Although increasing stress is being given on maintaining cleanliness to make India a cleaner and well-sanitised country, Odia households have been following hygiene for years now. It is believed that goddess Lakshmi loves clean ambience. Therefore, married women in Odisha not only keep their homes clean but decorate them with jhoti chita to add grandeur to Manabasa Gurubar, which is observed on Thursdays of the Margasira month. Manabasa Gurubar is observed to please Mahalaxmi, the goddess of wealth. Many women, who stay outside the state, too follow the rituals of Manabasa Gurubar. With just a couple of days to go before the first Thursday of Margasira, Orissa POST interacts with a few non-resident Odias who share their thoughts on the festival.
Jyotsna Dash from Bhubaneswar, who shifted base to the US, says, “Odias celebrate more festivals than the number of months in a year. Although I left my homeland around 10 years back, I continue to celebrate all Odia festivals at home. Margasira is the favourite month of Lord Vishnu and is also considered auspicious for worshipping Lord Jagannath and goddess Lakshmi to seek their blessings. So I always make sure to observe the tradition with austerity. I have kept a Dhana Benti (a bunch of matured paddy shoots) and a prayer book which is a must to observe Manabasa Gurubar. I wake up early in the morning and do puja. Although the time zones are different, I make sure to keep a track of the Indian time in order to perform the rituals and puja.”
Pune-based Sarmishta Ransingh says, “It’s a matter of faith. We know god is omnipresent, so his place of residing hardly makes any difference. I try to perform all the rituals of Manabasa Gurubar, a practice that I have learnt from my mother-in-law. On this day, I draw jhoti on the floors and offer peethas to worship goddess Laxmi. We all have only vegetarian food that too sans onion and garlic on this occasion, while the women wear white sarees with red border. It is not that difficult to follow the rituals on Manabasa Gurubar even if you are away from your home state.”
Megha Nayak from Rourkela stays in Kolkata owing to her husband’s profession. She says, “I stay in a place that has a different culture but I have not changed myself as far as religious beliefs are concerned. Apart from festivity, Manabasa is synonymous to cleanliness, sanitation and hygiene. All our family members pitch in to maintain this tradition.”
“We are living in an era where everything is available online. So if you require anything particular for a holy ritual, you can order them online. You can even learn the rituals online, which I did after shifting to Kolkata. My in-laws observe the rituals back home but I do it here for my own satisfaction.”
Sradhanjali Jena from Jagatsinghpur, who now lives in Hyderabad, says, “The day I entered my in-laws house was a Thursday of Margasira month. My mother-in-law performed the puja on that day and asked me to learn the rituals so that I could continue to perform them from next year. Since then, I have been observing Manabasa Gurubar with all sanctity at my home in Hyderabad.