'Bakula Amavasya' is popularly known as 'Vakula Amavasi'. It is observed during the month of December and January in Odisha. The festival is primarily dedicated to the Mango trees. During this period the mango tree blooms with the new seeds (in Odia it is known as Baula). Special food is prepared on the day and is being offered in temples. The food is also offered to Mango trees. The ritual is performed to get more mangoes during the season.
A festival of fasting—Bada Osa is observed in every Hindu Oriya family in the month of November. It is primarily celebrated at Dhabaleswar temple in Cuttack district. This is followed by worship of the Lord with offering of Bhoga (i.e.the Prasad) named 'gajabhoga' (a sweet made up of milk derivatives) and 'attakali' (a local sweet dish with flour). After offering of 'bhoga', the Lord Jagannath used to adore the 'Bada Singhara Besha' which is one of the most pious occasions for the devotees. The rituals here relates to the story that Lord Indra had taken a holy dip here on full-moon day of in the month of Kartika to get rid of his leprosy which he was inflicted with after being cursed by Lord Brahma.
Chitalagi or 'Chitaou Amavasya' is one such festival of Odisha which is being celebrated on the new moon day of the month 'Shravana' (August). On this day, in the temple of Jagannath, the deity bears a golden mark (Chita) on his forehead. A special variety of rice-cake known as 'Chitou Pitha' is being offered to the deity. It is in the primitive tradition to appease evil powers through worship whether they are animals, serpents, insects or plants. People worship and pray them to avoid their wrath. Therefore, during the festival the pilas (one species of molluscs) is appeased as a female form of evil power known as 'Gandeisuni' (Genda means Pila). The farmer girls go to the fields and while offering cakes pray. "Oh; Gandeisuni, be appeased and do not cut the legs of my father or brother who will be working in this field".
Driven by the folklores, the farmers of the Tikanpur village along with the neighbour villagers of Kendrapara district in Odisha used to organise a frog marriage ceremony to appease the rain god 'Indra' on the last tuesday in the month of May. The ceremony is performed with great pomp and splendour and villagers make all the arrangements for the bride (frog) and groom (male frog) to tie the nuptial knots in order to appease the rain god to bless the farmers for an immediate rainfall.
Indigenous Practice for Pest Management
People from South Odisha specifically Dainiguda village of Kalahandi districts are indigenous in their pest management in hilly areas. The power of wind is optimally used by the inhabitants to drive the avian pest from their legume cultivation field.
The advent of monsoon is welcomed by celebrating the joyous festival of 'Rajo'. It is being arranged for three days by the villagers. Though celebrated all over the state in Odisha, it is more enthusiastically observed in the districts of Cuttack, Puri and Balasore. The first day is called "Pahili Raja" (Prior Raja), second is "Raja" (Proper Raja) and third is "Basi Raja" (Past Raja). During the festival all agricultural operations remain suspended. In the festival, swings are being arranged of different varieties, such as 'Ram Doli', 'Charki Doli', 'Pata Doli', 'Dandi Doli'. Girls scatter beauty, grace and music all around, and enjoy the swings during the festival. The special variety of cake prepared out of recipes like rice-powder, molasses, coconut, camphor, ghee etc. goes in the name of "Poda Pitha" (burnt cake). The size of the cake varies according to the number of family members. Cakes are also exchanged among relatives and friends.
Community in central and northern Odisha believes that hanging dead animals help in avoiding paddy field to be raided by animals. It is believed this creates a psychological fear among the particular species. To avoid crow to raid the dried paddy, the dead crow or the wings of a dead crow is being hanged in nearby area so that it creates a threat to the encroached crow. Similarly, they install skull of a cattle in the middle of the agricultural field to get rid of the raiding by the cattle.
Contributed by CEE East