Bhubaneswar: People across Odisha celebrated Kartika Purnima, the full moon day of the holy month of Kartika, with religious fervour by setting afloat tiny boats in ponds and rivers.
People, spanning various age groups, congregated around ponds and rivers near their villages and towns early in the morning, adorning small paper and banana-stem boats to celebrate the festival. Prior to setting afloat their boats, people were seen placing unboiled rice, areca nuts, grass, and lamps on their vessels. They recited the traditional phrase, ‘aa kaa ma boi – paana gua thoi – paana gua tora – maasaka dharama mora,’ as they attempted to navigate their boats.
This picturesque scene unfolded not only at the seashore and Narendra tank in Puri but also along the Daya river, Kuakhai river, Bindusagar tank and various other tanks within the temple premises in Bhubaneswar, as well as along all the river banks across the state.
Hundreds of devotees flocked Puri Jagannath temple on this special occasion to catch a glimpse of the deities. Widowed women, who were staying in Puri for the entire month, concluded their month-long ‘habisha’ ritual after seeking the blessings of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra.
Notably, the tradition of launching miniature boats serves as a tribute to Odisha’s ancient maritime legacy. Centuries ago, the adventurous merchants of the state, known as ‘Saadhabas,’ embarked on sea voyages to trade with merchants in present-day Indonesia. The wives of these ‘Saadhabas,’ referred to as ‘Saadhaba bohus,’ would ritually bless and worship the boats, breaking coconuts and praying for the safe journey of their husbands.