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Kartika Purnima; reliving the rich maritime history of Odisha

Odisha’s traders travelled abroad in the past for trade and cultural exchanges, one of the most prominent countries they went to was Indonesia.

Anirbaan Hritiq
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Kartika PurnimaPhotoPhoto:

Devotees releasing miniature boats on the occasion of Kartika Purnima

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The Hindu festival of Kartika Purnima is celebrated on the 15th lunar day (full moon) of Kartika month which according to the western calendar falls in the month of November and December. This unique festival is celebrated in the entire country and has different variants.

A bird’s eye view:

In north India, Kartika Purnima is associated with Probodhini Ekadashi which is celebrated on the 11th lunar day of Kartika month, which marks the end of the four-month, underwater resting period of Lord Vishnu who goes to sleep on Shayani Ekadashi and wakes up on this day. 

From Probodhini Ekadashi, the famous Pushkar Mela starts in Rajasthan and ends on Karthik Purnima. During this occasion, it is believed that taking bath in the holy Pushkar lake can help in attaining salvation and getting rid of karmic debts.

Meanwhile, people also take holy deep in the Ganga on this auspicious day to get rid of all sins committed in their present and past lives. 

Whereas people of South India celebrate this occasion as Karthika Deepam (festival of lights), which is more prominent in Tamil-speaking communities that decorate their houses with pretty rangolis and earthen lamps (diyas). In Kerala, Goddess Karthiyayeni is offered prayers.

Kartika Purnima in Odisha:

Kartika Purnima in Odisha is celebrated in a unique way by floating miniature boats (also known as Boita Bandana) made out of natural materials such as banana trees leaves, stems and straws from coconut trees. People usually decorate their boats with flowers, diyas, betel leaves, small pieces of fabrics and incense sticks, and float the boats in water bodies as a symbol of remembrance of Odisha’s rich maritime history.

Odisha’s traders travelled abroad in the past for trade and cultural exchanges, one of the most prominent countries they went to was Indonesia. The world-famous Cuttack and Paradip Bali Jatra are celebrated every year as a reminiscence of Odisha’s rich maritime trade with Bali, located in Indonesia. The references of which can be found in the legendary folklore of ‘Tapoi’ which dates back to the 13-14th century C.E.

Religious importance of Kartika Purnima in Odisha:

Kartika month is deemed as one of the holiest months amongst the Hindus throughout India as well as Odisha. 
In Odisha, people follow a strictly vegetarian diet during this month and engaged themselves in spiritual activities. The most crucial period during this month is a five-days observation of Punchuka, which ends with Kartika Purnima.
People who eat a non-vegetarian diet, get relief from their long break after this day and resume eating by observing Chada Khai.

Meanwhile, Rasalila programs of Lord Radha-Krishna are observed in all Lord Vishnu temples including the world-famous Lord Jagannath Temple, Puri, Odisha. And, Habisialis who eat strictly a non-spicy vegan diet only once in a day without the use of onion and garlic, end their fast on this day.

Knowledge Corner:
Kartika Purnima is also celebrated by the Sikh and Jain communities. The first of ten gurus of Sikhism, Saint Guru Nanak was born on this pious occasion of Katika Purnima.

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