Meet the Legends-Bawa Jitto and Bua Kauri

The Legends (Place of Worship)


On the border of the Marh belt in Jammu is Jhiri, a major village, almost 18 km from the capital city. It is famous for a 15th-century farmer Bawa Jitto. The peasant has an interesting tale.

Born and brought up in Katra's Ghaar village, Jitto in the early part of his life was dispossessed from his inheritance by the local Panchayat. Legend has that his aunt Jojan was hostile and usurped his lands. Along with his daughter Bua Kori, he migrated to Jhiri to live with his friend Iso Megh. Local Zamindar, Mehta Bir Singh, gave him some barren land to cultivate. Thinking that the land is too petty and barren and may not grow anything at all, Singh sought only one-fourth of the crop that this land would produce.

Jitto, actually Jit Mal, worked hard with Iso Megh on the barren land. It resulted in a bumper crop. Greedy Singh was surprised by the crop. As he came to collect his part, he took three-fourth and left the rest for the farmer. This was a blatant violation of the agreement. Shocked over the injustice that was meted out to the hardworking and god-fearing Jitto, he sat on the heap of grains and thrust a dagger in his heart and committed suicide. Legend has that Jitto had said while killing himself: Sukki Kanak Nain Khayaan Mehtya, Dinna Ratt Ralayi (Don't eat raw wheat, oh Mehta, let me mix my blood in it.) After finding his corpse, Bua Kori is understood to have committed suicide also.

The peasant hero became an instant deity, especially after a massive flood that brought misery to the region, and is being worshipped for all these centuries of his immortality. Part of folklore and Dogra literature, Jitto was the subject matter of a fascinating play by Balwant Thakur's Natrang. It was this play and a few research papers by the academics that helped him to re-emerge as a hero, almost on the pattern of Jambu Lochan.

After the harvest is over, thousands of farmers from the entire border region come with their share of the crops as their offering to their hero. It is an organised week-long Mela (festival) that is now being attended by 15 lakh people in November.

While Jitto has a majestic shrine where his farmer followers sing ballads in his memory, the script of the story has not changed at all in this border belt. The land, the subject matter of the legend is still the story.