Deogarh: After ‘Nuakhai’, people of Western Odisha usually celebrate the ‘Pua Jiuntia’ festival in a grand manner. However, this year the festival will be a muted one in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ‘Pua Jiuntia’ festival will be celebrated Friday.
The festival holds special significance in the region as it marks the umbilical relationship between mother and her child (especially son). Mothers across Western Odisha worship ‘Lord Dutibahana’ to protect their children. For this the festival is also known as ‘Dutibahana Osa’. It is celebrated every year on Ashwina Krushnapakhya Ashtami (eighth day of the dark fortnight of Odia month Ashwina).
As per the ritual of the festival, the mothers fast for 24 hours and in the evening they gather at open spaces in their respective localities to perform the puja before Lord Dutibahana. However, due to the COVID-19 outbreak district administrations have restricted such gatherings. So this year the mothers will perform the puja in their respective houses.
‘Lord Dutibahana’ is worshipped in an open space decorated with Aam Taran (mango leaves) and flowers. The offerings include 108 duba (strands of green grass), 108 unbroken arua rice (non-boiled rice), Jiuntia (worshiped thread), jugar (made of puffed paddy) and tikhri (made of moong dal).
A wrapping is made for each of the child and is offered to Lord Dutibahana. The most important ritual of the festival is the touching of the strand of grass. It is believed that it protects the children from all illness and evils. Then, the ‘Jiuntia’ thread is tied on the wrists of the children.
The next day during the wee hours the mothers take a holy dip in a water body. Then they perform a set of rituals on the banks before breaking the fast on Navami morning. After breaking the fast, the moms prepare a special dish comprising of 21 varieties of vegetables and fruits.
On the occasion of Pua Jiuntia, the children also offer their moms various delicacies to break the fast. They also hand over gifts to their respective mothers.