Bhubaneswar: Kumar Purnima, one of the most important festivals of Odisha is celebrated every year on the full moon day of Ashwin month. The day is celebrated as per the long-followed tradition of young women performing religious rites seeking ideal life partners and a bright future.
Maidens wake up much before sunrise, bathe and get dressed to perform the ‘Janhi Osa’ where they offer to the sun god, palmful of ‘khae’ with ‘janhi’ (striped gourd), cucumber, banana, coconut, gua (betel nut), etc. known as ‘Anjuli’. They also lighten a diya and perform a puja to pay reverence to the Almighty for a suitable bridegroom. The same ritual is performed in the evening, but with ‘Chanda chakata’.
Lord Kumar Kartikeya, the son of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati, was very good-looking and the most eligible bachelor in the kingdom of gods. Therefore, maidens celebrate this festival and perform rituals, aspiring for a husband, as handsome as him.
The full moon is the centre of attraction in this festival. Girls raise the ‘Chanda chakata’ and pray to the moon. The moon is also synonymous to a handsome husband that the girls are seeking for themselves. Old grannies are of the opinion that a girl has to see the ‘Udila Janha’ (the fresh moon that has just risen on the horizon) for a young and attractive husband; if one takes too long to see the just-risen moon, then an old and senile bridegroom is in their destiny.
In villages, ‘Puchi’ competitions are held in the moonlight. Schools also organise ‘Puchi’ competitions for girls. Games (such as ‘Puchi’, ‘Bohu-Bohuka’, ‘Bisa-Amruta’, etc. are played and songs (like ‘Phula Baula Beni’) are sung in the moonlight.
The ‘Chanda chakata’ is a delicacy made up of ‘khaee’, jaggery, banana, coconut, ginger, sugarcane, talasajja, cucumber, ghee, honey and milk is laid out on a ‘kula’ (winnowing fan) in the shape of a half moon and offered to the moon. It is then rolled into fistfuls of balls and partaken of. This tasty delight is also distributed among neighbours.
Kumar Utsav is celebrated across Odisha to commemorate Kumar Purnima. Dance and music performances are organised across the state. Odissi recitals, dance performances on popular folk songs (“Kuanra Punei Janha Lo”) and Dasavatara (ten incarnations of Vishnu), Sambalpuri ‘Dalkhai’ dance and tales of this Odia festival are depicted on stage.
Lord Jagannath and Krishna are prayed throughout the month of ‘Kartika’ that commences from the day after Kumar Purnima till ‘Rasa’ purnima. A special ‘Habisa dalma’ is prepared using ingredients like moong daal, colocasia, green raw banana, ‘oou’ and ghee, without the usage of turmeric. This dalma is eaten once every day, before dusk and remains a diet staple throughout the month of ‘Kartika’.