Manabasa Gurubar is widely celebrated in Odisha on every Thursday of Odia month Margashira. The festival is especially devoted to Goddess Laxmi, the consort of Lord Jagannath.
The four Thursdays in the month of Margashira are called ‘prathama pali’, ‘dwitiya pali’, ‘trutiya pali’ and ‘chaturtha pali’ respectively. This year, these Thursdays are falling on November 30, December 7, December 14 and December 21.
On these days, it is believed that Goddess Laxmi visits every house. So, women with devotion worship Goddess Laxmi for prosperity and well being of their families.
They get up early in the morning, take a bath and wear new white and red coloured sarees. As it is believed, Goddess Laxmi visits a clean house, they clean their houses. They then decorate their houses, basically doorsteps with ‘jhoti chita’(rangoli) using rice paste. Though different patterns are drawn, lotus and the feet of Goddess Laxmi are the common ones.
Thereafter, they prepare a ‘khatuli’, a low height table, for puja. They decorate it with rice paste and spread a new cloth on it. Then they spread newly harvested paddy on it. They follow it up with filling a ‘mana’ (a bamboo pot earlier used to measure paddy) with paddy grains and then place it on the ‘khatuli’. They worship a ‘mana’ as an icon of Goddess Laxmi. They offer ‘Manda pitha’ as prasad to the deity.
The reason behind Goddess Laxmi visiting a clean house is mentioned in Laxmi Purana. In ancient time, untouchables were not allowed to offer puja to deities. On her favourite day Thursday in her favourite Margashira month, Goddess Laxmi wished to visit her devotees. After taking permission from Lord Jagannath, she stepped out of Srimandir early in the morning. She was shocked to see people were still sleeping.
While moving around, she saw a hut was well decorated with jhoti chita and lotus and the feet of Goddess Laxmi were drawn. It was the hut of low cast poor woman Shreya Chandaluni. But, Goddess Laxmi couldn’t resist her desire to visit her hut. Incidentally, Lord Jagannath and Lord Balabhadra were following her. As she was about to enter her house, Lord Balabhadra asked Lord Jagannath to stop her from going to Shreya Chandaluni’s house.
Though Lord Jagannath tried to make His elder brother understand, the latter stuck to His demand of not allowing Goddess Laxmi to Srimandir.
When Goddess Laxmi returned to Srimandir, Lord Jagannath obeyed His elder brother and didn’t allow her into the shrine. With no option left, Goddess Laxmi decided to leave Srimandir but after cursing Lord Jagannath and his siblings that they won’t get food for 12 years and finally have food from Her hand.
Manabasa Gurubar is also related to cultivation. By worshipping a ‘mana’ filled with newly harvested paddy grains, farmers thank Goddess Laxmi for blessing them with a good harvest.
The Manabasa Gurubar is incomplete if women don’t read Maha Laxmi Purana.