Himansu Shekhar Rout

Thursday is believed to be the most auspicious day for Goddess Laxmi. And, the day assumes much significance in the Dhenkanal district where Laxmi Puja, an annual glittering affair, is being celebrated in a grand way. Scores of puja pandals in Dhenkanal town are now dazzling with attractive decorations.   

As per the tradition, special rituals are performed at puja pandals of the Goddess. Dahi Pakhala (curd rice), a special recipe, is offered to the Goddess at all puja pandals only on Thursdays, during the 11-day spiritual extravaganza.  Dahi Pakhala is a mixture of curd and Anna Prasad. 

In fact, it was the Ganesh Bazar Puja Committee that had initiated the recipe as a divine offering. Later, this tradition was adopted by all other puja committees. On other days, Sankudi Bhoga, Anna, Khiri, and Puri are offered to the goddess.  

Thousands of women devotees wearing new white sarees thronged pandals in the morning today. They decorated the front yards of the pandals with colourful and attractive Jhotis/Rangolis of different motifs. Apart from offering new sarees, women devotees also offered a variety of fruits and sweets to the Goddess.

Kumudini Rout, a woman devotee in Dhenkanal town, termed Thursday as the most favourite day for the Goddess. “As today is Thursday, we visit the puja pandals in the morning and evening. We offer fruits and sweets. As per beliefs, worshiping the Goddess on Thursday usually pleases Her. The Goddess gives blessings for the welfare of the family,” she observed.

Another woman devotee Snehalata Sukla, said that women made jhotis for Maa Laxmi, who always showers her blessings on them. “We offer 10 varieties of sweets and fruits, apart from cakes, Kheer, Suji Cakara, Dhala Manda to the Goddess.”