quilts and have a bath with cold water).
For years this word, Bhireen, has intrigued me as to what its meaning is? I have posed this query to many in my natal village and elders around in the family, but every one has just unanimously said this is a greeting, which conveys one’s good wishes on this particular day.
What is fascinating and very interesting about this salutation, as some anecdotal evidences suggest that, if you are the first one to say Bhireen to the other person, the other person has to reciprocate you with some kind of gift. (It is said only, rather done, as no one gives you a gift).
But I have received a gift some years back, as it happened that I said “Bhireen” to one of my grannies in our village, catching her inattentive and poor granny was in a dissension the whole day as to what she shall give me as I kept on reminding her that I was the first one to say “Bhireen” to her. So granny dear relented by making mash (urad) ke Bedne (Bharwan) Sidku for me with dollops of ghee, which I relish even today.
But one can now hear very few people exchanging this salutation. I believe, with times going ahead, we too are racing ahead, these are small things coming out from the minute textures of our lives which our ancestors have kept as a repository of traditions, reminding us to take out some time from our so called hectic schedules to halt for a moment and take a breather and get in touch with our near and dear ones.
So Bhireen everyone and I am waiting curiously for my gift!