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Fairs and Festivals of Odisha: Kumar Purnima

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DR. ADYASHA DAS
Associate Professor
Chairperson- MBA (Travel & Tourism)  /  Culture  / Placements / Admissions / PR
Indian Institute of Tourism & Travel Management

The culture of a region is best reflected in the celebration of fairs and festivals. From special food items to unique customs, traditional dance /music, and propitiating the deities, the cultural legacy is reinforced each year during the time of these celebrations. Kumar Purnami or Kumarotsav as it is otherwise known is one such popular occasion which is welcomed in the month of Aswina. This day is also known as the day for Gajalaxmi Puja. Lakshmi Debi, the Goddess of Fortune, beauty, and wealth is offered obeisance by her devotees. Observed as Kojagari Purnima, it marks the festivities to herald the birth of Kumar as is traditionally believed. Irrespective of caste and creed people meet each other and enjoy the revelry, which continues throughout the night.

 On this very day, Chandra(Moon) and Kartik are also worshipped. The young unmarried girls wear new clothes as is customary and in the wee hours of dawn offer “puja” to the Sun God. With the approach of twilight, they pray to the Moon God. Many typical customs mark this Chanda Puja. This day marks the culmination of the “Janhi Osha”, an auspicious fast observed by young girls. For almost a week, and in certain parts of Orissa, a month before Kumar Purnami, girls get together and entertain themselves with dance and songs. The girls organize competitions of the famed “Puchi” game and try to outshine the others in their expertise. A very energetic game, unfortunately, it is almost forgotten now.
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 It is as though Kumar Purnima gives wings to the young girl’s flight of fancy. They devotedly worship the moon God and pray to grant their fondest dream-to be blessed with a husband as handsome as Kartikeya, son of Lord Shiva born on this day; as serene as the full moon. Kumar Purnima also urges the young men to enjoy a day of fun-filled, exciting games. Whether it is a game of cards, “Bohuchori” devised along the lines of hide and seek, Kitikiti , or the passionate game of dice, all these boisterous games sprinkle merriment and a feeling of camarederie all around. In the Jagannath temple at Puri, devotees form two camps, one in favour of Lord Jagannath and the other for Goddess Lakshmi and they have an intense game of dice.
Kumarotsav is focused on enjoyment and happiness. Among Kartikeya’s seventeen different names, Kumar is most special and signifies beauty. So young men and women recognize and realize their innate beauty on this day. More a festivity of the youth, it is an appropriate forum to recapture our disappearing cultural heritage. In these times of stress, Kumarpurnima is a beckoning to pause a while, rejuvenate the mind and soul and then march ahead.

About Ashok Palit

Ashok Palit has completed his graduation from Upendranath College Soro, Balasore and post graduation from Utkal University in Odia Language and literture.. He has also carved out a niche for himself as a scribe of eminence after joining the profession in 1988. He is also an independent media production professional. He brings loads of experience to Advanced Media, Ashok Palit as a cineaste has been active in film criticism for over three decades. As a film society activist, he soared to eminence for his profound commitment to the art film appreciation and aesthetics of cinema. His mode of discourse is often erudite but always lucid and comprehensible marked by a perfect acumen so rare in the field. A film aesthete with an immense fond of critical sensibilities, he wrote about growth and development of odia cinema in New Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Asian Age and Screen. He has been working as an Editor for Cine Samaya from 2002-2004.. He had made solid contribution on cinema in many odia Dailies and weekly such as Samaj, Prajatantra, Dharatri, Samaya, Satabadi, and weekly Samaya.

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