Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

The famous ‘Handi Bhanga jata’ festival is being celebrated with devotional fervour at Ramachandi temple near Konark in Puri district starting from Thursday.

As per the tradition, the famous festival began on the last day of the holy Odia month ‘Baisakha’. A large number of women devotees are taking part in the festival with devotion.

As per the rituals, large numbers of married women wore new clothes and visited Ramchandi temple in the morning to offer prayer to the Goddess. With the help of the servitors, they prepare ‘Khechudi Bhoga’ (A special food offered to the Goddess as Prasad) in earthen pots. After taking one-third of the special ‘Khechudi bhoga’, the devotees circumvented the ‘Banta’ (sand piling) seven times along with the servitors. Subsequently, they damaged the plot and went straight to their homes without talking to others.

“In old days, women used to take part in the festival and pray to the Goddess to protect their family members from various infectious diseases and wild animals. We are taking forward the tradition. We have also got the blessings of the Goddess by observing the festival with devotion and dedication,” said Padmabati Khuntia, a devotee.

“We celebrate the festival with a lot of dedication and determination. After offering two third of the ‘Khechudi Bhoga’ to the tiger, we take the remaining portion. Then we damage the plot. As per the popular belief, Goddess Ramachandi protects the devotees who follow the rituals with utmost devotion. Personally, I have also experienced it in my life,” said Indumati Nayak another devotee.

As per the legends behind the festival, women used to take part in the festival to pay their obeisance to their ancestors. 

Another school of thought says that Lord Jagannath and Lord Balabhadra found Goddess Lakhmi at this place after searching her for a long time. The festival is observed to celebrate the occasion of joy.

As per the servitors, the festival will continue for two days. Ramachandi Development Committee has also organised various cultural festivals during the festival.

“Large numbers of women devotees follow the traditional rituals during the festival. Goddess Ramachandi blesses them for their dedication, devotion and penance,” said Niranjan Panda, a servitor.