Rashmi Rekha Das

Anganwadi workers, who have been protesting over their various demands, on Thursday worshipped Goddess Lakhmi at Lower PMG Square to mark Manabasa Gurubar.

The workers have been demonstrating for the past four days against the State government’s alleged inordinate delay in fulfilling their demands.

Despite being in protest, they did not give Manabasa Gurubara a miss. Instead, they observed the puja wholeheartedly. They drew jhoti chita, Lakhmi pada (feet of Goddess Lakhmi) and lotus flowers at the protest site to welcome the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity. That’s not all. They also offered traditional bhogs to the Goddess and read Lakhmi Purana to please the Goddess.

“Though we have been protesting for last four days seeking fulfilment of our eight-point charter of demands, we cannot give our festival a miss. Gurubar Manabasa is one of the most important festivals of Odisha. Just because we are away from home we should not refrain from worshipping Goddess Lakhmi on Manabasa Gurubar. We are hopeful that Goddess Lakhmi will sort out our issues with government,” said an Anganwadi worker.

Another protester said, “We observed the Manabasa Gurubar with full devotion and hope that our demands will be met before next Thursday and we will do Manabasa Gurubar puja at our respective homes.”

“My family members will understand our plight and supports us. So, they won’t be angry with us for worshipping Goodness Lakhmi on Bhubaneswar road,” said a protesting woman.  
Notably, last year Anganwadi workers also held Lakhmi puja at the same venue while protesting in support of their demands. 

The protestors have, meanwhile, threatened to worship the Goddess at Lower PMG Square next Thursday if their eight-charter demands are not met. 

Their demands include government employee status, monthly pension of Rs 5,000 after retirement and compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of an Anganwadi worker in case of her death.

The Anganwadi workers claimed that they are behind the successful implementation of State government's flagship projects like Mamata Yojana and Harischandra Yojana. However, the state government hardly cares for their future. They are being deprived of government benefits. Senior Anganwadi workers are getting Rs 7,500 as a monthly salary while mini Anganwadi workers are availing Rs 5,500 as a monthly salary which is not enough to run a family, they said.