Kartik Purnima: A Day When Gods Celebrate Diwali & Odias Sail Boats To Revere Maritime Glory

Bhubaneswar: Kartik Purnima is one of the most significant days in the Hindu calendar. This year it is celebrated on Monday (November 30). Apart from the Hindus, the day also holds importance for Sikhs and Jains and is observed on Purnima Tithi (Full Moon Day) of Kartika, the eighth lunar month.

People worship Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi on this auspicious day. Kartik is considered the holiest month among all lunar months. According to the Gregorian calendar, Kartik Purnima falls in the month of November every year.

Kartik Purnima is also called the Deva-Diwali or Deva-Deepavali. According to a legend, it is believed that Lord Shiva killed a trio of Asura brothers, Tripurasura on this day by taking the avatar of Tripurari. When Tripurasura was killed, Gods were overjoyed. They celebrated the day of Kartik Purnima as Diwali and paid obeisance to Lord Shiva’s triumph over the demons.

Kartik Purnima is significant for the Jain and the Sikh communities. On this day Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh faith was born. This year, the 551st birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev will be celebrated. On this day, Jains go on a pilgrimage to Palitana, a holy site to worship Lord Adinath.

Kartik Purnima also coincides with lunar eclipse or Chandra Grahan this year. The Kartik Purnima holds a distinct identity among holy days in Odisha. On this day, people from all age groups, throng river banks to take a holy dip also known as ‘Kartik Snana’. They also visit temples to offer their prayers and observe fasts.

During the month of Kartik, Odia Hindus abstain from the intake of non-vegetarian food as this is the month of ‘Dharma’. The last five days of the month are very important, known as “Panchuka” and the very last day is celebrated as Kartik Purnima. This year, Panchuka lasted for six days, which is why the ‘Nagarjuna Besa’ (attire) of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra was celebrated.

On this auspicious day, early in the morning people observe the ritual of Boita Bandana by floating tiny banana, paper or thermocol boats in water bodies to remind past glory of Kalinga (Odisha). This is called as “Boita Bandana”.

It reminds the glory of the region. In olden days the ‘Sadhbas’ (sea traders) used to go distant islands like Java, Sumatra and other South-East Asian islands for business. Women in the family bid them adieu on this day with a celebration on the banks of rivers and the Bay of Bengal.

Children are very fond of the ‘Boita Bandana’ ritual. The rhyming phrase that they keep humming while letting the boats float is: “aa ka ma boi, pana gua thoi, pana gua tora, masaka dharama mora”. It is actually a prayer to keep the mariners safe during their voyage with the blessings earned during the Kartik month.

Sadly, this year there will be no celebration on Kartik Purnima due the restrictions in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. The State Government has banned congregation at river ghats and near other water bodies to take baths and sail boats on Kartik Purnima. Any person found violating the order shall be punished under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and other relevant law, the State Government’s order stated.

The joy and cheer for Kartik Purnima in Odisha has been subdued for this reason. People said they would prefer to be at homes, pray, conduct pujas and seek blessings. Those who have option like small tanks at home will sail banana stem boats indoors.

“The situation is extraordinary and unprecedented. We will celebrate Kartik Purnima at home and pray God to save mankind from this pandemic. Next year we will have double celebrations on Kartik Purnima,” said Akash Mishra, a resident of Gouri Garden in Bhubaneswar.

There is another important reason why people of Odisha wait eagerly for the Kartik Purnima. The following day (December 1, this year), is called ‘Chad-khai’, meaning a big non-veg feast. “After a month of strict vegetarian diet, Chad-khai is the day for non-veg delicacies. The entire family gets together on this day and relish the lunch with an assortment of special items,” added Akash.