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Kartika Purnima : The Traditions and Significance

The festival fervor of Odisha grips its people in the tie of love, fondness and brotherhood. “13 Festivals in 12 Months”, a local proverb in Odia proves how much important are festivals to Odisha. These festivals not only impact the way of living life but brings fortune and good luck with tremendous health and wealth. There are few placss in the country where you will find such traditional signature festivals celebrated and Odisha is a state which proudly does so. In this article, we will look at the importance and traditions of a famous and unique religious festival known as Kartika Purnima. The different rituals followed, activities performed are the key points those make the festival unique and special. 

Purnima or the full moon day is auspicious for the Hindus. The religious beliefs and traditions of Indians are closely related to this day. The fifteenth lunar day of Kartik month (a month as per the lunar calendar) is a day of festivity and fervour for Odisha. Also known as Kartika Purnima, it is not only celebrated in Odisha, but also across the whole country, the followers of Hindu, Sikh and Jain celebrate the cultural festival with gaiety and enthusiasm. The festival is a warm welcome to the festival of light Deepavali and is more than it. 

Locals floating boats at Kartik Purnima
courtesy Bhubaneshwar Buzz

In ancient times, merchants of the state used to trade over voyage with Java, Sumatra, Bali. They had to voyage on boats and brought wealth for our country. Kartika Purnima in Odisha is a observation to commemorate such great past of the state. 

About The Festival

The full moon day of the month Kartika (October – November)  is celebrated as Kartika Purnima. This is a day of great historical and religious significance for the people of Odisha. Other wise known as Danga Bhasa day and Panchuka, the day reminds the people of Odisha about ancient Sadhaba Pua (Merchant’s son)  who used to voyage to foreign countries like Java, Sumatra and Bali.

 In the memory of those Sadhaba Pua, who had to leave home for the purpose of trade and used Boats for their journey, people of Odisha ferry different kinds of boat in the rivers. Boats made of paper, Thermocol, banana leafs and woods are ferried in rivers with some rituals and  worshipping the God for fortune and wealth. So, this day is also known as Danga Bhasa Divasa (Boat ferry Day) .

 On this day also ends the custom of painting Rangoli (Colloquially known as Muruja) of different colours which subsequently follows for a period of 5 days. Kartika Purnima is the last day of Panchuka as the Rangoli custom ends on the fifth day. 

Mythological Significance

As per Indian mythology, Kartika Purnima is the day on which Lord Vishnu took his Matsya Avatar god (fish-incarnation). Vrinda, the personification of the Tulsi plant and of Kartikeya, the god of war and son of Shiva, was also born on this day. 

This day also is considered special for Radha, the lover of Krishna – Vishnu’s incarnation. It is believed that Krishna and Radha danced rasa and Krishna worshipped Radha on this day.

Ancestors (Pitru Purusha) are also worshipped on this day. 

Boita Bandana Ustava 

Paying tribute to our ancient Sadhaba Pua (Merchant sons), people of Odisha start their morning by ferrying toy boats in the water channels or rivers. The occasion is both festive and full of fun. It also represents the maritime glory of Odisha. 

On this day, people of Odisha wake up early. Having bathed, they rush towards the rivers, ponds or any water channel nearby with toy boats. Congregating near water bodies they set afloat toy boats with lighted lamps (diya), betel leaves, flower, milk, supari, cracker fruits and coins to mark a thousand years old boat festival called Boita Bandana Ustava. 

Boita bandhana festival 05
Boita Bandhana in Badamba, Odisha

Kartik Purnima usually falls in the month of October or November. It is one of the auspicious festivals that people of Odisha celebrate with great enthusiasm and fun. 

The early morning, the banks of water bodies around the cities and towns look like a fair ground. The Boita Bandana congregates a large number of people to ferry their boats. The tradition reckons the glimpses of ancient history in people of Odisha. The great history of maritime of Odisha is rememebered through festivals. Boita Bandana Ustava is also held in many places to commemorate the same. 

Observances and Rituals 

According to some knowers, the tradition of observing Kartika Purnuma is essential because on this day people offer prayers to the ancestors and seek their blessings.

It is a custom in Odisha, not to consume non vegeterian food for the full month of Kartika. People show their devotion by leaving nonveg for a month. The last five days of the month are considered to be very important and known as “Panchuka” The very last day is being celebrated as Kartika Purnima.

Kartik Purnima2
courtesy Sambad English

Women and mostly widowed women keep fast through out the month of Kartika and eat only once during day. Those widows are also called Habishyalis devote their month in order to get peace. 

The famous Bali Jatra, an annual fair along the banks of the Mahanadi River in Cuttack, kick-starts on this day. A week long fair, it literally means A Voyage to Bali. This festival is held at Gadagadia Ghata of the Mahanadi river, to mark the day when ancient mariners started their voyage for trade.

The toy boat festival also marks the end of a month-long abstinence from non-vegetarian food for most Odia families. The next day of Kartika Purnima is celebrated as ‘Chada Khai’ people start eating non-vegetarian food from that day.

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