Offbeat

'Aa ka Ma Boi': Kartika Purnima and its traditional Observance

Each year Kartika Purnima is celebrated with religious fervour throughout the state. People during this festivity observe the ritual of Boita Bandana by floating tiny boats in ponds, rivers and other water bodies on the day of Kartika Purnima, which marks the end of the Hindu month of Kartika.

While in Bhubaneswar, enthusiastic devotees throng the banks of Bindu Sagar tank and also river Daya to sail the boats, in Cuttack, people basically visit the Mahanadi river ghat and other nearby water bodies. And in Puri, several devotees are seen visiting the Jagannath Temple to offer prayers to the Lord. 

People mostly flock the river banks hours before sunrise to set the boats afloat along with diyas.

'The tradition is as old as the state itself and is a reminder of the maritime glory of Odisha, when 'Sadhabas' sailed off to the distant lands of Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Ceylon, Daman and Diu for trade by huge boats named as 'Boita'. The women of the community saw them off by saying 'Aa ka Ma Boi, Pana Gua Thoi, Pana Gua Tora, Masaka Dharama Mora', as a prayer to protect the people in their sea voyage and for their safe return.

MYTHOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE:

If mythology is to be believed, the festival of Kartika Purnima commemorates the destruction of the demon Tripurasura by Lord Shiva who assumed the form of Tripurantaka to save the heaven from the havoc created by the demon and his sons. The killing of the demons and destruction of their cities with a single arrow by Shiva overjoyed the Gods and they declared the day as a festival of illuminations. This day is also called 'Dev-Diwali'- the Diwali of the Gods.
 
The day also marks the end of the period of 'Chaturmas' (four months), during which Lord Vishnu is believed to sleep and no auspicious work is carried out.

UNIVERSAL SIGNIFICANCE:

Kartika Purnima is also synonymous with vows of abstinence, sacrifices, charity and worship. So it is universally celebrated across Indian communities and faiths. People of the Jain faith observe austere rituals and try to visit the pilgrim centre of Palitana, where the first Jain Tirthankara (Jain canonised preacher) delivered the first sermon.

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