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Boita Bandana – Kartika Purnima in Odisha

Boita Bandana celebrations in Cuttack

Boita Bandana is celebrated in the lunar month of Kartika in Odisha.  It falls roughly in the months of October-November. Kartika ushers in an abundance of sacred vibes & auspicious activities throughout the length & breadth of India.

Of all the days in the month of Kārtika, the full-moon day or Purnima is believed to be one of the most auspicious. The practices & rituals observed during this period are diverse with common as well as unique elements as per the regions or the people who celebrate them. Varanasi Celebrates it as Dev Deepawali, Goa celebrates it as Tripurari Purnima and Tamil Nadu celebrates it as Karthikai. 

A common practice during this holy month is lighting lamps and submerging oneself in a spiritual way of life.

Boita Bandana of Odisha

The coastal state of Odisha celebrates Kartik Purnima in a unique way. As the dawn breaks in the wee hours of this full-moon day, Odia people congregate in large numbers at various water-bodies across Odisha.

Baliyatra mela is said to be the largest fair of Asia. The picture of front gate of Baliyatra 2019 is taken in evening time on 15th November, 2019 in Baliyatra ground of Cuttack city of Odisha, India

As far as the eyes can see, it is a colorful & vibrant sight filled with little boats with a lighted lamp. Boats carry various symbolic offerings floating on the water. The air is filled with divine smell of oil lamps & incense sticks. Auspicious sounds of the ‘hulahuli’ – traditional ululation by the womenfolk, and various chants can be heard.

Different Names

This is the ritual of ‘Danga Bhasa’ or floating-a-boatceremony, also known as ‘Boita Bandana’. It refers to the  auspicious worship rituals done for a boat/ship at the beginning of its voyage. Another name for this is ‘Bali Jatra’ meaning the voyage to the island of Bali in Indonesia.

Even most Odiā expats living across the globe, away from their birthplace, also commemorate the legacies of their illustrious ancestors through this unique festival.

Floating the boats for Bali Jatra
Floating the boats for Bali Jatra

The most important ritual of Boita Bandana is floating little hand-made boats. They are usually made of plantain or banana stem and other similar natural and traditional materials. Boats are laden with various offerings such as flowers, coins, ‘Kaudis’or  cowries, ‘Pana’ or betel leaves, ‘Guā’ or betel nuts etc, along with a lighted lamp. It is floated while saying some specific words…

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