By Himanshu Guru with inputs from Niranjan Behera
Kendrapada: It seems bizarre but the happening is true. Goddess Basulai, the prime Goddess of Bajarpur village near Rajkanika in Kendrapada district of Odisha gets married to a human on Magha Purnima every year. The wedding is the most awaited festival in Rajkanika region.
The Goddess is regarded as the daughter of Kanika king. Every year her wedding gets solemnised with Kumbhar King Bali.
As per the legend, long ago once King Bali visited the forest near Bajarpur for hunting accompanied by his brother Basuli. There he came across a beautiful girl whom he wanted to marry. However, the girl was none other than the prime Goddess of the area, Basulai, who was then roaming in the forest in the incarnation of a girl.
The king asked for the parents of the girl and she took him to the priest of the temple. Now, they get married. Yet, soon after the ‘hastagranthi’ ritual, the king died, probably because he had married to a Goddess, which can be seen as a violation of the natural law.
However, since then, the villagers observe the day as a festival. Every year on the Magha Purnima which is also celebrated as the Agni Utsav, the wedding gets solemnized in a festival.
Astonishingly, the wedding is executed just like a human marriage. The bridegroom comes accompanied by his people in a procession. That means people including the descendants of the erstwhile Kumbhar king carry statues of the Kumbhar King Bali and his brother Basuli on their shoulder to the bride’s place in a procession. Like a modern wedding, the grand convoy includes DJ music, fireworks, and decorated lights while thousands of people on both sides of the road, witness it.
The festival has been observed since long. People of the area don’t marry until the Goddess’ marriage is not solemnized.
The bridegroom and his party receive a warm welcome by the bride side near the temple. Later, the wedding is executed amid chanting of the hymns by a purohita (priest). Priest of Basulai temple acts as the father of the Goddess in the marriage and perform the rituals including Kanyadaan.
The bride side, that day, throws a party for the bridegroom party with all decorum that we witness in today’s marriages. The menu of the party includes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food besides many other ceremonial recipes like pitha, kakra etc. Even the bride side provides dowry as a gift to the bridegroom.
The wedding is observed like a fair by people of Rajkanika area. The fair includes Jatra and other entertaining events. Even a yagnya is done for five days to make the wedding successful.
Rajkishore Das, the priest of Maa Basulai temple in Bajarpur acts as the father of the bride. He said, “We are Brahmin. (He means the bride, Goddess Basulai, is also Brahmin). The Goddess is my daughter. We host the bridegroom party with foods like people do these days in the wedding of their daughters.”
Narahari Behera, the Karta (chief executor) of the bridegroom side said, “King Bali comes in a procession with his brother. The wedding is completely like a human marriage.”
Rabi Narayan Behera, a villager of Bajarpur said, “It is a rare festival where a Goddess weds a human. After the marriage is solemnized, the statue of the bridegroom is buried. And hence, for seven days the goddess is regarded as a widow and so nobody visits the temple during that period. The goddess is regarded as the daughter of the Kanika king and he bears the expense of the wedding. Everybody in Kanika region waits for Magha Purnima or Agni Utsav to take part and witness the massive festival.”
Pradipta Kumar Biswal from Bajarpur said, “Maa Basulai is the prime Goddess of our village. We don’t arrange marriages or thach our houses in the area until Her wedding is not solemnized. The festival is going on in this village since long.”
Locals strongly believe that the festival spreads brotherhood in the area.
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