Odisha celebrates Lakshmi Puja, Kumar Purnima with gaiety

Bhubaneswar: India has an age-old tradition of celebrating the birthday of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Kumar Purnima is celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu lunar month of Ashvin.

The day is a full moon day- Purnima- and it marks the birth of Kumar Kartik, also known as Kumar Kartikeya, which is why it is named as Kumara Purnima. Kumar Kartikeya, the son of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati was very good-looking and the most eligible bachelor in the kingdom of gods. Therefore, young girls celebrate this festival and perform rituals, aspiring for a husband, as handsome as him.

This day is also observed as the birth day of Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. Therefore, many people worship the Goddess at their homes and keep themselves awake by playing cards, and other indoor games to bring in the fortune owl.

As far as the ritual goes, girls wake up in the dawn, bathe and get dressed to perform the ‘Janhi Osa’ where they offer ‘khaee’ with ‘janhi’ (striped gourd), cucumber, banana, coconut, gua (betel nut), etc. as ‘Anjuli’ to the Sun God. They also lighten an earthen lamp and perform a puja to pay reverence to the Almighty for a suitable bridegroom. The same ritual is performed in the evening, but to worship the Moon God with ‘Chanda chakata’.

A landmark traditional game of Odiyas named ‘Puchikhela’ competition is also organized at society, village and town levels.  It is played in a squatting position where one’s weight is shifted and balanced from one leg to another rapidly. Other Odiya games such as ‘Bohu-Bohuka’, ‘Bisa-Amruta’, etc. are also played and songs (like ‘Phula Boula Beni’) are sung in the moonlight.

Nowadays many puja pandals are set up with beautifully decorated clay idols of Lord Kartik and Goddess Lakshmi. The numbers of such pandals have surged over years and led to a healthy cultural competition.

Odisha, which is known to be the land of 13 festivals across 12 months, has indeed a rich cultural heritage to be enjoyed and passed through generations.

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