Opinion: Hala Anukula-An Agrarian Festival On Basant Panchami

By Srinibash Samal

Saraswati Puja or Basant Panchami or Sri Panchami is celebrated on the Shukla Paksha Panchami in the lunar month Magha. In Rigveda, Saraswati is a river as well as the personification of the goddess of Learning. In the post-Vedic periods, She began to lose Her status as a river and became increasingly associated with bestowal of knowledge. She is worshipped not only for academic pursuit, but also for divine knowledge.

Generally celebrate the Saraswati Puja on this day. But there is a practice of a special ritual called HalaAnukula. As the name suggests, it means the Starting of Ploughing. We can say it is an agrarian festival and it is the 1st day of Rabi season. From this day, farmers starting their farming.

On this auspicious day, the women folk wake up very early in the morning and clean the house with broom-sticks. The entrances as well as the door step of the house are plastered with either cow-dung paste or red soil and the house is decorated with aesthetically designed motifs called Chita using the ground semi liquid rice paste or pithau or ana. The white jhoti or chita is created on a smearing of red earth. Then the eldest son of the family practices the ritual of HalaAnukula.

The man wakes up early in the morning and after taking shower he wore the traditional clothes (Dhoti) and places all necessary goods in the gain basket (Betuli). Then he starts his journey to the field for the puja. After reaching the field, he first place a bettlenut on field over the iron piece (LangalaLuha). Then the puja begins to Goddess Lakshmi and Bhu-Devi.

As per the tradition here also they worshipped their cows and bullocks. As a mark of respect to our agrarian heritage. Then various kinds of Pitha are made and serving to the cattle and distributed within families, relatives and friends.

The festival is observed differently in the Shrimandir at Puri. As it marks the advent of BasantaRutu with ShrataRutu receding, the warm clothing of the deities are removed and they are clad in light saffron colour clothes. Saraswati Puja is also known as Basanta Panchami. A special variety of pitha is offered to the Triad which is known as Basanta-Pistaka (cake of the spring). Thereafter, a peculiar festival known as BentaBihara or Sara Jatra begins and continues till DolaPurnami. Madanmohan The representative idol of Jagannath goes out on hunting. Symbolically, he carries a bow and an arrow made of split bamboos and goes to BentaPokhari (a pond) situated in the premises of the JagannathBallabhMatha, close to the temple. There the sebayatas shoot arrows to a bundle of coconuts which represent deers.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)

[Srinibash is a freelance author and can be reached via
E-mail: srinibash.samal3@gmail.com
Twitter: @srinibash_samal
Blog address: thesrinibash.wordpress.com]