Rashmi Rekha Das

As the holy Kartik month began today, Habisyalis (elderly women who observe fast during the month) across the State congregated in the pilgrim town of Puri to observe month-long Kartik Brata. 

According to sources, Habisyalis took holy dip in the Tirtha Puskarini following which they had the darshan of Lord Jagannath. They later performed Raidamodar Puja near Brundabati.

The State government has allowed Habisyalis to observe Kartik brata in the holy town after a gap of two years due to Civid restrictions. The district administration has come up with camps for Habisyalis at five places and sheltered 2,935 devotees who observe the month-long ritual. 

This year registration for the accommodation of the Habisyalis had begun on September 10 and continued till September 25. A notification in this regard was issued by the government on September 8, sources revealed.

Habisyalis have taken shelter in the makeshift camps after showing their respective registration certificates.Habisyalis have been sheltered at camps set up at Bagala Dharmasala, Mela shed and Jagannath Ballav Matha. Also, the administration has taken steps to provide Mahaprasad and other puja requirements for the devotees. 

Besides, police teams have been deployed round the clock in the camps to avoid law and order situations if arise. 

Meanwhile, Dhabaleswar shrine in Cuttack witnessed a huge rush on the occasion of the first Monday of Kartik month. The idol of Dhabaleswar was given a bath with 108 pitchers of water after the temple opened at 4am. Later, Mangala Arati ritual was performed. Devotees in large numbers thronged the temple to mark the occasion.

Significance of Kartika month 

Kartika month is significant because it comes at a time when the sun travels southwards on the celestial sphere, which is considered the most auspicious time for prayers.

According to the Vedas, Lord Vishnu goes to sleep on Ashadha Ekadashi and wakes up on Kartika Shukla Ekadashi.

It is believed that during Kartika month, Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu pay a visit to the Earth. Lord Shiva killed the devil Tripurasura in the month of Kartika and protected the world.

In Kartika month, the holy river Ganga enters the other rivers, thus making them as sacred as Ganga.

Science says, in Kartika month gains more magnetic power from the Earth before sunrise. This may be a reason for taking a bath before sunrise during this month.

Why Habisyalis observe Kartika Brata

As Kartik month is considered to have been one of the most auspicious months in the Hindu calendar, women especially Habisyalis keep a special brata and eat only once a day for the whole month.

Throughout the month of Kartik, Puspalak servitors adorn Lord Jagannath in Raidamodar Besha.  Damodar is another name of Krishna and Rai is Radha. It is believed that those especially Habisyalis who worship Lord Jagannath during this month, much like Radha used to do, are destined to get the choicest blessings of the Lord.  Keeping this in mind, Habisyalis perform Kartika Brata throughout the month.

They hold sannkalpa every day. According to the Sankalpa rituals, women need to follow certain rules. Those who observe Kartika Brata, take a holy dip in Mahodadhi, worship Mahaprabhu and have the Mahaprasad. By doing so, they come closer to Lord Jagannath.

Nowhere in the world would you find the convergence of Mahodadhi, Mahaprasad and Mahaprabhu. All these things attract Habisyalis to Puri Dham and follow the rituals. Lord Jagannath is being adorned with Raidamodar besha for more than 700-800 years now. However, it is difficult to say the exact time when women started coming to Puri to observe Kartika Brata.

At the crack of dawn, Habisyalis perform their puja and partake only vegetarian food. The last five days of the month are known as panchuka and considered to be very important. 

The very last day is being celebrated as Kartika Purnima when their brata comes to an end on this auspicious day.