Bhubaneswar: Prathamastami, the festival for firstborns, is one of the most popular in Odisha. It’s celebrated on the eighth day of ‘Margasira’ month. On this occasion, special prayers are offered for the wellbeing of the eldest child of the family, who is also called the ‘podhuan’.
Not only in Odisha, but Odias living in other states and abroad too keep date with tradition to celebrate it Prathamashtami with a bit of ‘jugaad’ thrown in.
Rituals & Significance
The significance of this festival is that firstborns are usually considered brighter and expected to take up the burden of the family later on in life.
Maternal uncles, ‘ashtami bandhu’, present the eldest child of the family with new clothes while mothers pray for their wellbeing and long life.
Following the rituals, the child is smeared with vermilion, sandal paste and then adorned with doob grass and sacred rice grains.
Along with grains and flowers, special pithas (cakes) are offered to Sasthi Devi, who is the protector of children.
Special ‘Enduri pitha’ also known as ‘Haladi Patra Pitha’ is offered to the goddess on the occasion. It is filled with jaggery and grated coconut and wrapped in green leaves of turmeric plant before being steamed.
Now Enduri Pitha is also available online in Bhubaneswar. Saroja Choudhury’s Rosy’s Kitchen is serving a variety of traditional Odia pithas, including special Enduri Pitha, to city food lovers in the city.
“Three types of Enduri Pithas — grated coconut stuffing, vegetable stuffing and grated coconut with jaggery — are available in my kitchen. I get a lot of orders for Enduri Pithas on Prathamastami from all the corners of Bhubaneswar,” said Saroja.
How Expatriate Odias Celebrate?
“As Prathamashtami is all about showing love to the firstborn of a family, so as to make him/her learn the family value system and making them ready for the upcoming responsibilities, I follow all the traditions,” said Nitu Gitanjali Sahoo, mother of six-year-old Samiksha Sahoo.
They live in Brussels, Belgium.
“We are staying in Brussels since last five years. As turmeric leaves are not available here, I used to do Manda Pitha and Idli , instead of Enduri Pitha. I have learned the rituals of Prathamastami from my mother. I used to follow all the rituals and offer puja at my home temple,” said Nitu.
Like wise, a couple staying in Singapore, Kiran Kumari and Nihar Kanta, also celebrate Prathamastami as per the tradition.
“My mother used to give all the instruction of puja over phone from Odisha and I used to do all the rituals, accordingly,” said Kiran Kumari.
“I had brought new dress for my only son Harshit. I got turmeric plant leaves from a store here, but the price is very high. The price of three turmeric leaves is equivalent to Rs 53 here in Singapore,” she said.
“We have an Odia community here and we used to exchange Pithas among ourselves,” said Kiran.
“I put Rangoli at home. My husband, me and my son bow our heads before Sathi Devi. We make our son sit in front of the deity and do bandapana. We then put raw rice, duba (a type of grass) and barakoli (Jujube) leaves on the head of the child seven times to remove all evil. We serve seven pithas to the podhuan,” said Subhra Sarita Das, mother of Swostik Smarak Rout. Subhra with her husband Subhankar Rout have also been staying in Singapore.
How Mothers Who Live Outside Odisha Celebrate For Their First Born?
New clothes for the podhuan, Kheer and Enduri Pitha is the most important thing in this festival, said Somya Preeti Jena, who lives in Chenai with her family.
“We prepare rice and urad dal paste and ferment it one day in advance. Then next morning, we pray to Lord Laxmi and adorn her with new clothes and offer the Pitha to her. After God, it is the turn of the podhuan. After the podhuan eats the pitha, the other family members can enjoy the delicacy,” said Somya.
“As I don’t get turmeric plant leaves in Chennai, my father used to send me from Cuttack. Interestingly, he sends leaves with cost Rs 50 in courier by spending more than Rs 200,” she added.
“I used to do Enduri Pitha every year and gives my Odia and non-Odia neighbours here in Chennai,” said Somya, mother of six-year-old daughter Saisa Pradhan.
In Delhi, Cuttack girl Supriya resorts to ‘jugaad’ to kreep up with the rituals of Prathamastami.
“I had observed my mother, how she used to offer puja on this day for my eldest sister in Cuttack. Here in Delhi, I try to follow all the rituals. As I don’t get turmeric plant leaves in Delhi, I used to make Manda Pitha and offer to God. I also don’t get duba (a type of grass) and barakoli (Jujube) leaves in my locality. I offer only flowers to God,” said Supriya, mother of eight-year-old Dibyanshu Senapati.