Festivals are considered to be a time of lot of fun, merry-making and waves of nostalgia. Each of them is pragmatic with an interesting story traced back to ancient times. Khudurukuni Osha also known as Bhalukuni Osha is one such festivity celebrated by Odias. It is observed mainly in the coastal districts of Odisha during the month of Bhadraba (Aug-Sept) on Sundays after the Gahma Purnima (Full moon day of Shravana).
Young girls primarily seeking the safety, prosperity and good health of their brothers worship Goddess Mangala during this festival.This portrays the sanctity and beauty of the relationship between brother and sister.
Modern day celebrations of Khudurukuni Osha include young girls waking up early in the morning and collecting various flowers.Prayers are offered to the Sun god by making small mounds called Bhaluka of clay or sand on the banks of ponds or rivers and decorating it with turmeric powder, vermilion and all types of flowers even like vegetables flowers (cucumber flower, ridge gourd flower etc.)
In some places in Odisha, the area where the paddy is pounded in a village is cleaned well and smeared with cow dung.
The girls spend the day getting ready for the puja and stitch massive garlands for the Goddess. The floor is painted with floral despins Alpanas or Jhotis. The idol of the Goddess is then installed and the worship and rituals begin in the evening.
The prime offerings are:
Khuda Bhaja (Broken Rice)hence the name Khudurukuni. Ukhuda (fried paddy sweetened with molasses), Chuda (flattened paddy), Kanti Kakudi (a type of thorny Cucumber), Lia (fried paddy), Mishri (Sugar candy), Coconut and all types of fruits.
The word Khudurukuni comes from the word Khuda-Rankuni which means one who is very eager for khuda i.e broken rice.
The first episode narrates the story of Goddess Durga defeating Demon Mahishasura. The second episode is the story of the young girl Tapoi who was mistreated by her sisters-in-laws when her sailor brothers were away.
The Story of Tapoi
It is believed that in early days traders from Odisha travelled far and wide mostly to Java and Sumatra Islands in Boitas (ships) to do business. Their family members used to bid them adieu and pray for their good health and safe homecoming.
The name “Tapoi” is widespread in this festivity and this is how her story goes.
Tapoi, the youngest and only sister to her seven brothers, belonged to a rich trader family. Being the only sister she was loved and pampered by her parents and all brothers and their wives alike. All her demands were fulfilled in no time.
With time, she once asked for a golden moon (a moon shaped ornament made of gold), to which her family obliged despite few hiccups. By the time the golden moon reached its completion both her parents had passed away. Thereafter,the financial conditions of the family worsened a lot and when the time of maritime voyages arrived, all the seven brothers went out for trading cautioning their wives to take good care of their sister, Tapoi.
However influenced by the misguided ideas of a Brahmin widow, all her sister-in-laws except the youngest one started ill-treating Tapoi. Tapoi patiently waited for her brothers to return, despite being treated very badly and inhumanly.Her youngest sister-in-law was the only person affectionate and supportive towards Tapoi.
After days of ill-mannered treatment, Tapoi while wandering one day saw some girls worshipping Maa Mangala. When she shared her distress, the young girls asked Tapoi to pray devotedly and seek blessings of Maa Mangala if she wanted to get respite from all her sufferings and seek the safe return of her brothers. They also advised her to fast on those particular Sundays. She offered Khuda to the Goddess as she had nothing else to offer.
Soon her prayers were answered and her brothers returned. On knowing their sisters’ plight, all these brothers unanimously decided to teach their wives a lesson. The brothers decked up Tapoi as a goddess and thereafter the wives were informed to visit the ships and welcome their husbands back home. Tapoi then avenged her sufferings by cutting each of the wives’ noses except for the youngest one.
Since then Goddess Mangala is worshipped by all young girls during the Khudurukuni Osha or Bhalukuni Osha for the well-being of their brothers.
The Tapoi folk song is written in standard Odia language which suggests that it was written during the sixteenth or seventeenth century. The reference to the goddess Mangala in it suggests that worshipping the goddess started in the twelfth and fourteenth century in Odisha. In the folk song there is a reference to Tapoi’s father Tanayabanta mentioning Jamabudvipa (ancient name of India) who was a sadhaba (merchant).
The Festival Today
The festival sets two ideals for girls who observe fast in the month of Bhadrab. One is to be courageous like Durga to fight evil forces and other to be patient like Tapoi and bear sufferings until you come out successful in life.
Though a traditional festival, Khudurkuni is still celebrated with much gaiety and fanfare not only in villages but also cities of Odisha. This is one festival which has managed to withstand the ravages of time and is still popularly celebrated in Odisha.