Bhubaneswar: Kartika Purnima is celebrated with Boita Bandana, a mass commemoration of the maritime glory of the people of Odisha. In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, restrictions have been imposed on congregation of people at river ghats and other water bodies this year.
No congregation will be allowed at Bindusagar Lake and other water bodies in the Odisha capital. There are restrictions on mass bathing also on the occasion of Kartika Purnima, on November 30.
The song ‘Aa ka Ma Boi, Pana Gua Thoi, Pana Gua Tora, Masaka Dharama Mora’ — which is sung on Kartika Purnima by women and girls while letting sail miniature boats for the safe return of Sadhabas (sea traders) — will be missed this year.
The Sadhabas used to set sail for Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Ceylon, Daman and Diu in huge boats named ‘Boita’ for trading purposes.
To keep the tradition going, people assemble at Bindusagar, Dayanadi, Kuakhai and some ponds in the city to sail miniature boats.
Due to the pandemic-induced restrictions in place, the miniature boat makers are staring a big loss this year.
“We used to earn Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 during Kartika Purnima. With these restrictions we are facing a huge loss,” said city-based artisan Hrushikesh Behera.
“I make nearly about 2,000 miniature boats every year. I also make two big-sized paper and thermocol boats, one for Bindusagar and the other one for a pond in Chandrasekharpur,” said Behera.
His business is seasonal, as he makes idols and boats during Ganesh Puja, Saraswati Puja, Biswakarma Puja and Kartika Purnima etc.
“There are eight members in my family. They are all artists and help me in my work. We have not made a single boat this year,” rued Behera, who lives near Bindusagar and has been making miniature boats for the past 15 years.
“I have been making clay, fiber and cement idols since 1972. I also get orders from schools for students’ project work. I earn a good amount from the schools,” informed the artisan.
“I hope next year, I will get good work. I can understand the seriousness of the situation and welcome the government’s decision,” he added.
Model Lavanya Das said: “I used to drive with my family to Bindusagar lake to sail our boats. Sadly, this year we can’t go anywhere to sail boats due to the pandemic.”
Therefore, she has designed her own boat and decorated it. “I’m going to splash it in my balcony, in a big water tub. Everything will be there… beetles, coins, diyas, beetle leaves and a boat made with banana leaf too,” she added.
“But the excitement generated with so many people gathering, the urge to sail individual boats, glancing at others’ boats will be thoroughly missed by each one us,” remarked Lavanya, acknowledging the fact that it has to be different than normal this year to maintain social distancing.
Pramodini Mohanty, a homemaker, will miss going to Bindusagar with her friends. “We have a group of friends and usually go Bindusagar to sail boats every year wearing same coloured saree. Those moments were really very good,” she said.
Elaborating their normal routine, she added: “From the first day of Panchuka, we arrange feast. The day before Kartika Purnima, we make miniature boats at home. Early in the morning, we go to Bindusagar and sail boats and sing Aa ka Ma Boi, Pana Gua Thoi loudly. After enjoying there, we normally go to some temples in the city. On our way back home, we have tea from roadside stalls.”
Since they can’t celebrate this time like normal years, Pramodini and her friends are sharing photos of special dishes in social networking sites.
“I will sail a boat in a tub at my balcony this year,” Pramodini signed off.