Koraput: Raksha Bandhan in Sanskrit means “the knot of protection.” The word Raksha means protection, while Bandhan means to tie. The words Raksha and Bandhan are connected.
While Raksha Bandhan is awaited by brothers and sisters in urban areas, the scene in rural areas and tribal villages of undivided Koraput is somewhat different.
Tribal communities who are dependent on agriculture celebrate the festival in their own way. Tribal groups like Kandha, Gadaba, Bhumia, Bonda, Penthia, Koya and Durua live in the lap of nature in the undivided Koraput region.
The non-tribal Gouda community calls Raksha Bandhan as ‘Gamha Purnima” and devote it exclusively to cattle.
Early in the morning, after a bath they put on new clothes and apply turmeric powder on cows. The cattle shed is washed and decorated with flowers and specially prepared Odiya sweets like arisha, podopitha, manda and kheer are offered to the cows on plantain leaves. It is followed by an elaborate worship of cattle wealth.
Shanti Durua, a tribe from Ramgiri, said Raksha Bandhan is a very special event for them as it’s a bond between brothers and sisters. But for them it’s also a bond with nature, plants, animals and with all those who live.
The tribal communities celebrate the occasion in their own traditional ways. The Penthia tribe calls it Suta Palta, which means change of thread. After an early bath in the river or streams, men worship the goddess of wealth and then change their threads with new ones. The females early in the day clean their houses and paint their walls.
Members of the Bhumia tribe observe the day as Nangal Dhua Parab. On the day, the men clean their ploughs with water and put turmeric paste on it. The women also prepare turmeric water and rice and sprinkle it on the ploughs.
The plough is worshipped and a few paddy plants from the field are uprooted with soil and carried to the place of worship in the corner of a hut where they offer cooked food to their ancestors and gods and goddesses. The unique celebration ends with thanksgiving prayers.