Raja: Festival of Fertility

Celebrated in the month of June, from 14th to 17th, after a spell of dry summer. Raja marks the onset of the long awaited monsoon. Odisha, a predominantly agrarian state, celebrates this festival with rare gusto. Unmarried girls mostly participate in this with youthfulness & passion. During the four days that this festival is observed the fields are left undisturbed, the girls are not allowed to walk barefoot, lest they defile mother earth during her menstrual period.

A period of feasts and merrymaking, a time for special sweet delicacies in homes everywhere, it signifies a way of life, as thousands of people assemble in temples scattered throughout Odisha to pay homage to Mother Goddess.

 This festival of the rains commemorates the fertility of the earth. All decked up, girls swing wildly on the swings hung on the branches of the trees, sing songs of love, marriage and their partners.

Raja Doli

Girls dressed in vivid sarees- brilliant reds, electric blues and bamboo greens evoke the erotic hues of peacock faders the rims of their embellished feet with red dye, their foreheads decorated with florid designs in sandalwood paste. Filigreed pendants hang from there earlobes. They swing on the decorated swings hanging from the low branches of the trees.

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A Voyage to Elsewhere

By Shri Dipak Samantarai

Today is Kartika Purnima. An auspicious day in the Hindu calendar. It’s also the day on which Guru Nanak Dev was born.
In the wee hours of the night/morning women of our state, especially the married ones, go to the nearest water holes and sail paper boats with lamps lit on them. This is a symbolic ritual that reminds of a real act, seeing off of Sadhabapua setting sail to distant lands for trade and cultural exchanges.

Some otherwise informed intellectuals question the veracity of this connect. It’s true that the Odia sailors have not ensured that their stories be made available to the future generations in the shape of inscriptions as the kings and rulers have done. But a closer analysis of the comparative cultures of Odisha with our ‘supposed’ trade partners tells a different tale. The maritime history of Kalinga sailors lies littered in the islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Cambodia. The celebration of popular festivals of a similar nature reinforces it.

500 Years Durga Puja History in Kataka (Cuttack)

Binod Bihari (Balu Bazaar) Chandi Medha – In the narrow by lanes of Binod Bihari near Naya Sarak ,Katata (Cuttack) , It is said that in the year 1512 to 1517 AD Chaitanya Deva had come to Cuttack, the capital of Gajapati Empire of Odisha and the then emperor of Odisha Gajapati Pratap Rudra Dev received him at Gadagadia Ghata situated near the river bank of Mahanadi very close to the kings palace popularly known as Barabati fort. In that year Shree Chaitanya Deva started Durga Puja at Binod Bihari temple presently known as Balu Bazaar.
Here Binod Bihari Devi’s sacred idol was installed in a small house. Thereafter the place became known as Binod Bihari which consisted of Balu Bazar, Bakharabad, Alamchand Bazar, Sahebazada Bazar and Nayasadak. Daily worship of the deity was performed in conformity with Vaishanav tradition. He stayed at Binod Bihari Temple. In the mean time autumn Durga Puja period arrived. He worshipped a brass Durga idol there. Thus it was the origin of Durga Puja in Cuttack.
Later the Thakur family began worshipping of the clay idol. The tradition contiued till date. It would continue as long as the Odia civilisation lasts. Akshaya Kumar Banerjee’s ancestors were true Vaishnavites. They had also visited Puri. But while returning they settled along the Kathajodi river in the same place Binod Bihari.
In 1517 AD the clay idol making evolved from the second day of the birth day of Lord Krishna emulating the Bengal Methodology. The whole responsibility lied on the Banerjee family from this day till immersion of the idols. The tradition remains in tact even now and generation after generation the Benarjee family rules the roost. Goddess Durga of Binod Bihari was thus addressed as the ‘Big Sister’.
Later five Puja Pendals were erected, clay idols installed and worshipped. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had introduced community Durga Puja in Odia Bazar. The Durga Puja has gone through many a transformation over the centuries and the zeal ramains undiminished, rather more visible.

– With References from Antiquity of Durga Puja by Shri Om Prakash , Worship of Goddess Durga in Cuttack – Shri Parikhit Mishra

Silver Filigree Walks 2.0 , Dusshera in Cuttack

Silver Filigree Walk 2.0 completed this morning of Maha Saptami (5/10/19).
Photographs by the Hon’ble Members of Cuttack Heritage Walks.
The backdrops (Chandi Medhas) and silver filigree as well as gold ornaments looked absolutely stunning with the majestic images of Devi and her consorts.
In the earlier edition we had seen the backdrops and ornaments being made by the silver filigree artists and artisans with love and care.